Sunday, July 3, 2011

Voting No

Saturday was a trip Columbus, Ohio to attend the "We the People Convention".  Full of "Patriots" and Tea Party advocates, I went because of Susan's involvement in the Indian Hill Tea Party - now called the Liberty Alliance Cincinnati (which I thought was a bad thing to rename and lose the brand identity).

The best outcome of the day was the samll paperback Constitution and Declaration of Independence from the National Center for Constitutional Studies.  This morning I sat down and read both documents again.  Interesting learnings came from this exercise.  I had forgotten it was 10 years between the Declaration and the Constitution.  That the Articles of Confederation governed our rebels until the signing of the Constitution  on Sept. 17 1787 (which still required ratification and was not unanomous until Rhode Island finally ratified on May 29, 1790).

Of the 55 delegates at the Constitutional Convention (in Philadelphia) only 39 signed the document and some relucantly.  Benjamin Franklin (who signed the Declaration and the Constitution) said: "I confess there are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them: For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise ...  Thus, I consent, Sir,  to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best". 

From May 25, 1787 to September 17, 1787 (and 10 years of debate prior to 1787),  one of the most important documents of the last 2000 years was constructed, edited and re-edited.  And even with all that time only 71% (39 of 55) of the delegates agreed that it was time to stop talking and vote/sign. 

But it is the very nature of "calling the question" and showing the roster of yes and no votes that is the power of our democratic republic.  And it is the minority of no votes that creates the strength of our system (and probably numerous edits to the Constitution).

Thank God for those who have the courage to vote No .....  and for those who say "Call the question ...It's not perfect .... but let's get on with it ..... we can modify it later".

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