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Teaching The Constitution In A Post-Democratic USA

Teaching The Constitution In A Post-Democratic America

By Mark W. Bradley

Like countless thousands of history teachers in public schools across the length and breadth of this great land, I've made a career out of touting the genius of the United States Constitution, particularly its uncanny ability to strike a delicate, but durable, balance between the will of the majority and the essential liberty of the individual. In fact, I'm old enough to recall the halcyon days when such lofty paeans still resonated with a modicum of truth. In recent days, however, each time I've resorted to this type of rhetorical hyperbole in my classroom, I've experienced the disturbing sensation that the tip of my nose is growing increasingly distant from the rest of my face. One day last week, a boy in the third row complained it had poked him in the eye.

It's not as if I set out to lie to my students, mind you. It's just that the implications of our current Constitutional horror show are so frightening and abhorrent that I feel compelled to address them with trepidation, if at all.

How, for instance, am I to explain the single-minded dedication of King George the Usurper and his morally retarded courtiers to the proposition that all men (certainly not women) are created equal, but that the rich and powerful are more equal than the rest of us, and the voracious corporate leviathans that gobble us up like guppies are the most equal of all?

How will I manage to draw back the conjurer's veil and reveal to these sacrificial lambs-in-waiting the unimaginable horror that awaits so many of them on the once-and-future killing fields of Babylon and Persepolis?

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And how, pray tell, can I hope to illuminate for their parents the unpleasant truth that when it comes to "No Child Left Behind," the Arrogant Airhead of Crawford is leading us along a path of deception first trod by the malevolent Pied Piper of Hamlin?

The task is indeed a daunting one. Not only have Bush and his buddies diabolically bent, twisted and corkscrewed this nation's most revered document into a noxious Orwellian pretzel, they've managed to get the thing firmly lodged in the windpipe of the Republic. And just in case you're looking for Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas and company to pull off a Heimlich Maneuver here, pardon the expression, but don't hold your breath.

As for those of us educators who wish to hold onto our careers well into the impending Age of Benightedness, prudence may well dictate a new modus operandi. Perhaps it would behoove us to bring our curriculum into closer alignment with whatever message is currently being beamed at the president "from beyond the stars." Aside from our integrity (a commodity of decidedly declining value in today's market), what have we got to lose?

Come to think of it, why shouldn't we let God back into the classroom? I mean, it's not as if all those nasty French ideas about "social contracts" and "rational thought" ever really caught on here in America anyway, so what's the big deal? If we cranky old Liberals would just stop all the grousing, quit fighting the inevitable, and get with the program, maybe we could all lock arms and march boldly forward into the brave new classroom of the future. Just imagine...

Mr. Ladrone: Good morning, class, and welcome to another profitable day of proselytizing here at Honeywell-Halliburton High School, home of the "Fighting Worker Bees." While the girls in the back of the room look on in admiration, I'd like each of you boys to face the portrait of Our Benevolent Leader, place your left hand on your copy of "The Children's Illustrated Book of Revelations," extend your right arm upward at a 45 degree angle (palm facing down) in a nice manly salute, and join me in reciting the Pledge of Obedience. Ready, Salute, Pledge: I pledge obedience to the Flag of the Corporate States of America, and to the Plutarchy for which it stands, One people, One nation, One leader, under a Vengeful but Just God, with guaranteed Low Prices and Homeland Security for all. Amen.

Our corporate sponsor for today's lesson is Gristle-Frost Industries, makers of the "Beef Pop," a delicious 1/4 pound ice-cream bar made from 100% brain-fed beef, and sweetened with genuine Chernobyl Farms Ukrainian Corn Syrup. Remember, kids, "Beef Pops" aren't just a tasty treat; They're a nutritious source of carcinogenic trans-fatty acids. So tell your parents to pick up a case of "Beef Pops" today. You'll find them in the genetically modified dessert section of your favorite supermarket.

And now for the academic portion of our class. You'll need to take notes, so here's a half-sheet of paper for each of you, generously donated by the Healthy Forests Paper, Pulp and Sawdust Company, along with a two-inch pocket pencil provided by our friends at the Greenhouse Gas Golf and Country Club. By the way, the folks there asked me to remind you that they'll pay up to 9 cents for any golf ball recovered from the nearby Rattlesnake Gulch Toxic Waste Dump (provided it's in good condition and has been thoroughly cleaned) It's a great way for kids to earn extra cash to feed their families, and the retired CEO's knockin' divots around the old golf links are more than happy to help out...

