Anyone who listens to Sean Hannity‘s radio show for any length of time knows that one of his taglines is, “three hours a day, every day, that’s all I ask.” This is, of course, because he wants to promote his radio show, as does any other entrepreneur regarding their own business. So what am I asking of you when I ask for 22 minutes per year?
Twenty-two minutes applies to many things. It is the average commute time for most Americans to go to and from work. It is the amount of actual content you get out of an average 30-minute television program. It is also the approximate time that the average adult reader requires to read 6,600 words. This is the approximate length of the current Constitution of the United States, for which today marks the 224th anniversary of the day it was signed.
Put it to you this way; in the time it would take you to enjoy your favorite sitcom, you could read through our entire Constitution.
Now, ask yourself what kind of America would we be living in today if every citizen sacrificed one episode of their favorite sitcom per year and read through the actual Constitution of the United States? What is the percentage of people who have never read through the entire Constitution? It’s probably similar to the percentage of people who run around screaming about their constitutional rights being violated. The old saying says, “You can’t fix stupid.” However, you CAN fix ignorance.
Is our constitution worth it? Is our country worth it? These are rhetorical questions but necessary nevertheless. How can you truly understand your First Amendment rights if you’ve never read the First Amendment? And judging by the number of people who actually think that there is a separation of church and state in our Constitution, one can easily guess that many of these people have never actually read over the establishment and free exercise clauses of the First Amendment.
You would think that anyone who has read the second amendment would not have any problems knowing that our founding fathers and framers wanted us to have the right to protect ourselves. When it says, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” it seems rather clear.
It also seems clear, at least to me, that when you read through the Constitution in its entirety, especially the Bill of Rights, that the reader’s perspective is not of the people, but of the government. In other words, our Constitution is told from the people TO the government, not the other way around – hence why the first three words of the preamble are “We the People.”
Read through the Bill of Rights. You will see that it can also be called a bill of “can’ts.” Congress can’t establish a national religion, Congress can’t prohibit the free exercise thereof. Congress can’t violate the freedom of speech, Congress can’t violate freedom of the press or of assembly or our right to petition. Congress can’t quarter troops in our houses without the owner’s consent, nor can they or anyone under the authority of the executive branch come into our houses and search them without either a warrant or probable cause. They can’t try us in private, they can’t try us without a counselor. They can’t make us testify against ourselves, nor can they postpone a speedy and public trial for 30 years. And perhaps most important – at least in modern times – Congress can’t micromanage aspects of our society that should be left to the states.
Read through amendments 11 to 27 as well. Remember, only four years separated our original Constitution and its first 10 amendments. The other 17 took almost 190 years to come about. And as you read through them, you will discover that many of them are corrections that come from, yes you guessed it, we the people, not us the government or the Supreme Court. In fact, many of them were passed to correct major mistakes of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of our federal government. For instance, if the Supreme Court would have ruled in favor of Dred Scott, there would have been no need for a 13th amendment. If the courts or legislatures would have correctly interpreted the phrase, “all men are created equal,” to include, say, ALL MEN (and women), there would have been no need for a 14th, 15th and 19th amendment. Because the amendment process requires a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress and a three-fourths majority of all states, it is the closest thing we have to a national referendum. The government didn’t free the slaves, we the people did. The government didn’t give citizenship and voting rights to all naturally born persons over the age of 18, we the people did. The government didn’t stop poll taxes and other things designed to prevent the poor from voting, we the people did!
The true genius of the Constitution was that the framers knew from the start that it was flawed and needed to be tweaked from time to time. But they also knew from experience that they would need to establish a set of rules above the government’s ability to change them. They knew the sinful nature of man and that, even in a democratic republic, that nature could destroy their new country faster than any invading force could. The Constitution is the ultimate check and balance.
What if? What if the voting public of America (which, by the way, constitutes less than 2% of the people on planet Earth) would actually sit down and read their own constitution – sacrificing 22 minutes out of the 31,536,000 we get per year to read what is perhaps the greatest document ever created by man. How much more informed would the electorate be? And how many more problems that plague us in our society could be solved, not by our government, but once again by We the People?