Has the Constitution Failed Us?

The Medium post from a ThinkProgress author starts predictably by slamming the Constitution.

The Constitution of the United has failed

This is not fine.

A fairly damning statement, but one worth a consideration. Let’s take a look at the arguments. The author first asks questions designed as an appeal to emotion. Time to hit all the social justice high points. There’s an argument about the election being “stolen” by the loser twice in sixteen years. Two questions designed to play into racism, whether by slavery or through civil rights. One concerning the increasing game of “deficit chicken” our legislature plays with repeated fascination and escalation. All often repeated talking points, and ones the regressive left plays with great fascination.

Then there’s the kicker point, equating the Constitution with a holy text.

Americans speak of our Constitution as if it were a religious text. To label a law “unconstitutional” is not simply to say that it violates some procedural rule or legal technicality, it is to label it fundamentally unAmerican. To do so is to question the values of any lawmaker despicable enough to support such a law, and to suggest that those values are at odds with who we are as a nation. (my emphasis)

The hell you say. No, labeling a law “unconstitutional” doesn’t make it “fundamentally unAmerican.” Those who support a law labeled “unconstitutional” aren’t despicable, no matter how much you want to place value judgments on them. It means a court held a law incompatible with some core principle in our nation’s founding document.

Where’s the point in all this? Oh yeah. That “religious text” brought us President Trump.

Now, our country is facing a man of superlative ignorance…(ed. note, stricken all the usual racist, sexist, homophobic, LITERALLY HITLER statements) And the Constitution has placed this man in the White House…(ed. note, stricken the rest of the fear mongering quotes)The Electoral College has voted. Trump will be our next president. This is what the Constitution hath wrought.

No, actually it didn’t. The vote ushering in the Era of the Donald was the product of a nation tired of being told it was racist for not kowtowing to your latest hash tag. It was a vote prioritizing families eating over who uses what bathroom. A vote repudiating identity politics as a whole. The Constitution didn’t place the United States in a position where an entire group of people said they were mad as hell and weren’t going to take it anymore. Bowing at the altar of “progress” did.

But please, do continue.

It did this because our Constitution remains the product of a compromise with moral monsters who believed that human beings could be owned as property…(ed note, again striking a good portion of the nonsense)It did this because our Constitution fosters voter ignorance. It did this because our Constitution can be gamed — and was gamed quite successfully by the Republican Party.

The first sentence of that quote is one worth exploring, but with some nuance. Robert G. Parkinson’s excellent book “The Common Cause: Creating Race and Nation in the American Revolution” suggests, going back to original sources, that some of our Founding Fathers might have “gamed” the Southern colonies into signing off on the Declaration of Independence by creating fake news stories of British insurgents paying off slaves to revolt against their masters. Driven by fears of internal revolt, the “moral monsters” then agreed to join the rest of the colonies in a united force against the British as an attempt to establish independence.

If anything is owed to the “moral monster” sentence, it would be a need to compromise, to keep the lie a secret for as long as possible until slavery could be abolished. As far as the rest of that quote is concerned, the Constitution doesn’t foster “voter ignorance.” That’s on the individual voter. And no party “games” the Constitution until you start whining about how your side lost.

The next arguments posed are how the Electoral College, that impossible villainous group of swine who didn’t succumb to the whims of those who stayed home, are horrendous assholes. They’re nothing but activists who pledge to do a certain thing: vote the way they’re told, by the group of people who actually tell them to do so. There’s an argument over how unAmerican giving each state two senators is. An amusing rant over how the Supreme Court “sat on its hands” during the years African-Americans suffered real tragedies during the Civil Rights movement. A final screed on the number of roadblocks it takes to write a new law onto the books.

Yet here we still are, despite this “failure,” two hundred and forty years after a group of colonies decided they were mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. That’s an amazing run for a “failure.” But if you want to label that document holding some of those fundamental rights you cherish so much a lost cause, remember there’s always a way out.  Take all those well-informed people you care about so much and trigger an Article V convention. No, I’m not going to ‘splain to you what that is. If you’re ready to declare the American Experiment dead, go look it up yourself.

