How do you make the U.S. Constitution’s Article I interesting enough for Americans to pay attention to it? Let me tell you. It’s a challenge! This week, I will teach 7th and 8th graders an overview of the Constitution. A few hours later, I teach Article I to homeschooled high schoolers. The next night, I will conduct a workshop for adults on Our Founding American Documents. Also, I will write a couple of articles for you, my social media and website participants.
What citizens, ages 12-92, want to know is, what does this have to do with me? Why should I care? My job is to capture their attention and make the complex simple.
The first thing I do with the ‘tweens is to check out the textbook’s approach. What value-added presentation can I make? The 12-13 yr old set is not mature enough for lectures, so I have to do a type of one-act play to emphasize age-appropriate points, like “The Constitution is the law of the land. It tells the government what it can/cannot do.” I tell them it’s like We the People are the school’s Principal, and our government is like the students. We the People tell the government what to do (through our votes, emails, and calls) and use the Constitution as our rule book.
The teens don’t say much, so you don’t really know if they are “getting it” until you see the homework. We will go through the 18 expenditures that Article I allows Congress and discover what items are NOT in there to spend away our tax money. That gets their attention, especially if they have a job with a pay stub.
On the other hand, adults become truly engaged as they see the Founding Fathers’ courage of conviction move into action. I enjoy seeing their excitement!
Now, for my website and social media participants, I have a question:
Article I section 8 starts by saying: “The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States…”
Check this out: Article 1 section 8 closes with this sentence: “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”
What This Means to You
Here’s the question: On what can’t Congress spend money?
To what does the “foregoing powers” refer?
What does “necessary” mean?
What does “proper” mean?
What can’t Congress spend money on that they don’t deem “necessary and proper”?
It’s good for us to parse these words and think them through. It makes all the difference as we count down to the elec-tion. It also makes Article I interesting again. 😉
This is Common Sense Civics and Citizenship.🇺🇸
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