The United States Constitution promised a More Perfect Union. It’s a shame no one bothered to write a more perfect Constitution—one that didn’t trigger more than two centuries of arguments about what the darn thing actually says.
Perfection is at hand. A new, improved Constitution is here. And you are holding it.
But first, some historical context: In the eighteenth century, a lawyer named James Madison gathered his friends in Philadelphia and, over four long months, wrote four short pages: the Constitution of the United States of America. Not bad.
In the nineteenth century, a president named Abraham Lincoln freed an entire people from the flaws in that Constitution by signing the Emancipation Proclamation. Pretty impressive.
And in the twentieth century, a doctor at the Bethesda Naval Hospital delivered a baby—but not just any baby. Because in the twenty-first century, that baby would become a man, that man would become a patriot, and that patriot would rescue a country . . . by single-handedly rewriting that Constitution.
Why? We think of our Constitution as the painstakingly designed blueprint drawn up by, in Thomas Jefferson’s words, an “assembly of demigods” who laid the foundation for the sturdiest republic ever created. The truth is, it was no blueprint at all but an Etch A Sketch, a haphazard series of blunders, shaken clean and redrawn countless times during a summer of petty debates, drunken ramblings, and desperate compromise—as much the product of an “assembly of demigods” as a confederacy of dunces.
No wonder George Washington wished it “had been made more perfect.” No wonder Benjamin Franklin stomached it only “with all its faults.” The Constitution they wrote is a hot mess. For starters, it doesn’t mention slavery, or democracy, or even Facebook; it plays favorites among the states; it has typos, smudges, and misspellings; and its Preamble, its most famous passage, was wri...
Emmy Award winner Kevin Bleyer is an Emmy Award–winning writer for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, for which he has won multiple Emmy Awards. Before rewriting the Constitution, Bleyer co-authored the #1 New York Times bestseller Earth: The Book, and negotiated bipartisan consensus as a writer and producer for Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher and Dennis Miller. And he is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, so he secretly runs the government already. He lives in New York, where he regularly poses for portraits.
From the Hardcover edition.
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