The Constitution. Try READING It For A Change. A REAL Change.

Constitution

In 2002, when an American-backed right wing coup threw out Venezuela’s elected President Hugo Chavez, the people of that nation rose up and restored their democracy. They also fought the coup in the courts – successfully. You know why they were successful? Venezuela has a literacy rate over 95%. And the primer they used to learn how to read is… THEIR CONSTITUTION. While we were absorbing the gripping adventures of Dick and Jane and Spot, the Venezuelan people were learning to read while they learned their rights and learned how the government works.

By way of contrast, here, in America, I am always shocked by the lack of constitutional understanding evinced by fellow Americans. Take the recent letter about Iran sent by a bunch of right wing senators. You needn’t be a legal scholar to know that this letter is NOT treason – because an explanation of treason is in the constitution. It may be reprehensible and arrogan, but treason? Nope. Nor is it SEDITION – another word people bandy about. You can find sedition in the penal code. This ain’t it. Yet that is what so many people are howling. TREASON! SEDITION! They show no understanding of the basics of the Constitution and the American system. I find it embarrassing.

And then there are the people who don’t even know how a treaty is made under American law, so they denounce the letter-writers. They seem to think treaties are the unilateral responsibility of the president and the president alone. Ask Woodrow Wilson about that one… If they only understood how the government works, they would not be in a tizzy over their own misinformation.

Some people are howling for the ARREST of the senators. This brings us to another part of the Constitution: the SPEECH/DEBATE CLAUSE. Clearly, few of us know anything about. Even if these senators did do something illegal, who can arrest them? Who has that authority? The SPEECH/DEBATE CLAUSE addresses that… in the constitution.

American understanding of the Constitution is severely shallow. When asked by NEWSWEEK in a recent survey, “What is the supreme law of the land?” only 30% knew the answer: The Constitution. Can you beat that? ONLY THIRTY PERCENT? 61% of people polled didn’t know that the length of a U.S. senator’s term is six years, 63% couldn’t name the number of Supreme Court justices on the bench, and 86% didn’t know that 435 members fill the U.S. House of Representatives.

Hey, it is ok to be ignorant. It is not a “sin.” We are all ignorant about tons of things. But when ignorant people shoot their mouths off about things they KNOW they don’t know… that is just embarrassing. And here is the kicker: a whopping 73 % of people polled said they were “confident” that they know “some” or a “great deal” of the Constitution’s contents. Embarrassed now?

I have to laugh at all the people who say “WE NEED OUR GUNS TO FIGHT OFF A TYRANNICAL GOVERNMENT!” when all they really need is some knowledge. Like the people of Venezuela had. But that must be too much work… Reading? Comprehending? LEARNING? No time for that… NOW are you embarrassed?

We all have it in our power to do what the people in Venezuela did: LEARN HOW YOUR DAMN GOVERNMENT WORKS. It is all written out for you… What can be easier than that?

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