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Cannonball Read V: The Constitution of the United States

By No Pithy Name | Book Reviews | February 5, 2013 | Comments ()


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Here's the thing. I am a liberal. Unabashed. Unapologetic. Unlikely (Born and lived my entire life in Texas).

As a Texan I hear quite a lot of talk from conservatives. Or from those who call themselves Conservatives. Capital C. They tend to be pretty loud and like to refer to things as being unconstitutional. Some of their favorite phrases are FOUNDING FATHERS! and ORIGINAL INTENT! And TENTH AMENDMENT!

So, I decided to take up arms. By reading the actual document again. And the Federalist Papers. And the Anti-Federalist Papers. And just for good measure the Declaration of Independence and the Mayflower Compact. That's a lot of eighteenth century language to absorb but I think I have a pretty good feel for what these guys were going for when they put together this country I live in.

It's pretty simple, really.

Freedom. For all.

Well, for most, at first. Women and minorities came later, but that is an important point, I believe. They DID come later. Because the country changed. Became more enlightened. We figured out that All means ALL. Not just the moneyed few. Not just the land owners. The Constitution does not refer to "tax payers". When rights are mentioned, it doesn't call us "voters". It talks about people and citizens. This is a distinction that gets missed but it may be the most important thing to take away when reading this document.

I have a few friends, yes, friends, who are Republicans. One man I consider to be one of my best friends. He knows I would do anything for him and I know the reverse is true. We disagree on most political matters, but we are able to talk about those differences, usually calmly. We probably haven't changed each other minds on much, if anything, but we maintain a dialogue, and have remained friends.

When reading about the writing of The Constitution and the establishment of the government, it becomes apparent that these men did not agree on everything. Things sometimes got heated and angry words were exchanged. But in the end, they got the job done. People holding opposing sides of an issue made compromises for the betterment of this infant country.

The Constitution started out as an imperfect document, and there have been a few challenges over the years. But along the way, I think we have striven to "form a more perfect union."

May that always be the case.

This review is part of the volunteer Cannonball Read V. Read all about it, and for more of No Pithy Name's reviews, check out his blog, druferworld.

(Note: Any revenue generated from purchases made through the amazon.com affiliate links in this review will be donated in entirety to the American Cancer Society.)







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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • thedush

    It would be great if our Representatives remembered that the Constitution can be amended rather than skirting it or spinning an interpretation of it if something needs to happen to move the nation forward.

  • Fingolfin

    The 'Mayflower Compact' is not an eighteenth century document (although I do recognize that you're emphasizing the word 'language'), and isn't nearly as important as, say, the Magna Carta is in regards to what the US Constitution is supposed to represent and where it draws inspiration from. The 'Fundamental Orders' from the Connecticut River colony is also equally important, as it served as the basis for the first state constitution, and later the US Constitution being discussed here.

    Other than that, this is a fine article with some nice sentiments.

  • Kballs

    For some reason it always bums me out that a point of pride for some people is being able to remain friends with someone even though they are not in your political party.

  • No Pithy Name

    Fair enough, though I am not sure that political party labels are sufficient to describe the differences between me and my friend.

    Sometimes I question his sanity, and mine. There have been times when I wonder whether I want to stay friends with someone who supports positions that I believe to be indefensible. It certainly isn't pride. Maybe I just want him to hear the opposing point of view from someone he can't just brush off as a crank.

  • Kballs

    I agree that there are some people whose viewpoints on certain things skew your feelings toward them. Like people who still want the metric system. It's like, fuck you man. If those pinko commies couldn't sneak it in under Clinton's constantly exposed genitals, it ain't gonna happen.

  • ,

    , daughter played in the orchestra as part of a presentation of the Bill of Rights set to music, at Faneuil Hall last year. Here's a snippet:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

    (chanting) "The right of the people to be secure in their homes and their possessions ..."

