Tomorrow, the cake I won’t have should have had nearly fifty candles, but I’ll be happy if I get my birthday wish despite the absence of the smell of burning too much wax. I’m not fussy, and each year, when my wife and daughter ask me what I’d like for my birthday, I generally say something like “nothing” or “another year,” because I don’t expect to be celebrated or rewarded for having survived another year. This year may be a bit different. I have the privilege of being born the 16th day of September. For those of you who are unaware, Constitution Day is the 17th of September, but this is one of those rare years when the 17th falls on Saturday, causing us to mark the occasion officially on the Friday before, which is tomorrow, the 16th, and my birthday.
Many have already asked me what my birthday wish would be, if I were to make one, but I always remind people that according to the legend attending the idea of birthday wishes, to state it would be to negate it. In truth, I’m not a superstitious fellow, so I suppose I can share with you a few thoughts on the matter.
The US Constitution is the most exquisite piece of legal artwork in the history of man. It’s a document that outlines the foundation of a country the likes of which the world had never seen. It is a precious thing, full of the best hopes and intentions of men who struggled long over the notion of what sort of relationship government ought have to the people it was constituted to serve. What the US Constitution really codifies is a set of ideals for the governance of a free people who will find the least possible obstruction from the bonds of an aggressive state. It is also precious because within its text lies the legal and political methodology that defines how it may be changed. This is the feature to which early American historians pointed in describing the Constitution as a “living document.” There are effectively two ways to change it , being the amendment and convention processes. This sets our republic apart from all the ones that came before it, and most of those that have have been birthed since, because there in its own text lies the only legitimate method by which to change our fundamental laws.
Before our constitution, there were kings and tyrants and despots. Even the earliest republics suffered from flaws, and the inability to modify them to suit the survival of their nations ultimately spelled their doom. Ours was the most thoroughly studied and contemplated document of its kind, and it stands still, though frayed around the edges, as evidence of the good people can do when motivated by shared values and ideals, even where there are some differences among them. It was not perfect, but over time, we have shored up its shortfalls, corrected its wrongs, and improved it in most ways.
One hundred or so years ago, we began the national process of self-destruction. Increasingly, we ignored our Constitution and began to ruin its purpose and meaning. It’s a matter of national shame that something so precious could be slowly wrecked and pillaged along with the freedoms it once represented, but such is our predicament now that government often rules without any respect or reference to it.
Of all the things I wish, not for a mere birthday, but for the sake of all I love, is to see the day when the US Constitution is restored to its proper place of supremacy, and that those who render interpretations of it are of a character to understand its original meaning and value. This will be no small undertaking, and it will take leaders throughout government, at the federal, state and local levels to see this done. They will need to have the support and prodding of an insistent people who will no longer settle for the proposition that freedom is obsolete, or independence is outdated.
At present, there is only one political party that fosters and nurtures such leaders, and it is neither the Democrats nor the Republicans. Instead, it is an informal association of constitutionalists and patriots who we now call the Tea Party. The Tea Party is an outgrowth of the mainstream of America, and not the right-wing radicals media has portrayed them to be. They’re more centrist in the sense that they don’t care so much about parties, more independent in that they don’t feel undue loyalty to the parties, but strong in their belief that the Constitution provides the basis for a civil society in which all can strive in freedom for prosperity.
This group has no official leaders in the sense of traditional parties, and they tend to cleave to no elected officials in particular, willing to discard or adopt them as the politicians’ actions warrant. You might think of it as a performance-based policy uncommon in an environment where the party faithful dominate the political landscape, no longer sure why they support a candidate, and no longer able to demonstrate their preferred politicians’ adherence to any principles.
As it turns out, this is also a fair portion of the Republicans’ conservative base. That’s significant, because while not large enough on their own to rule the country, they are large enough to control or at least strongly influence one party. If they are faithful to their ideals, they can do more to drive the agenda than any party in recent history because of their centrist, independent strain that respects first the constitution before party or politician. It is here that their secret power lies, because these are the people who have constituted the “silent majority” who had remained mostly quiet as the two parties dominating the country ran the Constitution into the ground, and with it, its law, its economy, and its people.
While they don’t look to any one leader, and there is a wide diversity of opinion among them, they’ve noticed that the politician they support most, because she has always supported them, is one of their number. She rose to her status by being a grass-roots, common-sense conservative. This appeals to the Tea Party, and her willingness to state their case to a media that chases her while ignoring them is something that makes her precious too. She has become their voice, in the main, whether she intended it or not, and it is true that they respond to her in full understanding that she is not perfect, but she is the most suitable to the mission they see ahead. She’s done more to upset the apple-cart of out-of-control and corrupt government and its cronies than the combination of politicians in the remaining forty-nine states. In that sense, Sarah Palin has been the greatest advocate for the restoration of the US Constitution of any politician in more than a generation. The Tea Party sees it, and knows it. So do many conservatives in the Republican party. So also do many unaffiliated Independents and not a few Democrats. This makes her something much, much different. She is the woman for her time.
Never before in our history have we seen such a confluence of events that threatens the very existence of our republic, and we now have a body politic largely composed of crooks and liars, some of them committed on principle to the destruction of the republic that had been founded, and still more committed unto death not to notice. When an American who understands how broken things really have become notices, and worse, speaks out, he or she is labeled a “terrorist.” That is what our government has slowly become. Sarah Palin threatens to overturn all of that. The Tea Party is in the unique position to lead, and this may be their moment, perhaps their last chance for a generation if not longer.
There were two things on my list that I wanted desperately for my birthday. One has arrived in the form of a merciful rain, soft and not fully satisfying the dread conditions we’ve faced here on the parched Texas prairie, but the promise to sustain us until more may arrive. The danger of fire will not be gone, but it will reduce it some for a few days or a week if milder temperatures persist even a little. Having gotten this birthday wish a day early, I at once feel greedy to state another, though in truth, the rains came a day early, freeing up my wish to a sole purpose.
I will not speak it here, or name it, out of a respect for the legend, but I think at long last you know it, and if it is granted on Constitution Day, I will revel in it and work tirelessly to fulfill its meaning and value. Maybe I will get my birthday wish, and maybe I won’t, but if I do, there’s a pretty fair chance you will know it.