The women's magazine Elle has recently undertaken an unusual initiative. As they said:
"On November 6, 2018, 35 new women were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, making this incoming class the most diverse by race and gender in the body's 230-year history. They join nearly 70 women incumbents, resulting in over 100 women representatives. To commemorate the milestone, ELLE.com captured 27 of these Congresswomen-Elect reciting the Preamble to the Constitution." (See the video here: click here)
Which event made me think about a column on the Preamble and its meaning that I published on the former webmagazine Buzzflash back in 2010. It was called "The Preamblers." With some updating, given the interest expressed by those Congresspeople who took part in the Elle event, I am presenting a modestly updated version of it here.
'Preamble' (1987) by Mike Wilkins -- The Smithsonian American Art Museum 8th and F Streets NW Washington (DC) 2016. It doesn't scan TOO easily, but it does scan (more or less). And man, what a job collecting those license plates!
(Image by Ron Cogswell) Permission Details DMCA
It was back in 2010 when I first thought about a political action organization that I would call "The Preamblers." There were already several political "-ers" group afloat. First had come the "Birthers," with the myth that President Obama is not a citizen. In part, beginning with his joining and thus greatly amplifying the "birther chorus" in 2011, Trump began his ride to the Presidency on that one. The first loud member of that chorus was one Jerome Corsi (who among other things had led the "swiftboat" charge against Sen. John Kerry in the 2004 election.)
Corsi published what became a popular birtherism book, and having now resurfaced in the Mueller probe as a Roger Stone colleague, he is very much back in the news. (By the way, Corsi still holds that Pres. Obama was born in Kenya and that the long-form Hawaii birth certificate that Trump so loudly demanded be produced [it was] is a forgery. Show them birth certificates, published birth announcements, nah, es macht kein unterschiedung (that's German for "it makes no difference"). They know what they know when they know it. And after all, they were at one time egged on by a mass media that treated the "controversy" as a legitimate one (unlike the way the controversy, which has science behind it, over the way the causes of the 9/11 tragedy are treated, of course). So why not?
Then came the "Deathers." These folks include a former Lieutenant Governor from one of the largest states and a former Governor from one of the smallest (how's that for coverage and veracity?). They seemed to be convinced that a provision for paying physicians for what many already do --- counseling for rational end-of-life care WHEN REQUESTED BY THE PATIENT OR THE PATIENT'S FAMILY --- was really a provision for government-imposed euthanasia. But whether or not they really were convinced, they proclaimed the "death panels" loudly. Again, as Josef Goebbels was so fond of saying, facts make no difference when you've got a hot political message to exploit. And again, the mass media gave them some traction by treating the matter as a legitimate controversy.
Then in the line of the "-ers" are the "Tenthers." In this context, "Tenth" refers to the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor pro hibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Generally ignoring Articles I, II, and III, which give a host of powers to the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches of the Federal government respectively, they conclude from the wording of the Tenth that the Federal government has no powers whatsoever, except perhaps to wage war on the President's say-so and to criminalize any belief, religious or otherwise, as to when life begins, other than that it does so at the time of conception.
But you know, when trying to figure out what the Federal government is all about, what powers it really has and, even more importantly, what types of problems the Founders invented it to deal with, to my mind it is a really good idea to do something that is really done: take a hard look at the very words of the Constitution. Those are found in the Preamble. Generally ignored, it just happens to be the Statement of Purpose of the Constitution and indeed for our nation itself.
The Preamble states: "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more per fect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the com mon defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Consti tution for the United States of America." Fascinating stuff. And it is the stuff that the group of new female Congress-members chose to recite. Just imagine. Here is a group of members of the House of Representatives, women who have actually decided that the Constitution's Statement of Purpose is an important part of the document and a part to which attention should be paid. And so, let us do that.
Note first that the Constitution for the United States is established by "we the people of the United States." That's not "we the people of the 13 states [to come]" or "the 13 former colonies of the United Kingdom," or "the 13 independently sovereign entities regardless of what the rest of the document says, that can split off or reject Federal legislation they don't happen to like any time they want to." It's the United States. That's a unity. It is the people of that unity, not of its separate parts, that are laying out the powers for its national government in the document that follows.
That's the first point. The Preamble to the Constitution actually makes it clear that we are one nation, not a group of them. Then the Preamble goes on to say that those powers are bestowed on that national government for a rather broad set of purposes.
1. To perfect the Union, that is not to split it up, hither and yon, to suit given purposes at given times.
2. To establish justice, that is for the "people of the United States." Why that might even include the application of the equal protection clause of the Fifth Amendment (to come) to, gulp, homosexuals who want to take advantage of the civil laws that govern marriage in every state, or to people who don't accept one particular religious doctrine about when life begins, thus criminalizing all others.
3. Insuring domestic tranquility might cover such matters as civil rights legislation, rational regulation of private weapons ownership that is already provided for under any plain reading of the Second Amendment (to come) which, contrary to Scalia's flights of imagination in Heller, either applies just to militias or provides for regulation of weapons ownership broadly), and environmental protection.
4. The common defence, but yes, perhaps, not the uncommon defence, such as having 700-plus military bases around the world and engaging in "preventive war" which happens to be proscribed by Article 51 of the UN Charter, which is a treaty of the United States and thus under Article VI of the Constitution itself is part of the highest law of the land, that is the Constitution.