TBT: We The Peep Hole

Got on a bit of a constitutional jag this morning.

Today was the day in 1787 that the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia got into full swing.

Nineteen years later . . . on the exact same date in early August . . . Francis II finally renounces the title of Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

He decided to settle for plain old Emperor of Austria.

It was probably peer pressure more than anything else. All his other emperor buddies snickering behind his back . . . "How's that empire of yours Francis? . . . you do know it hasn't been a thing since like the early 1300's? Wait . . . maybe it's just a misspelling of Wholly Roamin Empire. Like you're totally on the move all the time?"

I'll bet you Tzar Alexis of Russia kept calling him Francine in public places.

Like "Sup Francine . . . your Wholly Roamin-ess."

Who wouldn't abdicate a title when a Russian Tzar is calling you Francine?

Actually he was kinda pushed around by Napolean. Which is even worse. Napolean was just a little guy and Francine clearly knew how to weild a scepter and pose in ballet shoes.

Anyway, with the Holy Roman Empire not being a thing any longer, I'm still it was a sad day for Francis II and probably his wife. Like the pay and benifits are the same, but Emperor of Austria doesn't look quite as fancy schmancy on a business card.

But there was something delicious about the convening of the Continental Congress and the last vestige of the Holy Roman Empire happening on the same day. I couldn't put my finger on what that was . . . so I spent some time reading through the consititution . . . or mmore preceisely . . . readding the Wikipedia page of the constitution . . . which is satisfactorily a lot like Cliff Notes.

Cliff Notes, quite unlike the Holy Roman Empire, are still a thing by the way. You can still get them at book stores and libraries and in a lot of cases, still a much better read than the books they claim to be study guides for.

Looking right at you Scarlet Letter.

Looking right at you.

I don't think they're still teaching the Scarlet Letter anymore. They might be. In some back water state. Maybe they still teach it in places like Portland and Seattle, but from the stand point of irony and not symbolism.

A tale of mysogeny and religious tyranny in the pre-industrial era.

It might be fun to go back and rewrite the Scarlet Letter in modern times.

However . . . that would sort of require me to go back to the source material and I don't think I'm going to be interested in making that commitment . . . like ever.

Anyway . . . the US Constitution is a fascinating document. It reads now like the instructions on a packet of Top Ramen, but when you look at it through the swaths of historical anarchy, it's a tiny peep hole into the best minds of the day who also happened to be rather tired of tyranny.

Most of what's in it seems arbitrarily obvious to us now . . . but in all regards it is a thing which literally should not exist.

Rule through voter consensus?

What the @#$ is that?

Separation of Powers?

You gotta be kidding me. If I were to try that in any other setting the result would be chaos.

Greece tried it . . . fell apart . . . Rome tried it . . . fell apart (not to mention plunging the entire known world into the Dark Ages) and there were very nice things written about democracy by guys like John Locke and Thomas Hobbes, but nobody was taking them seriously.

Except, of course, the plantation owners and industrialists who had never been members of an aristocracy and just happened to be separated from the British Empire by an entire ocean.

That's the specific set of circumstances that gave the world the Constitution (of which just about every other country is modeled after).

One of my favorite bits about it is that it's a total Do Over.

They tried to put together something like it, but forgot to give the federal government any actual power, or as George Washington said "There's no money."

So they started over and changed the face of the world.

Not bad for a Wednesday afternoon.

After it was agreed upon Ben Franklin said "I don't like all of this, but I think it's the best we can do . . . and I'm not sure it isn't the best that could've been done."

Or something like that.

It certainly wasn't perfect, but I think we can all agree that it's the best that could've been done given that there was no road map, no previous consitution ever written, and slavery was still a massive economic engine.

John Adams acutally said "If we don't deal with it now . . . we're gonna have to deal with it a hundred years hence."

Or something like that.

And he was totally right give or take ten years or so.

He didn't live to see the Civil War, but he did live long enough to see Francis II abdicate his title, although he was a little busy running the country and trading barbs with Thomas Jefferson, so he probably didn't care much.

What's funny too is how tenuous democracy (or a republic, which is the correct term) is.

It didn't take Caesar very long to take over the Roman Empire . . . and within exactly two generations later . . . the known world is being run by Caligula.

Tryanny gets going like super quick and holds on like oatmeal to a cereal bowl.

I wonder . . . not advocating for revolution . . . but I wonder what the fall of Consitution will be like.

Will we be conquered and over-thrown by a modern day Augusta. Will we be outgunned or outdeveloped? Could unregulated Capitolism create economic crisis after economic crisis until we all end up having to migrate to Canada for a living wage? Or could Religious zealotry grab such a strong foothold that it plunges the whole known world back into the Dark Ages like it did the first time.

Or . . . maybe a cataclysmic event . . . like the dinosaur killing comet . . . and it's all rendered dust.


That got dark quick.

Anyway . . . I hope something like the Constitution gets to live on in perpetuity at least as radio waves crossing the universe. A forever wave that will shine light on a thing that might not have been perfect, but it's the best we could do, and it's probably the best that could've been done.

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