Guest Essayist: Cathy Gillespie

First, a reminder to watch Fox News Sunday, for Janine as Power Player of the Week! Chris Wallace does a great sit down interview with Janine about Constituting America! Check your local listings for airtimes!

Thank you, Professor Knipprath for your essays yesterday and today.  You have a great way of not only explaining, but augmenting and filling in the gaps!

I would like to echo Seth’s comments today, lauding the open and vigorous debate the founders engaged in during the ratification process.  In this essay, Madison takes on the anti-federalists in the most direct attack yet,  by listing their objections, including a lack of bill of rights, disagreement on how the bill of rights should be framed, unequal representation for big states in the Senate and small states in the U.S. House, concern about the power of direct taxation, wariness of possible taxes on consumption, worry of a tendency towards monarchy, etc. The list goes on and on.

Madison eloquently points out that the document is not perfect, but better than the alternative:

“It is a matter both of wonder and regret, that those who raise so many objections against the new Constitution should never call to mind the defects of that which is to be exchanged for it. It is not necessary that the former should be perfect; it is sufficient that the latter is more imperfect.”

Indeed, one of the most beautiful traits of our Constitution is that the founders knew it was not perfect.  They had a mechanism to address that: the amendment process.

The amendments trace our country’s history, and are a vivid reminder for all to see of our country’s attempt to refine this majestic document.  Some of the amendments have been wiser than others.  Some corrected grave injustices, and some made changes that in hindsight may have been better left unmade.  But they all reflect the founders’ intent as to how the Constitution should be modified, if change is to be made.  Even the amendment process contains checks and balances!

Federalist No. 38 is an example of our country’s grand tradition of political debate at its finest.  Through the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers, both sides were thoroughly aired in a way that is a lost art in our modern culture.

Thank you to all who participate in the civil, intelligent and insightful political discourse on this site, in the true tradition of the founding fathers!

Have a wonderful weekend,

Cathy Gillespie
Friday, June 18th, 2010

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