The fireworks rarely fly on Sept. 17, but that holiday – Constitution Day – is just as significant as Independence Day. At least, that’s the thought behind a new joint venture of Constituting America and Let Freedom Ring.
The two organizations have joined forces to promote a nationwide public reading of the Constitution one month from yesterday on Sept. 18, the Saturday following Constitution Day. The event – called “We Read the Constitution” – aims to inspire citizens across the country to host or attend local gatherings to read the entire text of the U.S. Constitution aloud together.
“Our goal is really to put back into the hands of the American people the reality that they control not just what happens in November, but what happens overall in the long run in our country,” writer Horace Cooper said last week at the Bloggers Briefing. “The Constitution is the manual for how we’re going to be able to go about doing that.”
Cooper directs the Center for Law and Regulation at the Institute for Liberty and spoke on behalf of Constituting America.
Peter Roff of Let Freedom Ring echoed Cooper.
“We’ve got to get back to core, fundamental principles rather than having these esoteric debates about what is and is not constitutional without people understanding what that means,” Roff said. “Step one is to drive everybody back to the original documents and to have them read them.”
Right now, for example, the ongoing discussion of whether the individual mandate in Obamacare is constitutional requires familiarity with the contents of the Constitution, Roff said.
“People have to be informed to be able to participate in this conversation,” he said.
And information is precisely what’s at the heart of “We Read the Constitution,” Cooper said.
“This doesn’t have to be a partisan issue,” he said. “There are partisan implications when you no longer are blind, you’re no longer ignorant and you start making decisions based on that. But information itself – we don’t doctor it, we don’t try to influence it in any way. We just want to give people the facts.”
Individual liberties are at stake, Roff said.
“We are far too aware of examples in society where judges have taken it upon themselves … to find constitutional justifications to allow for outcomes that they wish to see,” he said. “The security of our self-government lies between the pages of the Constitution and what it says.”
That’s really not an exaggeration. According to a poll from Rasmussen, more than 50 percent of the current political class thinks the federal government should be able to act without limits.
“[That] is scary because it really puts us on the edge of tyranny,” Roff said. “But we can’t just have limits on government without recognizing that citizens have responsibilities to act in appropriate ways, as well. We just want to drive that conversation and have people started talking once again about what kind of country this is supposed to be and what kind of country it should be and, most importantly, what kind of a country it can be or – as Reagan once said – can be again.”