Thursday, July 23, 2015

Revising the Preamble

A few years ago, I had a co-worker who was incredibly good at reviewing long and complex documents (which is one of the main functions of our office). This fellow (let's call him "Andy"*) could read a three-page document and come up with five pages of solid, well-reasoned and thoroughly-justified comments for its improvement, documented in what we call a "comment review matrix" or "CRM**." When he moved on to a new job, I gave him, as a gag gift (printed on parchment paper, no less), the CRM he would have written had he been tasked to review the Preamble to the Constitution back in 1789. It went over very well, and he loved it***.

I ran across a copy of that CRM the other day, and it occurred to me to wonder how the Preamble to the Constitution might be different if it were being written today. Here's the actual Preamble, one of the treasures of American history and political thought ...

We the People of the United States, in Order 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, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

And here are some excerpts from the CRM the author+ might expect to receive if the Preamble were being considered for adoption today ...

1. General Comment: correct irregular and inconsistent capitalization of nouns.
Rationale: Proper orthography; only proper nouns or the first word in a sentence should be capitalized.

2. Change “We the People” to read, “We the top one percent.”
Rationale: More accurate reference.

3. Change “United” to “Loosely-Affiliated” in the first and last lines.
Rationale: “United” is too strong a term, particularly given the reluctance of many states to accept the authority of the federal government, and to ignore laws of which they do not approve.

4. Change “more perfect” to read, “perfect.”
Rationale: Unnecessary modifier. Something “perfect” is, by definition, unable to be improved upon; therefore, “more perfect” is incorrect and illogical.

5. Change “Union” to “aggregation.”
Rationale: Use of the term “union” invites confusion with workers' representative associations, and will not be supported by delegates from red states.

6. Change "establish justice" to read, "provide justice for those able to afford legal representation."
Rationale: Justice requires adequate legal representation, which is expensive.

7. Delete the phrase, “insure domestic Tranquility.”
Rationale: Insurance of domestic tranquility is the responsibility of husbands and wives. Delegation of this responsibility to the government constitutes an unwarranted and illegal arrogation of rights legitimately belonging to individual citizens.

8. Change “defence” to read “defense.”
Rationale: Incorrect use of British, rather than preferred American spelling. We settled that in 1776.

9. Delete the phrase “promote the general Welfare.”
Rationale: If this language is included, destitute illegal aliens will flood the borders in search of handouts, to the detriment of hard-working, taxpaying citizens.

10. Add, “ensure for all time the right to keep and openly bear arms of all kinds, in any number, without restriction of any kind for any reason.”
Rationale: Criminals and other deadly enemies are everywhere; a citizen's ability to protect himself from Jack-Booted Government ThugsTM and from other citizens is too important to be relegated to an amendment.

11. Delete the phrase “the Blessings of.”
Rationale: Improper use of religious imagery in contravention of Article VI, Clause 3 and the First Amendment.

12. Change “Posterity” to “children.”
Rationale: “Posterity” is not a commonly-used word and may be confused with “posterior,” leading to improper and unfortunate comments of a scatological nature. Use of the term “children” is preferred and will prevent confusion.

13. Change “ordain and establish” to read “establish.”
Rationale: Unnecessary use of multiple terms. In any case, priests get ordained, not constitutions.

The new Preamble reads,

We the top one percent of the Loosely-Affiliated States, in order to form a perfect aggregation, provide justice for those able to afford legal representation, provide for the common defense, ensure for all time the right to keep and openly bear arms of all kinds, in any number, without restriction of any kind for any reason, and secure liberty to ourselves and our children, do establish this constitution for the Loosely Affiliated States of America.

I think it's more suited to our bizarrely twisted America of the 21st Century, which would be unrecognizable to the Founders for many reasons.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* To protect his identity, I've not used his real name, which is "Andy."

**  A CRM documents the name of the person requesting the change, the requested change and the rationale therefor, and provides a space for the reviewer to document his or her adjudication of the comment.

*** He's still speaking to me, anyway.

+ It was Gouverneur Morris.


eViL pOp TaRt said...

That's an interesting revision. Somehow, 'more perfect' and 'united' sounds more hopeful. We're in a mess nowadays.

Linda Kay said...

Ahhh, the thought of being are right, the founders would not recognize us today.

Mike said...

Would the revised create more or less months/years of bantering?

Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer said...

The Founding Fathers lived before the time of grammar Nazis.

Stewie said...

I dread what the rest of the Constitution would look like.