What’s come over me? I’m still trying to figure that out. This isn’t the first time I’ve sought comfort in the Constitution. For years, during my sons’ sleepovers, I’d read at lights out from a poster-sized edition of America’s “freedom documents.” First I’d read the Mayflower Compact, promising a “civil body politic” to my captive audience. A few lads would doze off. Then the Declaration of Independence, with its litany of grievances against King George III, building to the signers’ dramatic pledge to put their lives, fortunes and sacred honor on the line. Onward to the Constitution and its preambulatory pledge “to form a more perfect union.”
Even if the boys didn’t sleep, I figured, at least I’d cultivate some patriots. The boys’ parents guessed I did it because I’m a lawyer, but that really wasn’t why. I think I did it to honor my grandmother Pearl Aiken, who sent her four sons to World War II. The sight of a bunch of sleepy boys, all snug and safe from harm in a Brooklyn loft, inspired me. It seemed like the least I could do for democracy.
The Constitution has never felt so alive to me, so vital, so fundamental to our shared future as it does this year. Reading it again, I’m amazed again by its breadth, anticipation of feuding states and legislators, bold separation of powers, and concern with tyranny that only a recent fight for freedom can bring. My sons and their friends are old enough to vote now, which means they’re old enough to question and judge for themselves whether our union is indeed more perfect now than it was then.