Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Starting the Constitutional Discussion

Yesterday I kicked off the discussion of the Constitution by noting its role as "holy scripture" for political points of view. Today, let's continue the discussion with a few general comments about the document everyone likes to refer to, but no one really understands...

When the framers came together in 1787 to draft a constitution for their new nation, they recognized that the first attempt - the Articles of Confederation - weren't working out because the government they'd established was too weak to govern. And so they had a problem: they needed to establish a government strong enough to run the country, but weak enough to represent the smallest possible threat to the rights of citizens and the individual states. How to do this was the focus of much discussion and argument during the months of the constitutional convention...

The answer on which they finally settled was the result of something long missing from American government - compromise. Not everyone got everything they wanted, but they actually created something.

The new constitution provided for a government composed of three parts: the Legislative (to write the laws) the Executive (the carry out the laws) and the Judicial (to ensure the laws are carried out properly). This structure was designed to ensure that no single branch of government became too powerful ... and it set up the framework for the hyperpartisan gridlock we see today by allowing each branch of the government to be able to limit the activities of the others. The system was cumbersome and inefficient, but would (at least, in theory) result in general agreement and unity of purpose without allowing any single branch of government to gain too much power.

Of course, it hasn't quite worked out that way.

We're going to continue our discussion of the Constitution in the coming weeks, and we'll do it from the perspective of the Preamble, which states that the Constitution is designed to

"...form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity..."

But right now, I have to ensure domestic tranquility and the general welfare of my little piece of the American Dream by going to work. Those bills aren't going to pay themselves.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



eViL pOp TaRt said...

Unfortunately, there's little motivation for compromise: it's seen negatively as being unsure of one's principles or expeditious. Since when does politics or international relations become a zero-sum game?

Strangely, we don't see compromise so negatively in business, marital, friendship, or girl-boy relations.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Very interesting Bill !
I like these history lessons that I think I slept through during my school days or was it daze?

Mike said...

I think they need to install a farting pole in each chamber.