By Bill Mattox, JMI Resident Fellow
Everywhere you turn these days, Americans appear to be taking a renewed interest in the founding of our country and in the guiding principles included in the U.S. Constitution. From new civics classes to grass-roots tea parties to TV shows about Constitutional principles, Founding Fathers Fever is definitely sweeping America.Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that a profound economic crisis – and a move to dramatically increase the size and scope of the federal government in response – has sparked an interest in our nation’s founding.My colleague Bob Sanchez recently shared with me a copy of the October 8, 1934 edition of Leon High Life, the student newspaper for Tallahassee’s oldest public high school. That edition’s lead story described how Leon High had celebrated Constitution Week in late September with not one, but two guest speakers furnished by the local Kiwanis Club. Another front page story from that same 1934 edition described how a group of Leon High seniors were drawing up a “class constitution” complete with a Preamble that began: We the members of the Senior class of Leon High School, in order to govern ourselves more profitably, and to promote cooperation between the students and the faculty, and to better prepare ourselves for the outside world, both by helping us to obtain more knowledge and by the practice of constructive government, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Senior Class of Leon High School.Taken together, these two stories from a Leon High Life issued 75 years ago illustrate that “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Then, as now, tough economic times – and the emergence of forces eager to centralize power in Washington – gave rise to a renewed interest in all things Constitutional. Let’s hope that today’s outbreak of Founding Fathers Fever ultimately leads to constructive ends. For the sake of those who will be reading our stories 75 years from now, we all need to renew our commitment to government of the people, by the people, and for the people.