  • Jannymac

    What a refreshing way to start the morning. I haven't read the Constitution in many years, but the Declaration is read every year on the 4th. Here's how I do it, in case anyone is interested in doing same. At the barbecue that I throw before the city fireworks (which I can see from my back yard), everyone gets a piece of paper with a number and a sentence from the document. Right before the fireworks, we line up in order and each person recites their sentence. Most people give it to their kids, some people have it memorized, the older folks say it with meaning and the teenagers with irony, but I don't think anyone walks away from it not moved a little bit.

  • BWeaves

    COOL

  • mswas

    What a great idea!

  • shake

    I never really read the Declaration of Independence in its
    entirety, just got the “Cliff Notes” version in school.

    One fourth of July I was visiting an Aunt in Ashland,
    Oregon. As part of the holiday
    celebrations, the mayor of Ashland read the Declaration on stage in the outdoor
    amphitheater in the city park.

    He read it with real emotion. During the speech the audience
    erupted in hissing when the King’s name was mentioned, and several “Down with the King!” were shouted.

    When the United States of America was mentioned, the crowd
    cheered. I swear at that point if the
    King had shown up I think we would have stoned him.

    Anyway, hearing it read that way made the Declaration “real”
    to me. I can only imagine how stirring it must have been when the colonists
    heard/read it for the first time.

  • PaddyDog

    I now want to live in Ashland, Oregon

  • mswas

    I would have cheered too!

  • Monica

    I read this as a poem, a little patriotic poem.

  • BWeaves

    Out country was an experiment. Nobody had a country that wasn't ruled by a king before, but by elected officials with a time limit. Nobody else had taxation WITH representation. We're still experimenting and growing and changing our laws and adding new ones. There are a few new countries who copied our constitution word for word, as it was easier than starting from scratch. That's a compliment that our experiment is working.

    I should have said this first, but congratulations on actually reading all those documents! My husband has all those you've mentioned, and I really need to read them again, myself. It's been too many years and I've forgotten a lot of it.

    I also recommend Samuel Johnson's Dictionary. It helps clear up the meanings of the 18th century words in those documents.

    Ex. Let

    Nowadays, if I said, "I let him borrow my car." it means I allowed him to borrow my car.

    In the 1700's, if I said, "I let him borrow my horse." it meant I PREVENTED him from borrowing my horse.

    Even Congress keeps a copy of that old dictionary around to make sure they understand the true meaning of all the words as intended by our founding fathers.

  • whatever

    Um...Switzerland? Rome? Some of the Greek city states?

  • BWeaves

    Well, I meant modernish times. And Switzerland doesn't count. It's just a watch and chocolate factory.

  • Fingolfin

    Always makes me frown when people mock the Swiss. They've practically perfected a decentralized government, almost every house has someone in it who is proficient with a firearm, and for a country with little to no natural resources, they are masters of economics and have prospered for centuries now.

    Plus, they've pretty much laughed in the face of every European bureaucrat who has insisted numerous times that it would somehow be beneficial for them to join the nonsensical clusterfuck that is the EU. I like that.

  • India...the North Americas prior to the Europeans slaughtering the lot of them, numerous tribes around the world at various levels of advancement...pretty much PLENTY of folks did not have a centralized monarchy.

  • NateMan

    Well said. I think most rational people on both sides of the aisle agree on most goals. No one should live in poverty. No one should live in fear. No one should be treated differently because of the color of their skin, their religion, their gender, or their sexual orientation. No one should need an abortion. What we differ on is how to arrive at that point. I'm clearly biased towards a liberal viewpoint; I believe there's a lot more gray than black and white in these issues, and I believe there's a louder minority on the Right that drowns out the more rational voices. But if we could just move past that, I think we could really move towards that utopia intended all those years ago.

    Sadly, my cynicism says we'll never get there. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.

  • Another bitter cynic

    It appears a "perfect" United States is really a process *as* it's goal. Our perfect society is not one without conflict and change. It's one where we are able to address and challenge those conflicts freely, equally & without tyranny.

  • BlackRabbit

    I was going to follow up with a cynical comment, but you already did. That said, I agree with both the review (though I don't know that the Constitution is 100 pages) and your remark. I personally don't feel politics should be discussed here, however.

  • Jannymac

    But it can be so entertaining!

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