Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Congress Shall Make No Law

Last evening, as part of first-year orientation week at Dartmouth, I gave a public lecture on the Constitution with the title, "Congress Shall Make No Law." I am not an expert on the Constitution per se, but I enjoyed the opportunity to meet some new students and discuss the ways that Constitutional principles are relevant to their time at Dartmouth. Slides from the presentation are here.

Some teasers:

  1. You could be forgiven if you thought that “Congress Shall Make No Law” was a mission statement.
  2. There are 297 million Americans and there are 435 Representatives, or 680,000 Americans per Representative. How is that anything but an anonymous relationship with the typical citizen?
  3. (Virtually) nothing gets done when your voice, no matter how divinely inspired, is in the distance or isolated. Turn Vox into Voces if you want to restore the civic health in your society.
The students had two interesting reactions to my remarks. First, they were deeply suspicious of conventional media outlets, reacting to what they perceive as consolidation and corporate interests in the industry. Second, they showed a great unease with institutions that are part of the executive branch but that may function as policeman, prosecutor, and jury--the SEC, the FCC, and the IRS, for example.

The lecture was Dartmouth's formal observance of Constitution Day, a reference explained in more detail in the presentation and in the coverage of the event in The Dartmouth.

It was a good event, but it wasn't even close to being the best speech on campus yesterday.

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Anonymous said...

Noah Rhiner's speech was very interesting, and the link was appreciated.

One problem, though, is that actions in today's U.S. do not match words. We are violent. We spend tons. We convert people through force and not love. We do not sacrifice. We like material things, money, and net worth. None of this is very consistent with Jesus.

Nathan said...

"czar" and "viceroy"

how do these figure into the Constitution?

more of my perspective: