There’s a Rodney Atkins song that makes me laugh every time I hear it. It starts out “The Declaration of Independence. ‘Think I could tell you that first sentence, an’ then I’m lost.” Now, if I had to guess, I’d say he means the part where it says, “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Of course I have to laugh, since the first sentence is a bit longer: “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
The thing is, there is a lot of stuff in the Founding documents that we read or are taught in our civics classes in high school, and then we promptly forget what it said. (I’m remembering something about the phrase “I love to wear Xs too” as a pneumonic to help me remember the protections afforded by the Fifth Amendment.) I’m one of those folks who looks forward to momentous Supreme Court rulings and finds the latest news about who is marrying or divorcing whom in celebrityville to be entirely disinteresting. That being said, I don’t remember what wearing Xs has to do with anything.
I believe that the reason we have so little recollection of what our Founding documents say, as well as the ramifications they have on our everyday lives, is that we learned about them before we had any idea what our everyday lives were going to be. Once we got to our everyday lives, we were so busy with them that we didn’t really have any time to go back and find the connections between life and the Founding.
That is exactly why I’d like to announce a series on the Founding documents of this country. I am asking that the authors on this site begin adding to their normal rotation of writing a piece here and there on the impacts of particular parts of the Founding on their chosen career field, area of expertise or life in general. Not all documents, nor all parts of each document, will receive equal treatment, but they will all be included eventually. (Somehow I don’t see the Third Amendment as getting a ton of attention, but then it may affect another one of our authors a lot more than it does me.)
This will be a slow-developing series, since it will be interspersed in with the other writings. (I try to claim I’m not a dictator on this site, or at least that I’m a benevolent one…) The series will have its own categories, so that you will be able to find the different topics more easily. While the scope may expand later, for now, we will consider only the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, including any and all amendments (ratified or not).
With only four active authors so far, we are rather short on expertise in a great number of fields. As such, I welcome others who would like to add to the conversation to email me. I would be happy to publish your thoughts about the Founding documents’ effect on your everyday lives. The dictator in me will still be editing submissions to make sure they are keeping with the overall theme of Rational Conservatism, so please be patient if your submission does not appear immediately.
I look forward to jumping into an interesting experiment with you all. I can’t wait to see how you perceive the influence of the Founding more than 200 years later. This should be fun.