Little-Known, but Important Facts About the Constitution and Their Significance

Teachers, politicians and political advocates agree: You should know the U.S. Constitution. It is important to discern fictitious rumors about the Constitution from facts of the Constitution. How can you be an informed voter without knowing how to spell Pennsylvania? Here are three very important facts of the Constitution and how they have impacted our country.

Founding Fathers Went Green

Before the Constitution was ratified, a senate committee suggested calling our leader, “His Highness the President of the United States of America and Protector of Their Liberties.” Thankfully, the House of Representatives rejected this title and opted for “Mr. President,” instead.

When one considers how many times “President” is written each day, this small decision by the House has saved reams of paper over the centuries. If everyone had to write out the Senate’s title, or even abbreviate it, then paper would be in much higher demand.

Pro: The Founding Fathers green, choosing a short title for our leader. If they hadn’t, then the U.S.’s forests would have been razed decades ago.

Con: With its choice, the House saved paper, and therefore trees. However, the longer title would have forced earlier western expansion. The Senate would have had to send Lewis and Clark when they were toddlers, to cut down enough trees. Only then, would they have enough paper to write out “His Highness the President of the United States of America and Protector of Their Liberties.”

7-Year Presidency

The constitution fact everyone knows is that the President’s term is four years long. However, this was hotly debated. In addition to considering a three-year term, some framers suggested a seven-year presidential term. Four, which is the difference between House of Representatives’ and Senates’ terms, was a compromise.

The Founding Fathers were trying to avoid constant campaigns. They feared a short term would result in non-stop political campaigns, but did not want a permanent leader.

Pro: When compared to a seven-year presidency, four is relatively short. Whether you think President Obama is a communist or former President Bush was a monkey, everyone can agree four years is better than seven. This is one case where seven would be unlucky.

Con: Despite their best efforts, it seems as if today’s politicians have outsmarted the Constitution’s creators. We’re always suffering political campaigns.

Congressmen are Some of the Biggest Failures

Of the 12,000-some-odd amendments that have been proposed, how many do you think were approved? If these were an exam, 7,800 would be a passing grade of 65%. If they were a baseball game, 3,600 would be an average of .300.

Try 27. Yep, only 27, out of over 12,000 amendments have been canonized. Anyone who suggests an amendment is bound to fail. But, give Congress credit. It takes guts to propose an amendment, when you know these chances.

Pro: It is extremely difficult to get any foolish amendment fully ratified. Silly decisions, such as how the government should grow as the country expands, do not get passed. (Yes, there is an amendment from 1789 still pending. It detailed how the House of Representatives should grow as states were added).

Con: It is unlikely asparagus, broccoli, spinach and other yucky green vegetables will be outlawed. If you don’t want to eat your mother-in-law’s green bean casserole, you can’t appeal to the Constitution for support.

Be an Informed Voter

Now that you know these important facts of the Constitution, you are ready to vote. Just remember three things. The government went green centuries ago, so global warming is not their fault. Whoever is elected President will only be in office for four years, it could have been worse. It’s alright if your uninformed neighbor votes for that silly candidate. No amendment will be ratified, anyway. Oh, and Pennsylvania was spelled “Pennsylvania” and “Pensylvania” in the original Constitution.

Be sure to share these facts of the Constitution with everyone. Tell your Social Studies teachers, so they can be proud. Write to your government leaders, so they know you believe in their civil service. Next time a campaigner knocks on your door, see if they know these constitutional facts. Now who’s the informed voter?

More Reading: Gingrich, Romney and Obama, Rick Perry in the South, A Plan for the Jobless, Dallas Coffee Shops

Source: Mental Floss, Jan.-Feb. 2012, p. 22.