Happy Constitution Day!
Happy Constitution Day! On this day, 232 years ago, the Constitution reached enough ratifications from the States to become the Supreme Law of the land! Today is a day to be thankful for our Republic, reflect on how it has changed over time, and honor the vision and genius of the brilliant men who wrote our Constitution. Rather than the typical explanation post that dives deep into the facts and the Constitution’s processes, today we want to look at it in a more holistic light and consider the vision that the Federalists had for the country and how applying that vision can help people today.
Typically, when you read blog posts, books, or even listen to podcasts that study the Constitution, the main focus is on the explicit facts and processes stated in the various articles and sections. However, if you look at these with no historical context or no biographical knowledge of those who wrote the Constitution, it becomes very difficult to interpret. This difficulty has led many of us in the United States to “leave it to the experts” and trust that when something they say seems fishy, they must be right because they know more facts than us. This line of thinking has become more common over the last few years that you cannot understand something unless you were specifically educated for it. This idea in itself is not how the Framers viewed the Constitution. They wanted it to be a document written for the people and accessible by the people. It was essential to them that every citizen understand not only th
eir rights but also their responsibilities to hold the government to account so that it could go on for future generations.
As readers of this blog know, a few of the Framers spent hours over the course of six months writing eighty-five essays to explain the need for the Constitution. Hamilton, Madison, and Jay did this to explain why the Constitution was written the way it was and to explain their vision for the United States’ future because they needed people to understand it and buy-in.
Now that I have explained the problems that we as citizens face as we study the Constitution, let’s begin to discuss solutions that March Forth will use to make this document more accessible to you and me.
To achieve this, we will be using the Whole Brain model developed by Ned Hermann. Ned was a graduate of Cornell and became a manager at General Electric. While working in the Management Education department, he was tasked with designing training programs targeting increasing an individual’s productivity, motivation, and creativity. He researched with his staff and came up with a model for thinking that many businesses use today. His model divides the way the brain receives and processes information into four main “voices.” A different color represents each voice on the model, yellow, blue, green, and red. Everyone has each of these voices; however, which ones are “louder” in our mind than others make up how we approach situations we face in the world. We will briefly discuss each, and then I promise we will get back to how this applies to the Constitution.
First up is the Yellow voice, known as the Experimental Voice. It is often described as the Why voice and is characterized by words such as visionary, imaginative, and big-picture thinking. The yellow voice generates new ideas and focuses on a vision for how the person wants the world to be.
Next is the Blue voice, known as the Analytical Voice. This is the voice of the problem solver. People for whom this voice is the strongest view the world in terms of problems to solve. This voice is logical, and it thinks in terms of concrete goals and value.
The third is the Green voice, known as the Safekeeping Voice. This voice is focused on the processes and institutions that keep us safe. The Green voice is characterized as detailed, organized, administrative, procedural, and has a very low risk tolerance.
Lastly, we have the Red voice, known as the Relational Voice. This voice is focused on emotion, both the emotions of others and your own emotions. It is the voice of empathy, helpfulness, interpersonal communication, and personal values.
Now that we have a framework about the different ways we think, let’s take another look at how we currently view the Constitution. Most Originalist Constitutional Scholars like we strive to be here at March Forth look at the Constitution from a very Blue (Analytical) and Green (Safekeeping) perspective. And this makes sense. To most people, the Constitution is a document of Laws and history meant to define the government, so to study it means analyzing it and implementing its processes, right? In the case of a country’s Constitution, there needs to be some index on whom
the Constitution is supposed to help and the Framers’ overall vision.
If we try to analyze the Constitution or follow and understand its processes without considering these, we will not come to the right conclusion. Or, even more dangerous, we may come to the correct conclusion for the wrong reasons. When we do that, it utterly strips any credibility of the conclusion we draw. Think back to math class for a second. If the work you showed had a flaw, but you still somehow got the correct answer, you didn’t get full credit, right? The same is true in politics and government. When one side gets the right answer to a question (in terms of the Framers’ view of the Constitution), it will be decried as evil, hateful, and morally wrong if they come about it for the wrong reasons.
So, where does that leave us as modern-d
ay Federalists who want to support and defend the Constitution?
Our position must be as follows: We must maintain our analysis of the Constitution and strict adherence to its processes while also studying the Framers’ vision for a free society that benefits the people they designed it for.
The position I stated seems simple. In fact, many people who go around advocating for small government spending and limited to no government intervention and regulation feel that they are living these values today. Here at March Forth, we would argue that this is just as dangerous of a proposal as massive government and extreme censorship. They are reaching a “right solution” based on some of the founding fathers’ writings, such as Patrick Henry, George Clinton, and Richard Henry Lee. However, the prevailing opinion, the one that formed the Constitution, would have been considered the “big government” option in the eyes of these men.
In reality, based on the writings in the Federalist Papers, we can determine that the Founders focused on making a Right Sized government. Not too big that it could trample the people like the British they just ousted, but not so small as to be ineffective at protecting and supporting the people like the Articles of Confederation.
Today people who believe they are trying to achieve this vision advocate for, what would be considered today, extremely small government to pull as hard as they can against the extreme big government side of the aisle. Thi
s exaggerated small government proposal is exceptionally ineffectual because today, there is no public support for as small of a government as in 1789.
In reality, there is a natural sort of inflation of government power needed in order to protect rights, invest in the economy and infrastructure, and defend the nation in modern times. We need to find a balance and advocate for “right-sizing” the National Government. Advocating for this begins to break down the drastic polarization and win hearts and minds from both sides as the Framers intended. When people try to pull the government size to either of the extremes, their arguments lack well-rounded substance. The other side can use either the holes in their logic, disregard of Constitutional processes, lack of vision, or lack of care for the people they represent. As the National Government becomes more “right-sized,” necessary functions that are cut will naturally fall to State and local governments. This will empower the State and local governments, and as we all know, humans with power rarely want to give it up. They will keep the National Government in check, and the natural struggle between the National Government and the States not seen since World War I will return. Our key takeaway for our readers is tha
t instead of trying only to be what the other side isn’t, no matter your political preference, focus on the Framers’ vision for this country was and align behind it. From th
ere, we will definitely still disagree on how to achieve this vision. Nevertheless, if we can come together as a country and as Federalists from both parties, we will bring in a new age of political and economic prosperity never seen before. Happy Constitution Day,