So a couple of weeks ago it was Constitution Day. Admittedly, I had no idea such a holiday existed, since Microsoft has never deemed it significant enough to insert into Outlook. (Apparently, it’s been around since 2004 and is formally called “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.”) However, I saw a few mentions of it on Twitter and was reminded how much Republicans love the Constitution, and therefore, government. After all, the Constitution is the document establishing the rules and framework of our government. How can you love the rules of the game and not love the game?
One of my favorite ways Republicans demonstrate their Constitutional love is this great rule instituted by House Republicans last December — every piece of legislation originating in the House must “cite its specific Constitutional Authority.” This is intended to prevent Congress from taking action on matters not specifically permitted by the Constitution.
On the surface, it sounds reasonable enough, but when I read about how it has been implemented, it feels like Republicans may be mailing it in. Instead of making detailed assertions about how the Constitution specially permits a proposed law or action, increasingly Republicans (and Democrats) just cite the entirety of Article 1, Section 8, which is, well, everything Congress is allowed to do, including “provide for…the general welfare of the United States” and “regulate commerce.” Best I can tell, you can make a fairly defensible argument that any piece of legislation on any topic is related to the “general welfare” or “commerce” of the United States.1
Luckily, there are plenty of other examples of Republicans’ love for the Constitution:
- When Republicans took over control of the House earlier this year, one of their first acts was to read the Constitution aloud, apparently the first time this had ever been done in the House chambers and probably the most significant accomplishment of the Republican-controlled House this year.2
- There are 78 Republican members of the Congressional Constitution Caucus. Coincidentally, there are 78 total members of the caucus.
- Tea Party members and Republican presidential candidates have gotten into the habit of handing out copies of the Constitution at rallies, since it is a rather difficult document to find.
- Republicans feel no need to update such a perfect document (except to include a balanced budget amendment, to prevent same-sex couples from marrying, etc.). 70% of Republicans think the Supreme Court should base its rulings on what the Constitution “meant as originally written” and not what it “means in current times” and 69% of Republicans believe the Constitution should be “interpreted as literally as possible.”
- And, according to my own informal survey, 100% of Republicans love this video.
Any way you cut it, it is abundantly clear that the Constitution is one of the most revered documents by Republicans, rivaled only by the Declaration of Independence and Obama’s still undiscovered real birth certificate. So, to show your solidarity, take a drink each time the Constitution is mentioned during an upcoming Republican presidential debate. It should make for a celebratory night!
- I couldn’t help but think it has become fairly analogous to a rule in a drinking game — initially a lot of fun, but eventually it’s an annoying afterthought. I’m specifically thinking about the common rule requiring that you must swear every time you speak. (And I’m not suggesting that referencing the Constitution is the equivalent to swearing.) At first, everyone is pretty creative (e.g., “What did you ass me?”), but eventually, everyone just picks one preferred word (e.g., “shit”) and ends every sentence with it, even if it doesn’t make any sense (e.g., “Man, I’m hungry, shit.”). ↩
- Not surprisingly, there was some controversy as to whether the Constitution and its amendments should be read in their entirety — which would include the parts about slavery — or whether the current Constitution should be read, blending in the amendments into the original. The latter approach won out and the Constitution, as amended, was read. ↩