David Stokes

Do all those who seem to be so enamored of a so-called “Living Constitution” really want the document to live—or are they actually trying to kill it off as a relevant part of our national life?

It is hard to actually believe that something as seemingly and prototypically American as a public reading of the U.S. Constitution by people recently sworn to uphold it could be at all controversial. For that matter, it is even harder to believe that such an exercise should become the subject for ridicule on the part of some whose very practiced free speech is ultimately protected by what Madison and company crafted and adopted back in 1787. That the venerable document remains the oldest written Constitution in use by any nation on the planet, is but one testament to its significance and enduring relevance.

But to hear the media buzz in the aftermath of the reading by members of the House of Representatives from both political parties, it is clear that some on the left simply don’t get it. And stepping forward as the spokesperson for the mockers is Rachel Maddow, host of her own weeknight show on MSNBC.

Seizing on the fact that the reading this past Thursday left out the parts of the Constitution that were later repudiated and revised, Maddow insisted that they should have been left in to highlight that there are flaws in the supreme law of our land, what she called “dumb and evil stuff.” She seems to miss the point that the Constitution itself includes provisions for fixing obvious errors.

Maddow reminded her listeners the other night that “the constitution is not the ten commandments,” though one wonders how seriously Rachel actually takes Mosaic Law, as well. She is a bright and articulate broadcaster, well educated, that process even including a doctorate from Oxford University (Rhodes scholar), but in the case of the Constitution her liberal bias generates more heat than her intellect can handle. She argues that when it comes to the Constitution of the United States:

"You can handle that truth in one of two ways. You could acknowledge that the Constitution has had really crazy stuff in it from time to time, use that as a teaching moment. The Constitution is a living document that has changed over time in ways both bad and good as the country has gotten older. Or you can be a Constitutional fundamentalist and ignore the fact that there has been bad stuff in it over time."

This is the debate equivalent of “heads, I win—tails, you lose.” And it reveals a thinly-veiled sense of contempt for the Constitution.


David Stokes

David R. Stokes is a best-selling author, pastor, columnist, and broadcaster. His latest book is a novel: CAPITOL LIMITED: A Story about John Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Based on a true story, it's about a unique moment in 1947, when Kennedy and Nixon shared