Coons needs lesson in Constitution

Contributed by Warren Mowry

I have been searching all day for a particular news item because, this morning, as I watched a broadcast, I could not believe my ears.  On the day after he got stumped on the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Democrat candidate for the Senate from Delaware, Chris Coons, made an absolutely flabbergasting statement.  Speaking sneeringly of Christine O’Donnell, the Republican candidate, Mr. Coons said (and, admittedly, I am paraphrasing, but this is close), “She actually thinks that the powers of the Federal government are limited to those listed in the Constitution.”  This, dear reader, is the crux of the problem, and the reason that the coming election is so important.

Granted, most of my students come into my classes having never read, and never been taught either the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the reasons for the Revolutionary War, or the rationale behind the Bill of Rights.  Guaranteed, they know all these subjects when they finish.  I would expect that, since Mr. Coons will probably be the next U.S. Senator from Delaware, he would have at least a similar grasp of the Constitution.  So much for expectations.  Since he so clearly needs  instruction, I volunteer to give it to him, freebie.

Mr. Coons, I don’t know if the news media will make much of your astonishing gaffe – no, they’re probably too busy questioning O’Donnell about her statement as to whether the term “separation of church and state” is in the Constitution (upon close reading of the text of the First Amendment, by golly, she’s right).  But I do know of someone who might disagree with your assertion of the broad powers of the Federal Government – and that’s the guy who wrote the Constitution, James Madison.

Madison not only is credited with being the author of the Constitution (and please don’t write about whether he merits that – I know the historical arguments. pro and con), but also with co-authoring the letters, written to newspapers in New York during that state’s debate over ratification of the Constitution, which later were collected and published as The Federalist Papers. Mr. Coons would do well to peruse Federalist 45 before being simultaneously snide and dense. Wrote Madison:  “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.” In one published statement after another, the Framers demonstrated a consistent suspicion of an overbearing government.  After all, they’d just fought a Revolution to get rid of one – they certainly didn’t want to create another.  As the only excuse for him that I can figure, Mr. Coons must have cut high school Civics on a regular basis.

Now, folks, we can argue all day whether Christine O’Donnell is qualified to be a Senator.  But if Mr. Coons’ grasp of the Constitution and his idea about the role of the Federal government is any indication, he flunks, big time.  Mr. Coons can contact me via Carolina Soapbox for his desperately needed remedial tutoring on the Constitution and government – but I won’t hold my breath waiting to hear from him.

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