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Our Ratty Old Constitution

How Can These Bewigged Lawyers and Farmers Understand What We Have Become?

How Can These Bewigged Lawyers and Farmers Understand What We Have Become?

Oh, I have nothing against the Constitution per se. Except it was just peachy for a rural slave-owning society. It always amuses me that certain people who don’t profess to read anything but their Bibles have suddenly started sporting tricorne hats and taking on the appearance of the men in knee-breeches in the above patriotic painting.

The delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 could not have imagined what was to follow: Manifest Destiny. The Civil War. Immigration. Two World Wars bracketed on either side of a global Depression. The atomic bomb. The Cold War. Global warming. A completely deadlocked congress.

Our Founding Fathers did not trust the people, so they opted for a form of representational government in which there were “buffers” between the rabble (that’s us) and power. The States forming the Union were all important—particularly in the U.S. Senate, where Wyoming’s 0.5 million people has as much political power as California’s 38 million. Now I like Wyoming a lot, but for all us Californians to have to kowtow to a mere handful of them cowboys is a bit of a stretch to me.

The whole system of checks and balances was a brilliant invention, but when a majority of ultra-conservative Supreme Court justices appointed by past Republican presidents can make their own law in the face of the will of the people, the result is chaos. Now corporations are being treated as people, and money rules supreme in elections (cf. Citizens United).

There are a number of ways that things could have gone, but they didn’t. The political stasis of the last decade will be how this era will be remembered. Look at the faces in the news: You can start drawing mustaches on them, because they will be the villains of the future.

In the meantime, all we can do is try to keep the ship afloat while the Three Stooges pound holes in the keel so that the water coming in can flow out easier.