Though they swear an oath to uphold and defend it, politicians seem never to actually read the Constitution, let alone think about what it says. Ditto for the Declaration of Independence.
Remember when presidential hopeless Bob Dole bumbled along the 1996 campaign trail, patting his breast pocket, saying he stowed a copy of the 10th Amendment inside? If he truly did, he didn’t pull it out and review it very often. Had he, Dole would have realized that most of what he stood for in his career was pooh-poohed by the little amendment. He’s done more good for the country hawking Viagra than serving in Congress.
Similarly, if politicos bothered to read the Declaration, they’d see a number of things they do every day were offered by Thomas Jefferson and Co. as reasons for writing England the world’s most famous Dear John letter:
- “He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.” Hello IRS, ATF, FBI, DEA, EPA, FDA, FCC, SEC. …
- “He has … burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.” Do Waco and no-knock drug raids come to mind?
- “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us. …” How else do you explain Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton?
The operator’s manual for my Honda is as long and tedious as a James Michener novel. Not so with this slim little operator’s manual for America. Even if you toss in the Declaration, you can read the whole thing in one trip to the john. There is simply no excuse for politicians sworn to uphold and defend something when they don’t even know what it is they are upholding and defending.
Fortunately, I’ve got the solution: The Joel Miller Daily Constitutional Devotional Plan.
Here’s my recommendation: All public servants (even the many who think they are public masters) should take a few moments every weekday morning and read a portion of the Declaration and the Constitution. I’ve laid out the perfect schedule to pack it easily into a week’s time:
Monday: Read the Declaration; this way pols will know what they’re supposed to be doing – securing the individual’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Tuesday: Read the Preamble and Article 1 of the Constitution to better know what Congress should and (more importantly) shouldn’t do while trying to secure those rights. Notice how universal health care is nowhere mentioned?
Wednesday: Read Articles 2 and 3. The former clearly delineates the minor duties that the president is supposed to perform in the republic, one of which is not wolfing the intern pack. The latter neither explains why Supreme Court justices wear those silly robes, nor how Jane Fonda escaped treason charges, but it’s still worth a gander.
Thursday: Read Articles 4-7, all of which are short and informative. Article 5, for instance, lays out the details for amending the Constitution, something any pol who wishes to ban firearms should consider when thinking of toppling the Second Amendment. Only a weasel would try sneakily whittling away the right of self-defense with patchwork pieces of legislation when the Constitution itself provides for an upfront, outright ban – provided you can get it ratified. Considering the zoological makeup of the Congress, however, perhaps the first tactic is to be expected.
Friday: Read the amendments, 1-27. I know that’s a lot, but the first 10 are brilliant, though some of the others leave a lot to be desired. The 16th was clearly written and passed under the influence of the stuff banned by the 18th and later re-permitted by the 21st, and the 26th is good for comedy relief (18-year-olds voting! Ha-ha).
If politicos took the Joel Miller Daily Constitutional Devotional Plan seriously, they would soon see they have gobs of extra time on their hands as their jobs will have shrunk considerably. Article 1, Section 8, alone is a real time saver for congressmen since it limits their job to something only a bit more important than a local school board.
With all this added time, politicians could cease bickering over legislation and advancing their careers with publicity-hounding stunts and photo-ops and further expand their constitutional understanding by reading the Federalist and Antifederalist Papers, along with the other works of the founders.
Or, they toss the books and play golf – a diversion we should encourage among all our officials. A politician on the links is a politician not in your wallet, bedroom, boardroom, classroom, automobile, medicine cabinet, stock portfolio, office or, in general, your life.
Having him tee off instead of teeing you off may prove the best way to secure our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
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