Just one more thing before we get started. If you need to use the bathroom, remember that the coin-operated stalls only take quarters, and due to the increased cost of the Scamway cleaning products provided by our principal, Mr. Gowger, the price is now $2.00.

Now, let's begin, shall we? Today's lesson is "Our New and Improved Constitution." Please remove your textbooks from the back of the pew in front of you and open them up to Chapter Seven, page 213. Ashley, would you be so kind as to read us the first paragraph?

Ashley (reads): Certainly, Mr. Ladrone. "According to the Neo-constitution, any heterosexual Caucasian male thirty-five years of age or older may run for president, provided he meets the $100,000,000 net worth requirement and is one of the following: a natural-born citizen of the United States; an upper management employee of any multinational corporation operating out of the Cayman Islands; or an Austrian-born cyborg from the future.

Mr. Ladrone: Thank you, Ashley. Does anyone have any questions about this provision?

DeAndre (raising his hand): I have a question, Mr. Ladrone. My dad was telling me that when he was a kid, African-Americans, Hispanics and even women could run for president. Is that true?

Mr. Ladrone: That's a fair question, DeAndre. Have you ever heard of any presidents who were African-American, Hispanic or female?

DeAndre: Not really.

Mr. Ladrone: Looks like you answered your own question, DeAndre. Anyway, your dad was probably referring to what we now call the "Paleo-constitution," the one that got so full of dangerous ideas we finally had to scrap the thing. Back in those days, the original intentions of Our Founding Fathers were constantly being undermined and thwarted by a handful of liberal atheists. They tried to use the amendment process to weaken and destroy the Constitution, all because they hated our freedom.

Strom: You mean like the 15th and the 19th Amendments? The ones that gave African-Americans and women the right to vote?

Mr. Ladrone: That's right, Strom. But the most pernicious amendments of all were those tacked on to the Paleo-constitution by a gang of radical secularists - the so-called "Bill of Rights." As a result, for centuries afterward the American people were made to groan under the yoke of those vile affronts to God's Law. Only recently, following many weeks of prophesies, divine revelations and unfathomable glossolalia, the Congress at last summoned the wisdom necessary to separate the wheat from the chaff. Raising up the Sacred Second Amendment to the Glory of God, that righteous body of men cast the rest of the amendments back into the Pit of Hell from whence they came. And the Lord called them from that day forward the "Nine Abominations."

For it is written that when those Nine Abominations afflicted the People, Beelzebub reigned Supreme in America. God-fearing Christians were kept from spreading God's Word in schools, hospitals, even in courtrooms! Homeland Security Agents were sometimes prevented from using infrared cameras, parabolic microphones and digital wiretaps to keep tabs on union organizers, peace demonstrators, vegetarians or other terrorists, who were thus given free rein to hatch dangerous plots in their homes and on the internets! Worst of all, even when evildoers were apprehended, they couldn't be sentenced to lifetime detention until after they'd been given time-consuming and expensive jury trials, no matter how obviously guilty they were!

Anyway, all that's behind us now. These days, we Americans have all the freedom we need, including the freedom to enjoy delicious Gristle-Frost "Beef Pops" any time of day or night. And I don't mind telling you, that's one freedom my seventy-nine-year-old mother has no intention of giving up any time soon! She just landed a job as a contamination containment specialist down at the Pristine Hills Paraquat Refinery, working the graveyard shift. For every six hours she's on the clock, she gets a 90-second nutrition break, and that gives her plenty of time to wolf down a couple of reenergizing Beef Pops! Fact is, nothing builds up an old person's appetite like strapping on a polypropylene environment suit and spraying hundreds of gallons of flame-retardant chemical foam down onto an overheated dioxin incinerator. That's why Mom depends on "Beef Pops" 100% all beef frozen treats to keep up her stamina. They provide her with all the bovine growth hormone she needs to stay healthy, plus just the right amount of anabolic steroids to make sure she doesn't run outta gas near the end of her 18 hour shift...


Mark W. Bradley is a history teacher and political satirist in Sacramento, California. He can be contacted at

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