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A Conversation Between James Madison and Thomas Jefferson

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Hey, Tom, did you get my e-mail about that Boehner fellow from Ohio, which wasn't even one of the 13 original states when we created the first Republic of the modern world in 1787, and what he and those crazy Republicans are doing to the Constitution that we labored so hard and long over?

Yes, my esteemed fellow Founding Father, if I may be so immodest as to use the term that history has kindly bestowed on us. Your communication of the 8th has been this day received, thanks to the kind assistance of my 8-year-old great-great-great-great-great-great grandson. Naturally, it was not possible for me to remain ignorant of, or indifferent to, the lamentable transactions of the many Congresses since we pledged our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor to throw off the oppressive yoke of King George. But having considered your missive attentively, I regret to say I find in it nothing of the sincerity and delicacy which you profess to value.

Oh come off it, Tom. This is the 21st century, and I'm on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn, and you should be too. Otherwise, how to you expect to stay connected to Washington and Adams and that libertine Ben Franklin, or the fiery patriot Patrick Henry or that ambitious charlatan Alexander Hamilton? I suppose you don't even have a BlackBerry?

You speak of blackberry and other exotic things. What is this strange fruit that you so ardently desire me to taste?

Oh, never mind, Tom. Stick to your quill pen and parchment and your letters that take a week to arrive. The point I'm trying to make is that the present Congress, the 112th since we first met in Philadelphia 223 years ago, has had the temerity to read, and perhaps even revise, the sacred words by which we govern ourselves. Why, that impudent pup Goodlatte, from our own beloved Virginia, whose idea it was to have members read the Constitution aloud on the floor of the House for the first time ever, admitted that they censored part of it.

You are all too well aware, I am sure, that I am adamantly opposed to any kind of censorship. But you speak, dear sir, as though we were omniscient. As I wrote to you from Paris in 1789 when I represented our new government in that esteemed country so gallantly allied with us in our Revolution, no society can make a perpetual Constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation, and not to the dead.

OK, Tom, I grant that we intended the Constitution to be a living document to serve the needs of every succeeding generation, despite what the so-called originalists like the present Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia hold. But I find it discouraging and alarming, to say the least, that the Republicans who have just returned to power, thanks to the Tea Party movement, can so brazenly ignore the painful reality that our Nation's founding document condoned the odious practice of slavery.

You speak, esteemed friend, of the practice of indentured servitude, which I admit I benefited from, and of our Massachusetts friends who abhorred it, and who aroused armed resistance to our British overlords through the patriotic Tea Party uprising in Boston Harbor, but surely it long ago served that noble purpose and is no longer of concern?

No, no, Tom, I'm referring to the present group of citizen activists who want to impose limitations on Congress's power over the various states. You are aware, no doubt, of the former governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, who exhorts her followers to take up arms against those who oppose her, or the fearsome Congresswoman from Minnesota, Michelle Bachmann, who questions whether President Obama is a patriotic citizen.

Alaska? Minnesota? Of what strange lands do you speak? And Sarah and Michelle? These persons obviously are of the fairer sex; how can they be public officials?

Tom, you're totally out of it. Alaska and Minnesota are states, just like Ohio and California and all the others, 50 in sum now. And there are many women who are governors and senators and members of Congress and Supreme Court justices and even Secretaries of State, as you once were.

I beg your forgiveness, my esteemed friend. I have been too much concerned with protecting my property at Monticello from the encroachments of would-be profiteers. Still, as you yourself declared in The Federalist , No. 10, "Complaints are everywhere heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens... that the public good is disregarded in the conflict of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.

Well said, old compatriot. May I remind you that I also said in the document to which you refer, "There are two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests."

Having just consulted the wisdom of Sarah Palin, thanks to my aforementioned grandson's proficiency with the modern means of mass communication, I have only to say: You betcha.

P.S. Should I get BlackBerry Verizon or AT&T?

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