Principles of American Democracy

Daddy, daddy, What’s an Amendment?

Well son, sometimes when grown-ups lay down the law, they don’t get it all right. You’ve seen a boat sailing on a lake right?

Yes, daddy.

Well, the boat might be heading from one side to the other, but it may have to steer a little on the way to make sure it gets where it’s headed.

Oh like when the wind changes, it has to change sail position?

Not exactly, son. I’m not saying that the prevailing environment changes, but sometimes it does. It’s also very hard to set a course accurately if it’s a big lake. You have to make little adjustments along the way.

But what about if the boat had a GPS and an autopilot?

Heh, heh, little Jonny – you always have an answer for everything. Well I guess the autopilot is like the Constitution. It knows things are going to change, and it has a way of changing as they do.

So what’s an amendment, daddy?

Well Jonny, it’s a change to the Constitution, or an addition to the Constitution.

Can it be a removal of a prior amendment?

No son, it just gets longer. Well, I take that back now I think about it. The 18th Amendment in 1919 prohibited booze, and then when everyone was thirsty, they made the 21st Amendment to allow it again. Though they managed without until 1933.


By Fred Morse

I moved from Wales to the United States in 2005 and have been through the US immigration process and have learned all about citizenship and nationalization on the way. I currently live in Texas with my wife and two dogs

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