I want to say at the outset that I am a political conservative. However, in my search for truth, justice, and “The American Way,” I believe in studying all sides of an issue and forming my own opinion. It is for that reason that I ordered the new book by Juan Williams, “We The People: The modern-day figures who have reshaped and affirmed the founding father’s vision of America.”
Juan had to make the title so long because there are numerous books with the title “We The People.”
I like Juan. I believe he thinks deeply about issues–most of the time. I think he is a self-made man and not a puppet of the leftist system. I observe that he really believes he is a centrist. (up for debate from time to time)
I fault Juan at times. I observe that he entrenches on an issue simply for the “fight” and surely doesn’t deeply believe some of the arguments he puts forth. Well, that’s television entertainment……maybe.
Onward to his premise. Much of the struggle in contemporary politics in America is over the question “What did the founding fathers intend?”, whether that be in “Constitutional Interpretation,” or in general policy. Juan promotes the theory that there is just no way the Founders, the Framers of the Document, could have foreseen or understood the policy matters that present themselves to the American Republic today. He then lays out his argument in 18 more chapters, or subjects, or policies, that we struggle with today.
To his credit, I agree that many of the cultural things we deal with today could not have been imagined in 1776. They would have been “unthinkable.” Therefore, how we deal with them must be either from foundational principles that pre-date 1776, or from the needs and conditions of modern culture. In either case, policy should be a very deep-thinking discussion, not just an ideological argument. Whatever the case for our own foundation of thought, the Constitution does not address them.
So what do I think about the concept of a “living constitution?” First, I DO NOT believe that the high judicial system should be the tool for migration of constitutional interpretation. I believe We, The People should do so. However, the present system in place to amend the Constitution is so very out-dated and cumbersome that I doubt that a new Constitutional Amendment could work through the system on ANY SUBJECT today. We should be spending our time designing a new system for the needed Constitutional migration instead of wasting our time arguing for our own political vantage point. Let the people speak. That’s called a Democratic Republic.
I am not going to get into Juan’s 18 subjects. I would like to entice you to read the book. But I need to warn you, Juan is tedious!, albeit thorough. I try my best to read a book a week, for a regular ol’ 180 page normal book. I found myself so bogged down in the historical details of each subject, story and biography that I was fortunate to finish a chapter per day. I was so slugged up mentally by it all that I needed to take a break from time to time. This book ate my lunch and took over a month to finish! Juan goes into the minute details of his biographies. We need the history. I learned much. I also grew weary. A book must be “readable” and this one just barely passes that test. I like a so-called page-turner, a book that I cannot put down. I found myself closing my Kindle and tossing it across the room, numerous times!
Do I agree with his conclusions? Not always. I found at times he was spouting the main-stream leftist language without deeper research into the truth of what he was saying. I would encourage Juan, an you, to read “The 10 Big Lies About America” by Michael Medved to gain another perspective on some of the historical stories in Juan’s repertoire. Now, Medved is not without controversy as an interpreter of history. Some of his language is simply combative and beneath a researched author. Between the two perspectives may lie the truth of history.
At any rate, I continue my search for truth and would encourage you to do the same. If our Democratic Republic will stand, it must have a mooring to be anchored to. We cannot simply float through future history adapting to the cultural whim. But alas, there is no getting around the fact that we presently face questions of culture and politics that would have been beyond science fiction when our Constitution was written.