Looking for new blog content related to my goal here at Constitution Defined, I found an article, written in September 2010, that claims that only 28% of Americans have read the Constitution of the United States in its entirety. Let me rephrase that: less than one out of every three AMERICANS has read the entire Constitution!
And we want to know why our government has gotten so out-of-hand and out-of-touch? Could it be that there were few people with enough knowledge to be able to hold our government officials in check? The Constitution, being the Supreme Law of the Land, is supposed to be the yardstick by which we measure all other laws and bills to be considered for passing to law. Yet when only 1/3 of Americans know the Constitution, statistically you could expect to get it right 1/3 of the time.
I could imagine this figure if our Constitution was some 2,000 page document. Not many people want to sit down and read a couple pages of legalese…let alone 2,000 pages of it. But the Constitution is merely about 7,000 words long. That would be about 25 pages in length typed on 8.5″ x 11″ paper. It is shorter than your latest trashy romance novel, or your favorite Pat Conroy book, or your latest edition of Sports Illustrated.
Congress is supposed to be representative of society as a whole. I believe this might be true when talking about their knowledge of the Constitution. Either that, or they are in direct defiance to the Constitution as they discuss and vote to pass unconstitutional laws. But it seems to me that as soon as they swore an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” that they would at least go and read what it was they swore to uphold. Here is their whole oath, as required by Article 6, clause 3 of the Constitution:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
As I mention on the front page (About page) of this site, how can one uphold that which he does not know and understand? How they be faithful and swear allegiance when they don’t even have a clue what’s in the document? And how can they discharge their duties “well and faithfully” when they haven’t read the rule-book? Instead of a legislative body ensuring that our Constitutional freedoms, and their Constitutional duties, are being adhered to, they make up what they think is “constitutional.” Example:
I challenge ALL American citizens (our our permanent residents) to take an afternoon and read the entire Constitution. Make it a family discussion. Discuss the principles contained within it…not some skewed version that a politician has come up with, but do some research an look at what our Founders intended by their words and phrases. Personally, I consult with dictionaries from that time period. I use Noah Webster’s Dictionary of the American Language 1828 version, due to the fact that the Constitution is the whole reason he wrote it…he did not want the meaning to change over time. Another way to understand their thinking of that time period is to read the Federalist Papers. Both Webster’s 1828 dictionary and the Federalist papers can be found and read online for free.
Let us not be ignorant about our nation’s founding, the Constitution, or the events of today’s politics. You may feel that it is of no avail for you to keep current on these things. But I assure you, every law passed affects you and me either directly or indirectly. If we can move more citizens to become more politically tuned-in, I believe more Americans would be awoken to the liberties that have been swept right out from under their feet, and would collectively demand our government representatives to correct their course. And if our representatives don’t adjust properly, then it is our right–our DUTY–to vote them out.