Monday, January 12, 2009

Handy reference guides to educating citizenry

Becoming an educated citizen requires knowledge of the political system you are working within.
The democratic-republic we have in America is guided by written documents. Everyone thinks our English heritage gave us the idea of a written document for governing, but alas, the English do not have a written document similar to ours. We made our written documents because the English did not have any! The guidance for the government needs to be written down, for people to read, reference, use and understand. We are fortunate to have The Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, and The Federalist Papers. Of course there are many more, however a knowledge of these documents is essential for an educated citizenry. The first two of these documents can be found in a concise 160 page book by Dave Kluge The People's Guide to The United States Constitution, my copy is a 1994 edition, I am sure there is a newer copy. I like the book because it is at the normal citizen's level.
"Nearly anyone can read this easy-to-understand annotated version of America's founding
documents. Every difficult word or phrase is followed by a simple definition; every complex concept or clause is fully explained."(Inside leaf description of book) The third document The Federalist Papers is a handy reference to understanding what was in the mind-sets of the Founding Father's as they wrote the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
The Papers were written to encourage ratification of the new United States Constitution to replace the existing Articles of Confederation. "They appeared in New York newspapers between the end of the Constitutional Convention in September, 1787 and New York's vote to ratify the Constitution the following spring."(The Federalist Papers introduction) There is a very well-done edition of these Papers . It's title is: The Federalist Papers In Modern Language Indexed for Today's Political Issues Edited by Mary E. Webster. "Ms Webster has broken up long sentences and long paragraphs (numbering the original paragraphs), substituted words more commonly used today, titled each Paper and subtitled each original paragraph. The titles and subtitles create an outline of the Papers."( Editor's Preface.)
These reference books help citizens learn who, what, why and where, these documents came from and explanations for their existence. Getting involved in America is a right most other nations do not have. We have everything in writing, so we can always reference it and everyone is on the same plate!!

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