Thursday, September 18, 2008

Constitution Day

Albeit a day late:

What’s the most important day in American history? Most of us would answer the Fourth of July. But think about today, Sept. 17.

For on this date in 1787, the convention in Philadelphia completed work on one of the greatest acts of creative leadership of all time, “this Constitution of The United States.” The framers rescued America from what James Madison later described as “so gloomy a chaos” and set the world marching toward what we can now see as the Age of Democracy.

Yet there will be no parades today, no picnics or fireworks. Perhaps a library somewhere is sponsoring a talk, but Constitution Day will pass largely unnoticed. Americans have, over the past 40 years, drifted away from a connection to our Constitution, the document that invented the United States as we now understand it and helped it to become the longest enduring democracy in history.

Given that this is what they signed, what the hell has happened? Saying that over the past 40 years we have "drifted away" from a "connection" to the Constitution is putting it mildly. I'd say that over the past 75 years we've more or less completely ignored it. If you can't do the math, my count starts at drastic measures taken by a closet fascist and would be dictator in times of great economic strain...largely caused and exacerbated by the government. No parallels to today, none at all. As an aside, I've always wondered what would've happened if FDR had finished out his unprecedented FOURTH (forget about the third) term. Would he have run again? Would the American people have accepted a dictator in spirit, if not name?

Sorry to shift gears, but the hero worship of FDR is something that has always pissed me off. The only reason the United States did not turn into a full blown fascist authoritarian state during his Presidency is that there were (barely) enough people willing to stand up against him and that, more importantly, our forefathers entrusted us with an incredible governing document. However, how sad is it that instead of being able to celebrate the amazing and previously unheard of liberty encompassed in our founding document I am forced to console myself with the fact that it was (barely) able to prevent our nation from turning into the very thing we had rebelled against?

For the record, I endorse the idea in the comments over at Doug's place to replace Labor Day with Constitution Day.