Jenny EriksonEzra Klein thinks conservatives are silly for trying to understand the Constitution. After all, it’s way too old to be relevant -- over 100 years! In an appearance on MSNBC on Thursday morning, the Washington Post writer told host Norah O’Donnell that the Republican plan to open the 112th Congress with a reading of the Constitution was a gimmick. Furthermore, he said:
The issue of the Constitution is that the text is confusing because it was written more than 100 years ago and what people believe it says differs from person to person and differs depending on what they want to get done.
The Constitution is not confusing -- Ezra Klein is confusing. The ‘issue of the Constitution’ is not that the language is confusing; it’s that people like Klein are so readily willing to disregard the parts of the U.S. Rulebook that they don’t like (like the Second Amendment) and make up parts to suit their own purposes (like the ‘right to privacy’). The issue is that there are people that believe that the Constitution is a binding document, an agreement among a nation of people that broke from tyranny and decided to give self-government a try, and other people that believe it’s a living, breathing document open to reinterpretation whenever the wind shifts direction.
The issue is that there are some who believe the Constitution says what it says, and those who think it says what it doesn’t. There is nothing confusing about the Constitution, and it’s not hard to apply in our modern world. People are still people, and I highly doubt that’s going to change any time soon. Don’t steal, don’t murder, don’t slander … these rules are as relevant now as when James Madison wrote them over two hundred years ago. They also worked pretty well when Moses carried them down on stone tablets from Mt. Sinai.
Even more than being a rulebook for citizens, the Constitution is a rulebook for government. There are far more restrictions placed on what Uncle Sam can do than on what we can. The government cannot restrict our speech, our religion, or our press. It cannot banish our guns -- our means of self-preservation. It cannot seize our property without due cause, keep us locked up indefinitely for no reason, or subject us to cruel and unusual punishment.
Our Constitution acknowledges evil among men, and especially evil in centralized power. It is the foundation of America, the first nation to break away from the tyranny of a ruling class and embrace equality among all men. The preamble states:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Ezra Klein is wrong in his assessment that the Constitution is confusing and irrelevant, and I find his readiness to dismiss the intelligence of the American public rather insulting. The Constitution was so far ahead of its time we haven’t even caught up with it yet.