Tradition. Precedence. Continuity. These words provide the framework from which any institution operates and evolves. This past weekend I saw this concept in action: I attended a church that currently has no pastor, no music minister, no youth leader. Some would think these individuals are critical to the smooth continued process of running a church service.
It turns out that 300 years of denominational tradition more than makes up for any one or more missing people. Volunteers stepped in, following the liturgy as tradition had established. Even the prayer of confession, so often missing in those dreadful “contemporary” services, was covered.Kudos especially to the teenager who led the hymns.
There’s only one thing slower than politics to change, and that’s religion. It took the Catholic Church nearly 2,000 years to abandon Latin. Women, married men, even gays have made progress in joining the clergy, but only in some churches. Others are still slow to change. Let’s not even talk about mixing races and cultures! The most segregated time in our nation is still 11:00 AM on Sundays.
And so now there’s a move afoot to make drastic changes in our Constitution. Abolish the Electoral College. Add more judges to the Supreme Court. Drop the voting age to 16. Oh my. I could write for weeks on any one of these idiotic proposals, but the bottom line is this: yes, our Constitution is a living document, with provisions to make changes as conditions warrant. But the process is deliberately difficult thus making changes only when deemed absolutely necessary.
The 18th amendment abolishing slavery fits that definition. Letting 10th graders five years under the legal drinking age decide who runs the country? Not so much. Believe it or not, our current political stalemate isn’t the first…or the worst. In 1834, neither John Quincy Adams nor Henry Clay got enough Electoral College votes to win the presidency thanks to two [!] other candidates. The House of Representatives chose Adams, who then appointed his opponent Secretary of State. Not all that different from Obama/Clinton.
Adams spent his entire presidency mired in corruption investigations…sound familiar? And then Andrew Johnson fought so hard with Congress, he was impeached by the House…and later acquitted by the Senate. Sound familiar? Things didn’t go quite that far with Bill Clinton or Richard Nixon.
The lesson of history is this: the Constitution is robust enough to survive just about any political fracas. We don’t need to frivolously go around changing it just because one side blames “the system” for their inability to win an election. Unfortunately, some would rather change the rules instead of fielding electable candidates and learning to count.