May 2016

All through the Malheur Refuge "occupation," almost every newscast featured some man with a gun, waving his pocket-sized copy of the U. S. Constitution and declaring that it (the Constitution) was his reason and his right to be there. When asked to give a specific reason, the answer was invariably something like, "Just read it, and you'll see."

   Now, I certainly can't claim to be a "Constitutional scholar," but I think I've had a pretty good working knowledge of that document for quite a few years. Somehow, the occupiers' point eluded me. Still, I'm a good sport, and willing to be educated, so I read it again... And again... And again. Nothing. Maybe you had to wave the Constitution in the air? Nothing. I didn't have any ruby slippers, but I did click my heels together a few times while saying, "It's in the Constitution, it's in the Constitution." Guess what? Nothing.

The Constitution of the United States has turned out to be a pretty good document, considering the times and the conditions under which it was written and ratified. It wasn't as good in 1800 as it had been in 1787, and was even less useful in 1850, in 1900, in 1950, and today. Why? First, because it was written in the throes of war by men who had never before suddenly found themselves in control of a NATION. Second, name any measure you like - land area, population size, governmental structures, ethnic and racial changes, changes in technology - and it's clear this is not our Forefathers country, anymore. Third, no matter that we hear every day about the "original intent" of this or that article or amendment, it is not clearly written.

   The developers and signers of the Constitution could have done a much better job -- that is, they could have if they had been able to see clearly all the things that were going to change in our country in the next couple centuries. With amazing hindsight on my part, I'm going to help them do a better job. As the first step, here's my revision of the Constitution's preamble. I think it will help.

*   *   *

 We the people of this brand-new United States (smaller than what will some day be the combined area of  the states of Washington, Oregon and California, which aren't even a gleam in our eye at this early date), not even realizing:

            (1) that we find ourselves in a very awkward situation for which we are really unprepared, because we rushed headlong into a treasonous insurrection without any idea of our purpose, the costs, or the consequences;

            (2) that most of our best-educated people who might have been a big help at this point are in Canada, having been driven there after we stole their property, burned them out, and sometimes tarred and feathered them for good measure;

            (3) that the people writing and ratifying this document will, in the 21st Century, be considered to have been barely literate and almost as insular and contentious as the 2016 Congress will be;

            (4) that we have basic moral issues with some of our co-insurrectionists (you know, like the question of slavery) that are so deep-seated and so profound that, 250 or more years from now, they will still be keeping us from forming a real UNITED States; and

            (5) that we don't have a clue how we're going to handle stuff (like, major land acquisitions) that will result when we have acquired big chunks of real estate outside of our current minor little domain, and after 1845 when some guy named John L. O'Sullivan (who isn't even born yet, and his parents probably aren't even here from Ireland, yet) will yell "Manifest Destiny!" (whatever that means) and we will want to own everything from Coast to Coast. (Wait, are you telling us there's another Coast somewhere out there to the West?)...

Well, anyway, we've prepared this little document that we think (or some of us think) will give this tea party  a pretty good start to running this new show we're in. If we were omniscient (you know, if we knew what was going to happen after Tomorrow), we'd know that in a few years we're going to add a 10-point "bill of rights" to this thing that is going to be so obtusely worded that it's going to confuse the hell out of everybody for the next 229 years or more. We'd also know ( if we were omniscient) that our little country is going to be a whole lot different in the next 25, 50, 75, 100 and so on years, and although we think it's "pretty good" as a first effort, we'd know this Constitution is going to need to be completely revised regularly - maybe every 20 years until things get gelled, and then maybe every fifty years.

 As we sign this,  you will notice that we are taking full responsibility for this document, warts and all. and are not giving the blame or credit to any god. We thought about it, and some wanted it, but there were some issues in the way. For instance, some of us don't believe in god, and most of the rest of us believe in god only as a concept (you know, what the Theosophists in the 20th Century are going to call "The Great Total Reality"). The ones who really pushed were the ones in Massachusetts who hung those Baptists because they didn't believe exactly right; they were also the ones who forced a whole bunch of pretty good men and women to flee to Rhode Island over something called antinomianism. (Antinomianism? I mean, is really even a word?) So, anyway, we passed. Oh, I know we're signing this "in the year of our lord," but hell, everybody says that. You notice we didn't do anything really divisive, like writing "In God we trust" under our signatures.

 So, that's it.  Signed, George Washington (and a bunch of other guys), "in the year of our lord" (ha ha) one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven.




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