Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sounds crazy, but . . .

The House's reading of the Constitution was a gimmick, of course, a show for the rubes. But after considering it a bit, I started to think that it is not a bad idea for Congress to start with a ceremony. Ceremonies put us in a frame of mind - joy at a wedding, solemnity at a funeral - that reinforces the importance of the occasion. It can hardly be bad for legislators to start a session with something that turns their minds to serious consideration of the matters before them.

A ceremonial reading of the Constitution would also be made-for-TV (and the internet). Watching the reading, we would review our history, remembering past battles and compromises. Of course, the whole chronological document would have to be read, not an expurgated version. Perhaps this would remind both politicians and voters to think seriously before taking rash stands.

The ceremony itself could be dressed up a little for the cameras without taking away the basic seriousness. Can you hear Rep. Barnswallow announcing "the valedictorian from Possum Junction High School in my district will now read the Bill of Rights"? Pure gold in ratings and votes! And maybe get Americans to think about the whole Constitution, not just the bits of it that are used in campaign ads.

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