Friday, January 7, 2011

Guest Post: Why the reading of the Constition by Congress Matters

[Note:  This is a guest post from my old philosopher friend.  No names!  Just the voice of reason.]

Almost every country has a constitution, even if "unwritten". It is usuallly the basis (if only rhetorically) for all other laws and rules required to operate its government. So having "a constitution" is really no big deal.

But for the US, its constitution plays one other, supremely important role: It is what makes this "a country". In France, Germany etc. etc. it really matters little if its constitution is broken or disregarded. Frenchmen will still live in a France, Germans will still live in a Germany and so forth, In other words, their language, culture, ethnicity, long shared history and sometimes even religion provide a tie that is far more important and compelling than their constitutions.

Not so in the US. This country has a short history, its historical memory is too short to allow even that little to be "shared", it is ethnically greatly divided, much of its culture is a plaything of the moment, and it has great geographical and commercial differences between its various major regions. As has been observed, the US is really 4-5 different countries held together mainly by its constitution --- and this even before it has started worshipping "diversity". More correctly, it is held together by general acceptance of the constitution as a sort of a contract binding on all its citizens and their government. Remove that contract and/or its acceptance, and the only thing that is left to hold the country together is its sheer inertia.

That is why the call of the Tea Party (and of some Republicans) is so important. That is why the current reading of the constitution in congress (and other similar gestures) may be the single most important thing that this new Congress will have done. It is also why the contemptous reaction of the Left, including much of the Democratic Party, is so profoundly subversive.

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