Wednesday, November 05, 2008

We the people....most of the people.......

Last night I wept.

No not because of the election results but because I lost 20 minutes of good pre election comedy material.

I have four shows this week. Now I have to think up some new stuff.

So I went to my local bookstore to pick up some current magazines to look for material ideas and I spied the bargain book table.

Everyone loves a bargain, especially during a recession.

There were all sorts of cooking books and military history books but the thing that caught my eye was a stack of hard cover dark blue books, with no outsider cover identifying them, that were marked down to $6.98.

That seemed like a pretty good deal to me. So I picked up the top book. The title was printed on the spine.

The Constitution of the United States of America.

On sale????


For a copy of the Constitution?

Over 50% off?

Are you kidding me?

So I opened the book to the first page.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Pretty powerful stuff for $6.98.

The book also contained the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation.

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.

All for $6.98.

I sat down right in the bookstore and started to read the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments of our Constitution, written by men over 200 years ago.

Freedom of speech.

Freedom of religion.

The right to keep and bear arms.

Freedom of assembly.

The fundamental right to petition the government for a correction or repair of some form of injustice without fear of punishment for the same.

Prohibit unreasonable search and seizure, cruel and unusual punishment, and compelled self incrimination.

The Bill of Rights also prohibits Congress from making any law respecting establishment of religion and prohibits the federal government from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.

I got all that for $6.98?

So I picked up the entire stack. Fourteen books in all and took them to the checkout counter.

The clerk looked at me like I was nuts.

“You must really be in to the constitution. Are you a teacher?”

“Sort of. I’m a comedian.”

“I don’t think there’s anything funny in the constitution.”

“You’d be surprised.”

“What are you going to do with all these?”

“Give them away. And you get the first copy. Do yourself a favor. Read it.”

As I sit down writing this I have one copy left. I gave then other 13 copies out in less than an hour. I gave them to the first thirteen people I met.

Yesterday was a historic day for our country. We elected the first African American to become president of the United States. Many of the men that wrote our Constitution and our Declaration of Independence were slave owners. They could not know and probably would never have believed that this event would ever occur.

But there’s a funny thing about our Constitution. It can be changed. We the people can make it better.

The Thirteenth Amendment banned slavery in 1865.

Five years later the Fifteenth Amendment gave all “men” regardless of race or color or previous status as a slave the right to vote.

Here we are, 138 years later, and an African American is the president elect of the United States.

We witnessed history last night.

It doesn’t matter who you voted for. It doesn’t matter what political party you belong to. It doesn’t matter what your religion or ideological beliefs are. It doesn’t matter whether you are a man or a woman. It doesn’t matter what your race or color is. Today we can all celebrate that this country has in place a living breathing document that allows us to change without violent revolution but under the rule of law.

It isn’t perfect. Eighteenth Amendment (Prohibition) proved that. But the Twenty-First Amendment fixed that little problem and assured that I can have a Patron Platinum gimlet now and then.

The Nineteenth Amendment gave women the right to vote. I’m on the fence on that one. I swear my wife picks her candidates the same way she picks the horses.

The Twenty-Sixth Amendment lowered the voting age to eighteen. It recognized that if you were old enough to die for your country you should be able to vote on those running it.

There have been seventeen amendments to our Constitution since 1791. There will probably be more. I can’t imagine what will influence us two hundred years from now.

My candidate didn’t win last night and at first I was a little depressed. But as I watched the celebrations of the other party on TV I saw the thousands of Americans who had exercised their right to vote I felt a sense of pride.

This is the greatest country on earth. We may have our ups and downs. At times we may lean to the left and at other times we may lean to the right but in the end this is still America. The land of the free and the home of the brave. The land of “we the people”.

From the Statue of Liberty we read:

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

No matter what is said about other nation’s health care or education systems or energy policies, people come here. They come here to be part of “we the people”. They come here because there is hope. There is freedom. The freedom to be right and the freedom to be wrong.

There is the Constitution.

I picked one up for $6.98.

You should all go out and get a copy.

Yesterday we exercised our greatest right.

Today… Well today I just hope these pinheads don’t raise my taxes.