I just watched Hamilton on Disney+ the other night. I know, I know… late to the party. But, man, what a show! I’ve had Hamilton tunes flowing through my head like a fountain, just popping up, over and over, on a continuous loop. It’s not the worst thing that could happen. Occasionally, I’ll pull Alexa into the fun. “Alexa, play One Last Time.” “Alexa, play Hopeless.” “Alexa, play Satisfied.” Let the songs keep on coming.
Hamilton is good theater, but it also speaks to the strong patriotic vein running through me. It’s not a MAGA patriotism of whiteness and big trucks and flag waving and red, white, and blue clothing. It’s more of a patriotism that’s moved by a truly eloquent speech by an elected official or a giant American flag fluttering in the wind. It celebrates new immigrants taking their vows. It recognizes our wrongs, celebrates our small steps toward justice, and sees American exceptionalism as a willingness to keep working for good, not just for us, but for the world. And for better or worse, it keeps me hooked on political news. And it loves Hamilton.
But let’s put Hamilton to the side for a minute and talk about the Constitution.
I was humming Schoolhouse Rock’s The Preamble in the shower this morning. (I see your eyerolls. Have you never done this before?) What brought it on? I was thinking of the clip of the woman in DC who had been maced while trying to enter the Capitol. She was crying. “We’re stormin’ the Capitol,” she wailed. “It’s a revolution.”
I was thinking of the role of government. I’ve heard a lot of MAGA people complain about government overreach, and that the government is only there to provide for defense. Wait a minute, I thought. I pay taxes. My taxes are going to fund a gigantic military complex. I’m not sure I’m completely okay with that. Are they right?
What were the goals of the Founders. Cue Schoolhouse Rock.
(Disclaimer: I am not a constitutional scholar. Not even close.)
We, the people – Okay, MAGA people have that right. It’s about the people. But I’m one of those people, you are one of those people, as are my liberal and independent friends. It’s about all of us. Yes, even the knuckleheads in red caps.
(Oh, and by the way, this person (ME) waited a long time for her turn to tour the Capitol.
In order to – (Stating the goal, here. Pay attention.)
Form a more perfect union – union… unity. Not leaving people out. Not races. Not classes. Wouldn’t that mean that the goal is for everyone to have the same chances? Should we be preventing people from voting?
(I know perfect union is in reference to the states, but still…)
Establish justice – Hmmm…. I think we have work to do, judging by the size of the police presence and subsequent tear gassing and arrests during the BLM protests (where no elected officials were in harm’s way). Compare that to the response given to the most recent attack on Congress, where armed insurgents stormed the Capitol, attempting to upend democracy by disrupting the counting of electoral ballots. That’s without even getting into the legitimate issues of the BLM movement.
(Keep bending that arc, America.)
Ensure domestic tranquility – Grade: F- Dear Founders, you might think we’ve come close to this lofty goal. Au’ contraire. We have quite the opposite right now. Our leader is inciting violence. Our leader is calling on people (well, just some of us) to storm the Capitol and tip your well-planned country upside down. It seems we’ve strayed from your goal, but don’t you worry, we’re on it. We’ll have this guy out in… Wait… What?…No 25th Amendment ?…… Impeachment papers will be filed on MONDAY?
We’ll get back to you on that.
Provide for the common defense – Yep. Got that covered. In spades. Well, except for the “suckers and losers” comment and Russian bounties on our troops. But financially, yes. We’re covered.
Oh, unless you’re talking about a pandemic, then it’s each state to itself, and “blue” states… well, nice knowing you.
Promote the general welfare – Do you know what would help promote the general welfare? Making sure everyone had access to affordable food, housing, education, and health care. I’m not talking socialism. Just the ability to reasonably attain necessities.
Secure the blessings of liberty – preserving the rights and freedoms of each of us. Each. Of. Us.
To ourselves and our posterity – Okay, the founders were probably talking about themselves. They weren’t known for being terribly inclusive to those outside their ethnosocial group. But in the time since then, we’ve added civil rights and immigration to our stated goal, and America has been richer for it.
There you have it. My interpretation of the Preamble of the Constitution. (Aren’t you glad you stuck around?)
What’s a really great way to celebrate all of this? Why, with a Broadway musical, of course. And I know of a really good one. Hamilton’s ethnically diverse group of talented actors tell this story of the birth of the USA from the viewpoint of one of it’s original bootstrap immigrants. We all see ourselves in the people who populate this show and the people who created this country, and that’s the beauty of it.
As we move away from the events of January 6th, the United States of America, the great, beautiful, flawed experiment, continues on. The likes of Donald Trump and his minions will not cause her fall.
We are living through history. Who will tell our story?
Hamilton. Watch it. Celebrate America. Continue the dream.