How did we get here? How do we reclaim our Founding identity? How about an essay contest? How about a blog? "I keep having a dream about a billboard on the Sunset Strip for constitutingamerica.org." Turner tells me. There's no billboard yet, but there's a communal reading going on. Constituting America's 90-day read-the-Constitution project is in full swing. Constituting America has constitutional scholars, activists, and think-tank analysts contributing to an accompanying blog.
And as for the contest: It's aimed at elementary-school, middle-school and high-school students. It incorporates verbal and Web video talents. Turner believes that people who creatively engage with the Constitution will be "on fire" as a citizens. "On fire" is a phrase you'll hear frequently from Turner, who has a passion for civics that channels exactly what I've seen at Tea Parties.
"Many of us are finding our voice right now," she says. They're going to protests and town halls and starting blogs and contributing to conservative politicians like Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown and Marco Rubio, running for Senate in Florida, and realizing nothing is inevitable in politics. They are considering running for local office themselves.
And Janine Turner's task includes building the foundation for the next generation's civic voice, while encouraging all of us to do the same. Starting with her daughter and maybe with an opportunity for yours, too. Prizes include, appropriately, a visit to Constitution Hall.
I write this minutes after reading a piece about how the media is overblowing the Tea Party movement, which turns out to be just a lot of right-leaning Americans. It's not a revolutionary movement or a new phenomenon. It's Americans who see their views being sidelined by the majority power Washington, and asserting those views.
Turner, the daughter of a West Point graduate, stood next to me recently looking out on the National Mall. "I think our Founding Fathers would be proud," she said. Maybe not about too-big-to-fail banks or health care we can't pay for or infringements on civil liberties. But they would be proud of the fact that Americans are paying attention and getting involved and, instead of giving up, are fighting back.