Time for a Subject for the 2016-2017 Video Competition

The Quartet Plus

I am struggling with the title for the 2016-2017 WV State Bar and Dept. of Education Video Competition for Middle School and High School Students.

But, I think I have settled on the subject. The news of yesterday and today reminded me that this issue is still in the forefront of American politics, 230 years later. The State of North Carolina is lined up against the Federal Government, with the University of North Carolina and its students in the middle, on the issue of “gender equity” and the use of restrooms. The greater issue is the power of the States vs. the Federal Government: which gets to decide who gets to use public bathrooms?!

But, let’s roll this back @ 60 years to when I attended the annual Carnival in Fulton, Wheeling, WV. A few years earlier I had learned that age 6 was too small for me to ride upside down in the bullet ride. My screams got my Father to stop the ride, and I felt like a baby. My ears still burn from the embarrassment. And I sucked it up and rode many a scary amusement park ride since then to help make up for it.

But, at around the age 10-12 I was drawn into a tent to see a “Hermaphrodite”. What might that be? I had no idea, and I have no idea how I managed to get into the tent, but I remember no girls were allowed. Guys of various ages were crowded into the tent.

Out came a person dressed in a revealing two piece outfit. He/she gave us a little spiel, explaining that not all people are either male or female. She explained that she was part of each. Thus, she had breasts, a beard, a woman’s voice, and a surprise. She stressed that this was serious business, not for titillation, and asked that no one make fun. He/she opened a little flap in her undies and pulled out a 2 inch penis, which she then stretched to about 3 inches. She gave it a good tug to demonstrate that it was both real and diminutive.

We pondered this for a few minutes. No one acted up that I can remember, and we walked out, single file, as if we had just been to a museum. It was very educational and well worth the $ .25 admittance.

Which bathroom did this person use in the last 60 years, assuming she/he lasted until the age of approximately 90? With a beard and penis, one would think the boys room, but she assured us she had a perfectly functional vagina also, and that woman’s voice, and the breasts!? She spent her life not being welcome in either one. To me that’s sad.

The people featured in the photo above were part of a small, elite, brilliant, group who set the agenda for the transition from The Revolutions of 1776 to the US Constitution of 1787. Each was a bona fide hero, each was brilliant, and at the center was George Washington, whose stature may be the primary reason the states accepted a strong central government, with the right to tax, over objection of the states.

The author of The Quartet, Joseph E. Ellis, tends to give Madison more credit than Hamilton, Jefferson, or Jay for the authorship of the US Constitution and its Bill of Rights. But he credits them all for the brilliance and volume of their writings in The Federalist Papers.

Chernow credits Hamilton for defeating Governor Clinton and almost single-handedly wrestling the Constitution through the New York Legislature, and for writing more than half of The Federalist essays.  Ellis also believes that rather than a set of core beliefs, Madison consolidated the approximately 18 suggestions for itemized rights into the current number as a political move to placate the states.

And, it worked!

The author of The Quartet  also believes that the founders would be amazed that we treat this cobbled together document with such reverence, as it was a bastardized creation with intentionally ambiguous “checks and balances” so that the majority could not tyrannize the minority and the biggest states could not dominate. The Founders left it intentionally ambiguous so that the balance between states and nation could be sorted out later. With an issue like slavery looming, and  the failure to create a functioning nation being unthinkable, it was their only hope. And they did a great job.

So, I have no catchy title like “Magna Carta: It’s Significance in its 800th Anniversary Year”, but I will soon. Mr. Ellis assures his readers that the transition from a confederation of autonimous rebel states to a united and powerful nation was neither easy nor pre-ordained, and that it was the most important political development in our history. That transition should be worthy of a video competition. Title suggestions will be appreciated.

Stay tuned. jbh

This post was written by Burton Hunter

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