Thursday, February 23, 2012

TO THOSE WHO DO GET IT.

I’m sorry I wasn’t clearer in a couple of posts I did for the blog. My frustration is not aimed those who “get it.” And Lisa, this is meant as the highest compliment, you DO get it. The frustration is aimed at a very vocal minority who don’t seem to get it.

Technically the men, and yeah they were all white men who were property owners, were only supposed to amend the Articles of Confederation. And I’ve run across a few websites that argue that they went off the reservation when they came up with the constitution. I believe they did the best they could with what they had to work with, within the beliefs and prejudices of their times. And that if they meant the constitution to stay frozen in time they would never have set up a way to amend the blessed thing in the first place.

Maybe I can compare the document to a person. You’re born, the years pass you go through the stages, toddler, child, teenager, adult, but you’re still the same person. The framers wrote a document. It was a baby. They accepted some amendments, the idea of what our constitution is grew and changed but it’s still the same constitution.

So, who am I frustrated with? Well, there are the ones who want to keep the constitution frozen in time and barely accept the first ten amendments, never mind the ones that came after that. The crucial ones seem to be the 14th that grants citizenship to anyone who is born here, the 17th that allows for direct election of senators, the amendment that allows for an income tax and although they aren’t very loud about it, the amendment that recognizes your right to vote even if you do have two X chromosomes. Some of them aren’t too happy with the Federal Reserve either but that isn’t part of the constitution. Ron Paul and his loyal followers would probably fall into this group.

Then there’s the Dominionist/Reconstructionist/ whatever group that supports designating the US as officially a “Christian” nation. The quotes are deliberate. When somebody figures out what a Christian is let me know. There have been some efforts to deflect on the Reconsruction bit. Christian Reconstructionist? No such thing.

If Bill Moyers was able to put a documentary together on the subject in the mid eighties there must be something to it. Scrap the New Testament, ignore all the religious groups that settled in the colonies except for about half the Puritans and put the country under Old Testament Law. If you don’t belong to the right church you won’t have much in the way of civil rights. Heck, some of the first splits in New England were over who had the right to vote. Male and a property owner, that was a given. The split was over whether you also were counted as a member of the church. Some folks disagreed and that’s partly how Connecticut and Rhode Island got started.

I salute anyone who had the courage and the hope to roll the dice and take a chance on the New World. Most of them “got it” about five minutes after they got off the boat. And they had a few advantages my ancestors didn’t. Most of the ships in the late 1800’s had motors so the trip took weeks, not months. After about 1920, they had radios; a ship could yell for help if got into trouble. And we already had cities built. At least the newer immigrants didn’t find themselves looking at a patch of trees and underbrush thinking, Lord I hope I can get a cabin up and some ground cleared before the snow flies.

So, again, my frustration was and is aimed at the ones who want to roll it back to the original intent. Whatever the heck that is, not at the vast majority who do get it and realize that nations grow and change but they’re still the same nation. And as Ben Franklin is supposed to have said “we either hang together or we’ll hang separately.”

2 comments:

Lisa :-] said...

This is what is meant by the school of thought that the Constitution is a "living" document. Certainly a nation needs to change with the times--moreso now than ever, since times change so quickly--or it will become irrelevant. To its citizens and to the world.

Perhaps we should advance the idea of "go back to the original constitution" year. See how many folks really enjoy going back in time 250 years...

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