What the Constitution Doesn't Mean

I lived in Houston in the early 1990s and went to a Presbyterian church where the pastor used to remind us to check ourselves for contradictions. He warned that we unknowingly hold to contradictions in our thinking, and that while these sometimes flesh themselves out in a way that makes them obvious and allows us to get rid of them, they often lie below the surface of our thinking, so that we carry about in our minds thoughts that are in conflict with one another and with reality.

And this practice of checking ourselves for contradictions came to mind again and again as I read Scott Ott’s new book Our Fickle Constitution — a book that not only provides a satirical look at the left’s approach to the Constitution, but which does so in a way that also reminds us, as conservatives, about what we know to be true about the Constitution as well.

In short, Ott exposes contradictions in thought.

Our Fickle Constitution focuses solely on the preamble to the Constitution, so it is concise. And the brevity serves Ott well in making his point in a way that is effective without being redundant.

Here is the preamble to the Constitution:

We, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

These words, remarkable in any age to any reader who rightly understands what the framers were up against and what the framers intended for this nation, are perverted with purpose throughout Ott’s book. And the perversion proves to be a powerful demonstration of the contradictory and demeaning nature of leftist deconstructionalism.

In the book’s preface, Ott wades toward the preamble with phrases like “The deepest thoughts of the late-18th century comprise the shallow end of the intellectual pool for today’s jurists” and “Studying the Constitution requires a great deal of humility on your part. But don’t fret. You’ll know what it means when the judges and academics tell you.”

He adds: “The good news is, if you don’t agree with what the Constitution says today, hang in there – it’s not like the thing is engrossed on parchment and preserved in a case of titanium and high-tensile glass, surrounded by argon gas to protect it from decay. Everything changes, even the meaning of the Constitution.”