Loving the Constitution 

Imagine a person with little musical training announcing that he intends to conduct a performance of one of Beethoven’s most beautiful works.  Because of this person’s popularity, huge crowds show up to hear these performances.  It immediately becomes clear, however, that this person doesn’t even know how to hold the conductor’s baton.  Nor does this person know how to read music.  The music at the concert is unrecognizable.  It is a disaster.  

Or is it?  Those attending the performance love the man at the podium.  Despite not understanding what is going on, they applaud loudly.  And when the man at the podium turns to tell his fans what they’ve heard is the truest interpretation of Beethoven’s works, they believe him.  

When conductors of orchestras around the world point out that a travesty has occurred, an affront to Beethoven’s genius and legacy, the imposter shoots back.  “I know Beethoven better than anyone.  My followers know that I’m right.  Beethoven’s intentions are what I say they are.”

A pretty silly fantasy, yet a fantasy that arose in my mind as I listened to testimony recently given about the January 6th insurrection.  What became so clear as I listened was that the only way to understand the steps that Trump and his most rabid followers were willing to take to overturn the election is to realize that these same people know little about the Constitution.  

It seems unfortunate that candidates for the presidency are not required to take a course on the US Constitution.  Candidates are not required to take a test on what is in the Constitution and what is not.  And candidates are rarely asked in the debates to answer questions about the Constitution.  

This lack of knowledge of the Constitution is especially dangerous when presidential candidates with no previous governmental service emerge.  Even scarier are candidates who declare proudly that their lack of governmental service is precisely what makes them the best qualified to serve. 

Imagine someone who’s never played organized football starting at quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts.  Imagine someone who doesn’t know the difference between a violin and a cello conducting the Indianapolis Symphony.  Imagine someone being elected police chief who never attended a police academy.  

What the January 6 hearings are revealing is that after Trump lost the election, his supporters divided into two camps.  The division wasn’t around between those who were loyal to Trump and those who weren’t.  Yet loyalty was the dividing issue.  The division was over those who understood and loyally supported the Constitution and those who were more loyal to Trump than to the Constitution.  

But I am now seeing that the January 6 hearings have another goal besides setting the record straight about what happened a year and a half ago.  The hearings are providing our nation a crash course in the Constitution.  We are learning the foundation on which our country was founded.  

Beethoven’s memory is preserved on complicated musical scores.  To love Beethoven is to be faithful to those scores.  To love America is to love the Constitution above any person—any person.