Assigned Reading: MEP Hannan: The Most Sublime Constitution Ever Drafted
(FROM: UK Telegraph)
You all know how I feel about the US Constitution. It was the greatest document of its kind ever drafted, designed to prevent the concentration of power, and written in full awareness of man’s fallen nature. Where most national constitutions come and go every few decades (or, in South America, every couple of years), the US Constitution has served the purpose for which it was intended for more than two centuries – that is to say, it has ensured that the government is constrained and the citizen is free; that jurisdiction is dispersed; that decisions are taken as closely as possible to the people they affect; that power is balanced.
When I say these things, people sometimes complain that I want to Americanise our own polity, even that I lack patriotism. But where do you suppose America’s Founding Fathers got their ideas? They saw themselves, not as revolutionaries, but as conservatives, moved to arms to defend what they had always assumed to be their birthright as Englishmen. The American Revolution was our revolution: an application in practice of centuries of British political philosophy, an elaboration of the doctrine that is our country’s supreme gift to mankind, namely that laws might not be passed except by elected representatives.
This, of course, is just an excerpt. In the full piece, Daniel Hannan writes that he refused to visit Philadelphia without making a pilgrimage to Independence Hall, where “the highest concept of British liberty was distilled into the noblest constitution ever put on paper.”
Hannan says that he loves Philadelphia for its history. And that’s precisely why I still am fond of my hometown, despite all its faults. While I may be counting the days until I can move away, I still pass with reverence the site of Thomas Jefferson’s home each day. And while I look forward to passing a down hour looking out across Charleston Harbor next year and beyond, I will certainly miss having the opportunity to sit in the shadow of Independence Hall and reflect upon just how far we have fallen from the Tree of Liberty.
Back to Hannan, though — I only wish more Americans felt as he does about America, and about our founding documents.