The elections are over, and I have a personal request:
Could we lay off talking about the Constitution for a while?
The tea party is obsessed with the Constitution. Talk show host Glenn Beck waves it like a panacea. Newly elected tea party politicians are holding up copies like they're clutching the Holy Grail.
These people are acting weird. They're starting to scare me.
I'm not saying it's not a good idea to pay down the national debt and give some rights back to states where they belong. I'm saying I'm tired of the Constitution being referred to as a magic potion with a secret formula that contains a special endowed power known only to a select enlightened few.
It's like we all crawled into the plot in a Dan Brown book.
Any day now we'll wake up and find out it's a Masonic conspiracy and, incredibly, every one of the Founding Fathers is related to Ron Paul.
I am a big fan of our Constitution, but it is words on a piece of paper, not holy writ.
And it's not that difficult to understand.
Three separate branches of government, church doesn't mess with state and vice versa, and I get to write this without going to jail. I get it.
The shrill election rhetoric suggested that we've lost the Constitution. That like my '96 Chevy Blazer, it's in serious need of repair. That we need to get back to it.
But how far back should we go?
For years, the Constitution did not give black people the right to vote.
For even longer years, more than a century actually, it did not give women the right to vote; and for longer years yet, Native Americans.
Do the tea partiers want us to get back to that Constitution?
Do they want us to get back to the Constitution that didn't have a Bill of Rights? Or the one that didn't contain all of the 27 amendments that are now included?
If we go back too far, we lose the right to bear arms.
Should we go back to the Constitution that didn't stop half the states from walking out in 1861?
Or the Constitution that didn't stop the church that first settled Utah from fleeing America's boundaries entirely?
The inference is that the framers of the Constitution had it all together.
In reality, the Founding Fathers got along about as well as a Hollywood marriage. In 1787, it took 55 delegates — many of whom 11 years earlier had declared all men created equal in the Declaration of Independence and then left out about a fifth of the country — the entire summer to draft the document, and then it took two years of debating before enough states ratified it to make it official. George Mason, one of the principal architects, refused to sign it.
The arguing and disagreeing was understandable. No one in the history of the world had ever produced anything like it.
What they finally came up with was a 4,500-word testament to compromise — and the first document in recorded history that defined rules for living free.
Ever since, virtually every country that has even thought about embracing freedom has studied, replicated, copied or outright duplicated the United States Constitution. Now that's a compliment.34 comments on this story
But the Constitution has never stopped evolving. Those original 4,500 words have expanded to 8,000 words over the years and will no doubt expand some more. The Constitution has always been a work in progress; a never-ending national debate with the difference between who's right and who's wrong decided more often than not by a 5-4 vote.
It's just annoying to see extremists waving it around like it's the latest "The Secret." If it helped other extremists get you elected or inflated your ratings, fine, now can we talk about something else?
Lee Benson's column runs Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Please send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.