Missing a Thursday…
I don’t like missing Thursday shows, mainly because I do put a whole lot of effort into getting ready for Constitution Thursday. The other side of the equation is that I am an anal-retentive, OCD type, compulsive procedure follower* and I have a set schedule for preparation and getting set up for a show – on any given day. I hate it when my routine is upset for any reason, even spilling coffee on the Topic Sheet is “bad luck in my mind, because it isn’t supposed to be bent or messed up until I pick it up for the intro at precisely 3:06pm.
So when Ben’s appointments ran long, Cami was under the weather and the clock kept creeping forward, I made the decision to pull the plug on today and go to the backup, Best of Constitution Thursday, Volume II, Episodes 1, 2 and 3.
But I did miss doing the show. On the other hand, I got to spend a lot of time with Ben today, including a fun walk where we went and saw a big excavator and we threw rocks and we raced between trees. So there are good things about missing a day as well.
We had been scheduled to talk about Article II Section 1, the eligibility clause and the succession and pay. The first of those is always an attention getter these days.
From the beginning (2008), I have said and I will continue to say that I am not a “Birther.” Now, having said that, it isn’t that I don’t think that there might be something worth looking at in the process of determining Presidential eligibility, but because, simply put, from the word go the current President was going to win that fight. But the more time, energy, effort and even money his opponents poured into a birth certificate (which, by the by is NOT a Constitutional requirement, just say’n), the less time, energy, effort and even money would be put into the legislative and policy issues which were (are) what needed to be fought.
So we won’t rehash the Birth Certificate debate here, except to say three things:
(1) It doesn’t matter today and it didn’t matter six years ago. The US Code – authorized by the Constitution – outlines who is and who is not legally eligible. Read it and you will find that President Obama is – by legal definition under current US Code – eligible.
That doesn’t mean that we can’t discuss the original intent, nor does it eliminate the Framers of the 14th Amendment’s debate who specifically stated that they held to the traditional definition of “natural born.” In point of fact, for the long term it is a positive thing that we discuss the issue AND discover why the law was written as it has been, given the debates on the issue in 1868.
(2) The most important element of Constitution Thursday is intellectual honesty.
Over the course of the four years we have been doing Constitution Thursday I have learned things that I either did not know or had wrong. examples would include the “Jury of my peers” discussion a few weeks back, the Constitutional definition of “Militia” – handy for discussions with some people in Montana and Michigan – and even the very idea of incorporation. Which fundamentally had the right idea, but the wrong way – as the Framers would have seen it – of accomplishing it’s aims.
That being said, when we discover that what we thought or believed we knew of the Constitution is incomplete or incorrect, we have to willing to admit it and to say so. Clinging to ideas of the Constitution because we want it to be that way, is dishonest and defeats the purpose of study and learning.
Many Conservatives are firmly in the camp of the “10th Amendment” idea of State Sovereignty. But how many of them have really studied the words and meanings of the Framers, and the deep concerns they had about States running roughshod over not just the National government, but the liberties of the citizens? Frustration with a Federal government that is out of control will not be solved by seizing the same powers on a State level. The Framers understood this (hence Art 1, Sect 10). And when we understand it, we must be intellectually honest and state that rights are reserved to the People first, then the States.
In the long run, as the Framers at the Convention themselves understood, we have to be honest and straightforward about the Constitution, else we find ourselves defending and/or advocating for something that is untrue. If that was a good enough standard for General Washington, it ought to be good enough for us as we study the fruits of his and the Conventions labors.
(3) Lastly, I would say that as a former Navy instructor and Curriculum Development Specialist, I learned that the best way for me to learn is to teach. Sometimes Constitution Thursday comes off as a pure lecture. The addition of John Considine to the show has smoothed that aspect out, and in preparing to teach John, I learn. In seeing him learn, I get excited about the direction we are going and that has been satisfying beyond anything else we have ever done on this show.
The main lesson remains, and will remain that everything depends upon “We the People.” It is our Constitution, not the Governments. It is our covenant with not just ourselves, but our posterity. As my – and your – ancestors handed it down to us, we likewise have the duty and obligation to hand it on to our descendents. To teach them to always treasure the blessings of Liberty.
And to then hand it down again.
It all begins, as Confucius once said, with the understanding that we know that there is much we as yet do not know.
*Because I am a US Navy Sailor