A report on the Southern Republican Leadership Conference

Rick Moran
My other employer flew me down to New Orleans to cover the Southern Republican Leadership Conference this past weekend and, I'm pleased to report that there is little doubt that that the GOP is confident, enthusiastic, and looking forward to taking on the Democrats in November.

As far as the speeches go, Sarah Palin's address was probably the best received of the bunch. And Governor of Texas Rick Perry gave a gangbusters of a speech that brought the crowd continually to its feet.

But beyond the red meat and criticisms and calls for unity, the remarkable undercurrent to the conference was the interest in and discussion about our Constitution.

I am hardpressed to recall anything from history - except perhaps the debates over ratification that occurred 221 years ago - that stacks up to the notion that ordinary people from all walks of life are reading and dissecting the Constitution in their own way.

The Founders would have expected this. They believed that each generation of Americans that followed would be as familiar with our Basic Law as the generation that birthed America. Alas, as I pointed out in my Pajamas Media piece , this has not been the case. But delegates to the SRLC - and tea partiers across the country - are helping America rediscover the Constitution. And the catalyst is excessive government spending:

If you start to talk to them about spending, inevitably the conversation will turn to the Constitution and their understanding of how that document should be interpreted.How dare they, you might say. What do they know about 221 years of constitutional law? What do they know about the great and important decisions of the Supreme Court that have defined, redefined, and reinterpreted our founding document through the decades? How can they possibly intelligently address the minutiae, the subtlety, the beautiful strands of logic that have painstakingly been built up, layer upon layer, as our civilization has groped with ways to live together in justice and peace?

It may seem to some a quaint exercise in good citizenship for these millions to wrestle with the such convoluted and complex questions as the meaning and reach of the commerce clause or the constitutionality of the individual mandate to buy health insurance. The condescension is misplaced - and totally unwarranted.

The Constitution was not written in legalese despite the presence of so many lawyers at the Constitutional Convention. It was written in plain, accessible English so that the document could be read and understood by ordinary Americans. It was printed in newspapers, slapped on the walls near the village commons, and mailed far and wide. It was discussed in churches, in public houses, at family dinners, and between neighbors from New England to Georgia.

Never before in history had a country thought and debated itself into existence. When that generation of Americans looked at our founding document, could they have imagined that one day a congressman would say that the Constitution doesn't matter? Or that congressmen could not answer the question of where in the Constitution did it authorize the federal government to force citizens to buy health insurance?

The fact is, we've been involved "in a war against the forces of expansion, and regardless of the reason or the cause, and no matter if the issue is "social justice" or some other noble undertaking, the result is the same: the Constitution being used not to define limits on power but to justify control over citizens." This is what has created so much unease about what the government is doing  across the country. And this is the primary motivation for many to get back in touch with our founding roots as a nation that established a government to protect liberty, not look for work arounds and short cuts that massages our founding document into something it was never intended to be.

Will all this attention given to the Constitution do any good? I think it will play a role in the 2010 mid terms as people demand that candidates explain themselves within the context of constitutional restrictions. They will no longer be satisfied with explanations of how what the government is doing is "good for everybody" or would achieve some kind of "social justice" that may be noble in intent, but where government was never intended to intercede.

I think the 2010 mid terms are going to be the most fascinating and exciting off year election we've had in many years.

My other employer flew me down to New Orleans to cover the Southern Republican Leadership Conference this past weekend and, I'm pleased to report that there is little doubt that that the GOP is confident, enthusiastic, and looking forward to taking on the Democrats in November.

As far as the speeches go, Sarah Palin's address was probably the best received of the bunch. And Governor of Texas Rick Perry gave a gangbusters of a speech that brought the crowd continually to its feet.

But beyond the red meat and criticisms and calls for unity, the remarkable undercurrent to the conference was the interest in and discussion about our Constitution.

I am hardpressed to recall anything from history - except perhaps the debates over ratification that occurred 221 years ago - that stacks up to the notion that ordinary people from all walks of life are reading and dissecting the Constitution in their own way.

The Founders would have expected this. They believed that each generation of Americans that followed would be as familiar with our Basic Law as the generation that birthed America. Alas, as I pointed out in my Pajamas Media piece , this has not been the case. But delegates to the SRLC - and tea partiers across the country - are helping America rediscover the Constitution. And the catalyst is excessive government spending:

If you start to talk to them about spending, inevitably the conversation will turn to the Constitution and their understanding of how that document should be interpreted.

How dare they, you might say. What do they know about 221 years of constitutional law? What do they know about the great and important decisions of the Supreme Court that have defined, redefined, and reinterpreted our founding document through the decades? How can they possibly intelligently address the minutiae, the subtlety, the beautiful strands of logic that have painstakingly been built up, layer upon layer, as our civilization has groped with ways to live together in justice and peace?

It may seem to some a quaint exercise in good citizenship for these millions to wrestle with the such convoluted and complex questions as the meaning and reach of the commerce clause or the constitutionality of the individual mandate to buy health insurance. The condescension is misplaced - and totally unwarranted.

The Constitution was not written in legalese despite the presence of so many lawyers at the Constitutional Convention. It was written in plain, accessible English so that the document could be read and understood by ordinary Americans. It was printed in newspapers, slapped on the walls near the village commons, and mailed far and wide. It was discussed in churches, in public houses, at family dinners, and between neighbors from New England to Georgia.

Never before in history had a country thought and debated itself into existence. When that generation of Americans looked at our founding document, could they have imagined that one day a congressman would say that the Constitution doesn't matter? Or that congressmen could not answer the question of where in the Constitution did it authorize the federal government to force citizens to buy health insurance?

The fact is, we've been involved "in a war against the forces of expansion, and regardless of the reason or the cause, and no matter if the issue is "social justice" or some other noble undertaking, the result is the same: the Constitution being used not to define limits on power but to justify control over citizens." This is what has created so much unease about what the government is doing  across the country. And this is the primary motivation for many to get back in touch with our founding roots as a nation that established a government to protect liberty, not look for work arounds and short cuts that massages our founding document into something it was never intended to be.

Will all this attention given to the Constitution do any good? I think it will play a role in the 2010 mid terms as people demand that candidates explain themselves within the context of constitutional restrictions. They will no longer be satisfied with explanations of how what the government is doing is "good for everybody" or would achieve some kind of "social justice" that may be noble in intent, but where government was never intended to intercede.

I think the 2010 mid terms are going to be the most fascinating and exciting off year election we've had in many years.