There’s a story in the news today that the Republicans decided to have the House of Representatives read out loud the Constitution. That’s nice, although I’m of the opinion that they should have already been more than familiar with it. Given how much the Republicans have been sobbing, moaning, and screaming the past two years about “restoring the Constitution,” and saying it needs to defended, you’d think they’d have it down pat by now.
Well, if you’d think that, you’d be wrong. They may be reading the Constitution, but from everything they’ve been saying, and running on, it’s apparent they don’t comprehend it. At least, that’s the conclusion I have to draw after watching them misinterpret various clauses, demand that others be repealed, and do a song-and-dance about what “original intent” was, when a quick fact check through the founding fathers writings would show that … the original intent wasn’t what the Republicans say it was. In other words, they’re treating the Constitution with all the respect of a used dishrag.
Let’s look at some recent examples, shall we? We have Lindsey Graham, George Will, and a number of other conservatives out there pounding the meme that the 14’th Amendment has been “misinterpreted” when it comes to birthright citizenship. The formal name for it is jus soli, or “law of soil” – you are automatically a citizen (a natural-born citizen, in fact) if you are born here in this country. Well, the writers of the 14’th Amendment didn’t really mean that, did they? Well, as it turns out, yes. Yes they did. As a matter of fact, that’s been pretty much the “common law” of the land since the beginning. If you’re born here, unless your parents are diplomats or members of an invading army, you’re a citizen. No ifs, ands, or buts. Your parents don’t have to be citizens, either. Lindsey Graham should know better, since technically he’s a lawyer. Obviously in his case, he’s pandering to the base instead of explaining it.
There is the battle over the Islamic Center in New York City. Conservatives, and a number of Republican lawmakers have been in the forefront of attacking the building proposal. It turns out that apparently the First Amendment, according to them, doesn’t apply to Moslems. Some of them aren’t sure about it applying to all Christians, come right down to it. I can also point to their attacks on the 16th(income tax) and the 17th (direct election of Senators) Amendments. It turns out that they don’t like them at all. Some of them aren’t even sure what the 20’th Amendment says.
What it comes down to is that for a political party which tends to claim to want to hold to the Constitution, to “restore it,” they seem to have remarkably little capability to understand it. They prefer to pick-and-choose which parts they want to support, while cheerfully ditching it if it doesn’t match up with their ideology. They’re reading it out loud today? Good. Will they comprehend what they’re reading? I doubt it.