Wow! What a day! We wrapped up the last day of Janine and Juliettte’s Constituting America’s East Coast Tour with a wonderful morning at the Supreme Court. We learned about Chief Justice John Marshall (considered one of the greatest Chief Justices of all time), Marbury vs. Madison (which established the principle of judicial review), and some interesting trivia about who can qualify to be appointed as a Supreme Court Justice! We saw the beautiful chambers, and some other parts of the building not often seen. We even saw the bust of John Jay, one of the authors of the Federalist Papers! It is interesting this third branch of the government did not have a permanent home until the Supreme Court building was opened in 1935.
On a personal note, I had a bit of a challenging day, as we found a leak in my closet (and mold!), I got stopped by the Capitol Police because I didn’t put on my turn signal before turning (and had left my purse at home with my driver’s license in it!) and my health insurance was accidentally cancelled (it has since been reinstated), but in between all those events, Janine and I kept reading today’s Federalist Paper, No. 37, and discussing it, so we could get ready to write our essays tonight!
I found Federalist No. 37 a breath of fresh air, after wallowing in the weeds of taxes for the last seven papers. It was nice to take a break, and zoom out to the big picture of the Constitution once again. Madison, the father of the Constitution, is the perfect voice to remind us of the challenges that had to be overcome to produce this majestic document, a perfect balance of energy, stability, and liberty!
In this current environment of political polarization and bickering, I was especially interested in Madison’s observation that, “In some, it has been too evident from their own publications, that they have scanned the proposed Constitution, not only with a predisposition to censure, but with a predetermination to condemn; as the language held by others betrays an opposite predetermination or bias, which must render their opinions also of little moment in the question.”
Today’s frenzied pace of life, which is so dependent on sound bites, and video clips, leads even more to elected officials and citizens who are tempted to pre-judge proposed policies without trying to understand them. Simply because a proposal comes from one political party or the other leads to snap judgments, and subjective analysis. To solve the tough problems our Nation faces, we need to find more of those who have “a sincere zeal for the happiness of their country,” and “a temper favorable to a just estimate of the means of promoting it.” We need more people in our country today – citizens and leaders – who are willing to objectively consider proposed policies, and find common ground to work for solutions.
Of course, it is hard to find common ground if we aren’t starting from the same foundation. That is why it is so important that we understand the founding principles of our country.
As we think about our own government and citizens, bitterly divided by factions, we can see that it was truly a miracle that the Constitution was produced! Madison’s quote:
“The real wonder is that so many difficulties should have been surmounted, and surmounted with a unanimity almost as unprecedented as it must have been unexpected. It is impossible for any man of candor to reflect on this circumstance without partaking of the astonishment. It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution,”
reminds us of the hand of God in the proceedings of the Constitutional Convention and the miracle that took place there.
May the miracle of the Constitution serve to inspire us and our leaders to work towards common goals and solutions, grounded in the founding principles of limited government, free enterprise and individual freedom.
What a gift it is to read the words of our founding fathers, and let them light our way!
Good night and God Bless,
Friday, June 18th, 2010