Me the People: One Man's Selfless Quest to Rewrite the Constitution of the United States of America
by Kevin Bleyer
Summary: The United States Constitution promised a More Perfect Union. It’s a shame no one bothered to write a more perfect Constitution—one that didn’t trigger more than two centuries of arguments about what the darn thing actually says.
Perfection is at hand. A new, improved Constitution is here. And you are holding it.
But first, some historical context: In the eighteenth century, a lawyer named James Madison gathered his friends in Philadelphia and, over four long months, wrote four short pages: the Constitution of the United States of America. Not bad.
In the nineteenth century, a president named Abraham Lincoln freed an entire people from the flaws in that Constitution by signing the Emancipation Proclamation. Pretty impressive.
And in the twentieth century, a doctor at the Bethesda Naval Hospital delivered a baby—but not just any baby. Because in the twenty-first century, that baby would become a man, that man would become a patriot, and that patriot would rescue a country . . . by single-handedly rewriting that Constitution.
Why? We think of our Constitution as the painstakingly designed blueprint drawn up by, in Thomas Jefferson’s words, an “assembly of demigods” who laid the foundation for the sturdiest republic ever created. The truth is, it was no blueprint at all but an Etch A Sketch, a haphazard series of blunders, shaken clean and redrawn countless times during a summer of petty debates, drunken ramblings, and desperate compromise—as much the product of a confederacy of dunces as an assembly of demigods.
No wonder George Washington wished it “had been made more perfect.” No wonder Benjamin Franklin stomached it only “with all its faults.” The Constitution they wrote is a hot mess. For starters, it doesn’t mention slavery, or democracy, or even Facebook; it plays favorites among the states; it has typos, smudges, and misspellings; and its Preamble, its most famous passage, was written by a man with a peg leg. Which, if you think about it, gives our Constitution hardly a leg to stand on.
Pause for laughter.
Now stop laughing. Because you hold in your hands no mere book, but the most important document of our time. Its creator, Kevin Bleyer, paid every price, bore every burden, and saved every receipt in his quest to assure the salvation of our nation’s founding charter. He flew to Greece, the birthplace of democracy. He bused to Philly, the home of independence. He went toe-to-toe (face-to-face) with Scalia. He added nightly confabs with James Madison to his daily consultations with Jon Stewart. He tracked down not one but two John Hancocks—to make his version twice as official. He even read the Constitution of the United States.
So prepare yourselves, fellow patriots, for the most significant literary event of the twenty-first, twentieth, nineteenth, and latter part of the eighteenth centuries. Me the People won’t just form a More Perfect Union. It will save America.
I won this book via Goodreads First Reads giveaway program.
When I first saw this book listed on Goodreads, I was curious. After all, most Americans love the Constitution (well the ones who know what it says, anyway). It’s the oldest constitution around, which is something to be proud of. So how can there be room for improvement?
What I didn’t know until receiving this in the mail was that Bleyer is a writer for The Daily Show. With that being said, this book was fun, funny, educational, and entertaining, so it does not disappoint. It wasn’t really scholarly or critical (which is the fun part). Bleyer didn’t necessarily rewrite the Constitution. He just kind of used the foundation and remodeled it, like you would with a house. When you’re done, it’s still the same house, only better. He didn’t knock it down and build a new one. I suppose Rewrite should be changed to Edit in the title.
I loved the backstory about the Founding Fathers and their quest to write our Constitution. I loved the insight into their characters and motives (and drinking habits). Instead of being a boring swipe with red ink on the document, this book was interesting and written in a way that makes history fun. My advice to other readers is NOT to skip parts. Because you’ll be off telling your buddy some story about George Washington being a British spy without realizing in the next paragraph, Bleyer sets the record straight. He introduces outrageous rumors only to knock them down after we’re thoroughly shocked and entertained by them. How clever. So if anyone you know comes at your with hysterical stories about the Founding Fathers, you can deduce quickly that they are skimmers and not readers. =)
This book satisfied my curiosity and was enjoyable and I’d certainly recommend it to others looking for a fun, but still thought provoking book. However, I would not recommend this to scholarly people looking for a truly deep analysis of what may be wrong with the Constitution. Because of this, my rating was reduced to a 3. It’s fun, sure, and it’s even educational. But I can’t take it seriously and the nerd in me wanted a book that was a bit more serious. If there are indeed problems, it’s a serious matter to both address and fix them. Some of Bleyer’s changes were serious, others… not so much.
If you are curious about what one man, especially a humorous one, might do to improve our Constitution, definitely read this book. You’ll enjoy this. Well, unless you love Rhode Island or Nebraska. In that case, you may be offended!
Overall, this book is a fun way to think about our system of government and learn a little something about the people that created it.