But should you manage to trigger that Article V convention, know some of those rights you cherish so much might just leave you as quickly as the ones you hate. While you might get rid of that nasty Second Amendment that keeps so many shooty bang-bang thingies in the States, someone else might decide that First Amendment that gives you the right to call the Constitution a “failure” needs to go too. Let’s get rid of that nasty Fourth Amendment stopping cops from looking into what’s on your cell phone, or searching your car without a damn good justification. And the Fifth and Sixth amendments are kind of stupid anyway, what with granting you the right to remain silent and speedy, just trials.

Call that document granting you the Fourteenth Amendment you admire so much a “failure” all you want. If you want to enact change, there’s a way to do it. But remember when you do that you’re sacrificing all the rights you hold dear at the expense of those you find odious. It’s an all or nothing procedure.

Your move.


Electoral Grief and Contribution

Today is either the day our President Elect becomes President, or something bizarre happens, depending on who you talk to. Our Electoral College casts their votes, and we will soon know the 57th President of the United States.

Watching the Pantsuit Nation crowd become absolutely unhinged over the election results is a bizarre sight. They’re almost going through the Kubler-Ross stages of grief over going #WithHer and not getting their way. Chris Matthews nearly went Bible Belt Baptist on election night, muttering with disbelief over President-Elect Trump’s plotted victory. People still can’t believe it happened, and mutter their complete disbelief eight years of identity politics were dismantled in one night. That’s textbook denial over a month after Election Day.

The anger soon followed. Cries of #NotMyPresident rang across the nation. Here in my beloved Scruffy City we had protests of “Brick by Brick, Wall by Wall, Racism Has Got To Fall.” Some protests on the West Coast turned violent. Even today some remain steadfast in their desire to unleash fury on anyone they feel responsible for a Clinton defeat. Huma Abedin, James Comey, Russia, are all targets of outrage. The potential for mob violence against an elected President is so great it’s costing our country millions of dollars per day in security costs alone, depending where you look.

With every new cabinet pick the media winds up the outrage machine. Hit piece after hit piece cranks out the moment Trump makes a new decision. One wonders if Trump, the target of immense ridicule and scorn from the press the moment he announced his candidacy, isn’t enjoying fucking with the media every day. Want to make folks upset over education? Put someone in the cabinet who loves private and charter schools. Want to get the labor crowd unhinged? Get the guy from Carl’s Jr. in as Labor Secretary. Housing and Urban Development? Ben Carson. You’d think they’d get tired after continually expressing so much outrage to the point they “literally can’t even” and move on.

It seems as if the dedicated are working their way through bargaining and depression at the same time. Many turned to the Electoral College and asked daily for electors to “vote their conscience.” Some did so kindly. Others resorted to death threats. Another bargaining tactic involved Russia again once a report allegedly linked the nation to some sort of interference through “hacking” in an attempt to make Trump President. That led the push to hold off the Electoral vote until an “independent investigation” could conclude and the Electors informed on just what cybercrime, if any, influenced the election.

Depression comes in the form of some announcing their loss of finding a partner with a Trump Presidency. Others actually filed divorce proceedings when they learned a spouse voted for Trump. Kate McKinnon, the SNL actress portraying Secretary Clinton, appeared on the show the Saturday after Election night in a white pantsuit singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” in what appeared as a gesture of mourning. McKinnon would return to the show on December 17 in a disgusting spoof of the film “Love Actually” begging the electors to not vote Trump.

What the folks going through these stages of grief don’t understand or grasp is the root cause of why their side lost. They have yet to reach a point in their own personal grasp of the election called “contribution.” That term comes from a book called “Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most” by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen. It refers to a person’s acceptance of what they did, however small, to cause a certain outcome.

It’s easy for us to engage in “naming and blaming” according to Stone, Patton and Heen. We do this all the time. Identify the source of what we personally feel is the problem at the center of our lives and then assign a level of blame to the subject. Our blame may be justified. What takes time and effort is the “contribution,” because it requires you to look in the mirror and figure out what you personally did, however small, to contribute to the issue that caused the dispute.

For those grieving that a woman president isn’t getting election results confirmed today, the contribution factor could vary. It could be a sense of outright hubris, that the “most qualified candidate” didn’t get her way into the White House. It could be apathy, since so many people stayed home during voting hours. It could be a failure to grasp some people care more about jobs than who used what bathroom. Your mileage may vary.

Until the grieving understand why they feel how they feel, they will only remain in misery. The rest of us will move on.