Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

A strong constitution is good for body, country

 

February 3, 2015

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QCS Managing Editor

It all started when my wife and I were walking our dog and one of us made a remark about how a morning walk on cold winter mornings was good for the constitution.

It probably wasn’t me. More often than not, I am a little reluctant to put on enough layers to look like the Michelin Man for our morning jaunts. I’ll blame the dog.

That led to another question: Does “constitution” in that sense have a connection to the Constitution of the United States?

That led to more questions: Why do we call our founding document a constitution? Why isn’t it called the Charter of the United States, or the Bylaws of the United States, or the Vision and Mission Statments of the United States, or even the United States Manifesto?

OK, the Declaration of Independence was our manifesto. It’s a lot shorter than the Communist Manifesto and makes a heck of a lot more sense. Communism, which was supposed to lead to all people being equal in all respects, never got beyond Stage 2, “dictatorship of the proletariat,” the workers. Lenin, Castro and Mao all said, “We’re going Communist. Let me at that proletariat!” And it never got beyond that.

I digress. We could have called our founding document the “Articles of Incorporation,” too. The name “Articles of Confederation” didn’t work, not because of the articles, but because confederation didn’t give the central government enough teeth to set up little extras like a standing army.

In my quest for answers on the constitutional question, I went to the Internet, and after about 10 minutes of research, I learned a few things.

England, our “parent nation,” had a Constitution that started in 1688, almost exactly 100 years before we established our Constitution. The English constitution boiled down to this: England would have a monarch and a parliament who would share power, but acts of Parliament would overrule the king or queen. The English constitution was far shorter than ours in the beginning, but was a statement to the effect: “This is what makes up the government of England.”

Our constitution does the same thing. It shows that a legislative, executive and judiciary branch will make up, or constitute, the government of the United States.

Now, does that relate to “constitution,” as in “good for the constitution?”

Yes.

That’s because when you talk about your constitution, you’re talking about what makes up your body, so there is a relationship.

Like bodies, constitutional documents can change. England’s changes regularly. Ours has been amdended only 27 times in more than 200 years.

I’d say our Constitution has a strong constitution...

I think I hear the dog scratching at the door.

Steve Hansen is the managing editor at the Quay County Sun. He can be reached at [email protected]

 

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