While talk is made by modern Americans about the need for a new constitutional convention, we doubt that could produce anything that would come close to the lasting and enduring document that has guided the United States since 1787.
We think considering the wisdom and sacrifice of the founding fathers is a good idea as we enter the long Independence Day weekend, celebrating the declaration that established the U.S. as wanting to be set free from the British monarchy. But, it's the Constitution of the United States that made the nation that was born on July 4, 1776, endure to this day.
Consider that when the delegates gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 to draft the Constitution, there were no jet airplanes, no Power Point presentations, no cell phones, no cadres of appointment secretaries with personal data assistants and laptop computers keeping the schedules of the founding fathers. Jefferson and Madison and the rest of the conventioneers didn't have teams of speechwriters preparing their words, nor were there teams of agents holed up in hotels parsing every word and helping form polar opposites at the convention.
There was not a 24-hour news cycle to be filled. Teams of reporters and satellite trucks weren't waiting outside prepared to beam any off-the-cuff remarks from the 55 delegates across the colonies.
Indeed, just getting to Philadelphia was a tough proposition. It took until May 25 for enough delegates to arrive to form a quorum. The convention had been scheduled to start 11 days earlier.
Consider there was no air conditioning, no ready supply of icewater poured into pitchers by waiting servants.
These men were committed to spending weeks and months (it took until September to finish the work on the amazing document) away from their families, their homes and their jobs (the jobs were not highly paid government posts.)
Consider that the document those delegates created remained specific enough to set the tone for the country but not so specific that it couldn't be modified as time passed. It remains flexible enough to fit the needs of a representative republic 227 years later.
Consider that the men who signed the Declaration of Independence knew war would result, and they were willing to pay with their lives to forge a new country.
The Constitution of the United States takes up about four sheets of handwritten parchment paper.
The Declaration of Independence is a single sheet.
Obamacare was more than 1,100 pages long - a single law - and few representatives and senators read it cover to cover, largely depending on staffers to try to figure it out, section by section. So convoluted is the regulation that it continues to be modified three years later even as parts of the law are taking effect.
That's just one law. Consider the regulations governing air quality, water quality, automotive safety, food safety, aviation, banking and all the other federal rules. They, and all the bureaucrats who drafted them, owe their existence to that marvelous constitution written in a hot, non-airconditioned hall by true citizen representatives.
Consider all of that as the cries for a new constitutional convention are made from time to time and ponder the question if it's possible for modern Americans to do the job at all. And then be thankful that in the 18th century, there were Americans with intellect, foresight and the willingness to sacrifice for the national interest.