In school, we are taught that America is a democracy which operates according to “the consent of the governed.” The specifics of this system are outlined in our Constitution. I believe this hallowed document needs to be revisited, by all of America’s citizenry. Now.
Politicians in America take an oath when they assume the duties of their office. They promise to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Traditionally, a vast majority of our politicians have held legal degrees. Most law school curricula begin with a basic course in Constitutional Law. That basic knowledge of the Constitution has guided the actions of civil servants in all branches of our government, through a series of checks and balances that keep the power, presumably, in the hands of the people.
When our government was formed, our founders envisioned citizen statesmen that would serve for a short amount of time before returning to their farms or trades, not career politicians. Now, as representation at the state and federal level becomes more entrenched, voters occasionally fight back at the ballot box by electing a governmental outsider, a common citizen without any governmental experience or legal background.
The result has been an increasing number of politicians who don’t really know the document they’ve promised to defend, and radical agendas gain ground. The Constitution is wielded in political discourse as a weapon in battle, but I sometimes wonder how many of our politicians have actually read it.
In order to move forward as one nation, we must all become students of the Constitution. We need to know what it says, and what it doesn’t say. We need to read it with a critical mind, and when we have a question, look to primary sources for clarity.
It will take individual dedication to make ourselves collectively into a more informed electorate, but we have no excuses, and no time to dawdle. Through the wonders of the internet, we all have the text at our fingertips.
Set aside time this weekend for a complete reading of the Constitution and all 27 Amendments. No skimming. Read every word, slowly enough to truly understand what you’ve read. Remember the millions around the world who would be grateful to have such a document to guide them, and read it again. Now contact your congressman/woman, and encourage them to do likewise. Again.