First let me say, I believe our Constitution is one of the most remarkable documents ever written. While flawed, it set the foundation to build a nation the likes of which the world had never before seen.
Many of the men responsible for writing it were ideological geniuses.
But the truth of the matter is it was written over 200 years ago. We didn’t have the internet, cell phones, satellites, semi-automatic weapons—hell, we didn’t even have electricity.
So it’s always somewhat baffled me to see people cling so tightly to something that was written so long ago. To see highly educated individuals try and determine the correct “interpretation of the law based on the Constitution” for situations that didn’t even exist when it was written, just doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense.
Tell me, how the heck can we determine “Constitutional interpretation of law” based on laws which govern situations or events that couldn’t have even been imagined when it was written?
And don’t give me the “Constitutional Amendment process.” It’s completely broken. When our process for passing a Constitutional Amendment was written we had a handful of states and a Congress that was a fraction of the size. It wasn’t unheard of to get two-thirds of both the House and Senate as well as three-fourths of the states to ratify something. Granted it wasn’t easy, but it was much more realistic with numbers that were much smaller.
Today we have 1 President, 50 states, 435 House Representatives and 100 Senators. You think we have a chance in hell, considering the political environment of the last 3-4 decades, of passing a Constitutional Amendment that requires support by two-thirds of both the House and Senate, Presidential approval and ratification by three-fourths of the states?
Over 80% of Americans support universal background checks — a level of support that’s unheard of for a key political issue — and we couldn’t even get that passed.
Do these people that cling to a “return to Constitutional values” really believe that if our Founding Fathers were alive today, they would write that exact same document?
Our Third Amendment covers the forced quartering of soldiers during a time of war — when was the last time this was an issue?
But even going beyond that, let’s look at a few things our Constitution allowed upon its creation:
- Women couldn’t vote
- The gun of choice was a single-shot musket
- Slavery was not only allowed, but often encouraged
- The average life expectancy was around 35-40 years of age
- Electricity was still essentially science fiction
- It was acceptable to find a group of people, we now call them Native Americans, and simply take their land in the name of “freedom”
- A gun shot to the leg typically meant amputation
- 13 year old girls were often married off (in arranged marriages where they had no option) to much older men
- If you stole someone’s horse you could be hanged
- Going out to dinner meant taking the family out for a hunt
Just to name a few.
Yet, despite all of that, millions of people living in 2013 still cling to some fundamentalist view of the Constitution. They look upon the Constitution for what their personal beliefs want it to be, instead of what it is.
It’s a groundbreaking document, written by ideological geniuses, that’s inherently flawed and was drafted during a time when those writing it couldn’t have possibly envisioned what our nation would eventually evolve into. And while it’s justified to look upon the Constitution for it’s greatness, and what it sought to represent — it’s naive to look at a document written over 200 years ago and say that it unequivocally relates to a day and age which was unimaginable during the time at which it was written.
And more Americans really need to realize that.