Congress Rediscovers the Constitution

If the new Congress to be sworn in on Wednesday is the Tea Party’s cardinal achievement so far, its most symbolic achievement will unfold the next day, when the first order of business in the House will be a reading, aloud, of the Constitution – by all accounts, for the first time in the nation’s history. I discuss this issue more fully in this morning’s Wall Street Journal. Let me add simply this:

Symbols are important. When the House votes next week to rescind ObamaCare, as it is expected to do, that vote will be symbolic, because no one expects the Senate to uphold the vote, nor the president, if it did, to do anything but veto it. But the new House, responding to the voters who sent them to Washington, will have thrown down the gauntlet, and the real work will then begin.

Restoring limited constitutional government is a tall order, to be sure, and it cannot happen in a day. But we didn’t get into this mess in a day, either. As we saw a generation ago in Eastern Europe, and are now starting to see in Western Europe, the road out of the ubiquitous state is difficult, with fits and starts along the way. But the alternative is simply unacceptable, because unconstitutional. We’re fortunate that we’re not in as deeply as many others, and fortunate too that we have a Constitution to serve as our touchstone. Wednesday, with the oath “to support and defend the Constitution,” will be a start. Thursday’s reading will dramatically set the stage for the debate that follows. The hard work then begins.