Sunday, September 05, 2010

Mourning Constitutional

Lately I've been reading a book that refers to the writings of James Madison quite a bit, and I had an interesting thought.

Imagine if one of the Founding Fathers came back to life (doesn't matter which one, as long as it's someone from the Constitutional Convention that we've heard of, not the guy from Rhode Island who sat in the back, drank whiskey, and fiddled with himself while all the important stuff went on without him). Constitutional scholars rush to see him, eager to soak up profound insights from someone who played a role in the birth of our country. Excitedly, they gush about how brilliant the U.S. Constitution is because we're still using it more than 200 years later. The Founding Father stares at them, then laughs heartily: "You guys never rewrote that damn thing? What the Hell is wrong with you people?"

After picturing that scene, I was jarred by the realization of how chaotic -- how utterly impossible -- rewriting the Constitution would be in modern times. Issues like abortion and guns would quickly derail the process. Then Fox News would whip the tea-baggers into a lather about how the liberals are going to tax their every thought. Anonymous e-mails will spread dubious claims about every subject. Conspiracy theorists will probably spontaneously combust just thinking about what might really be going on.

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