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Forum, Aug. 5: ‘More perfect’ doesn’t mean more moral


Sunday, August 04, 2019
‘More perfect’ doesn’t mean more moral

Concerned about authoritarian tendencies in America, John Mudge wrote, “Is this the ‘more perfect union’ the Founding Fathers dreamed of when they wrote the Constitution?” (“Similar to earlier atrocity stories,” July 25).

Well, no. No it isn’t. The “more perfect union” in the Constitution’s preamble has nothing to do with moral rectitude or ethical aspiration. The preamble’s “more perfect union” simply meant “more complete unification.”

At the time, the U.S. had been operating under the Articles of Confederation (1781-89), which created a weak central government with few powers and little enforcement. It was too much like a collection of individual sovereigns cooperating only when they chose to. Thus, the delegates came to Philadelphia to re-constitute the nation, to create a more unified entity — a “more perfect union.” (The word “perfect” used to have a meaning like “complete” or “final,” which is still found today in some legal writing.)

Alas, politicians (our last three presidents, at least) can’t resist twisting the usage to suggest it refers to moral improvement. So they often speechify in ignorance. OK, they’re politicians. But we’re not. Let’s not compound the ignorance in our individual public discourse.

ROBIN CARPENTER

Lebanon

Sen. Booker has a gun violence plan

As a freshman at Hanover High School in 2012, I was well accustomed to the active shooter drills that were conducted on a regular basis. When the Sandy Hook school shooting occurred that December, these drills felt even more urgent.

Much like fire drills, lockdowns were a routine part of the high school experience. Through both fire drills and active shooter drills, the school administration aimed to teach us how to keep from being harmed in the case of an emergency. Unlike fire drills, active shooter drills represented an effort to protect us from a danger whose root causes are institutional and fundamentally preventable.

While school administrators and teachers have taken steps to help children learn how best to protect themselves during a school shooting, the government has not implemented significant measures to ensure that a shooting such as the one at Sandy Hook does not repeat itself.

This summer, I am working with U.S. Sen. Cory Booker’s presidential campaign. As a resident of a low-income neighborhood in Newark, N.J., Booker has a strong personal connection to this issue of gun violence, which has compelled him to put forward the most ambitious plan on gun reform out of all the democratic candidates running for president.

Booker’s plan is comprehensive and well-reasoned; he often emphasizes that if you need a license to drive a car, you should need a license to buy a gun. This sensible outlook characterizes Booker’s plan, which would establish a process for applying for a gun license similar to that of applying for a driver’s license. Moreover, Booker has called for a ban on assault weapons and bump stocks, which have been used to perpetuate mass shootings such as the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, and has demanded renewed research on gun violence as a public health issue.

This plan reflects a commitment to ending gun violence in a way that is in keeping with the rights of law-abiding gun owners and thus provides a template for approaching a problem that has plagued our country for far too long.

TÉA LEVY

Hanover

Get real about Green New Deal

I am flattered to have been referred to in two recent letters, but I still disagree with the ways the Green New Dealers think they can achieve their ambitious goals.

Yes, I approve of electric cars and hybrids. However hybrids use gasoline. Fully electric cars are impractical for long trips and take about an hour to be charged. Electrifying all trains is out of the question. Planes will always require fossil fuel, as will other power-hungry systems.

The Greens advocate upgrading all existing buildings using energy efficient technology. But we have building more efficient houses, better heating systems, etc., for decades. But we seem to have reached a plateau in increasing the efficiency of most systems. We are using more fossil fuels, not less.

What to do?

Well, build more wind generators, solar panels and dams. Dams will produce only a trickle of power (pun intended) and where will we put the hundreds of windmills and thousands of square feet of panels to supply just the Upper Valley? And let’s get rid of all the cows. They belch tons of methane gas.

Now, I have been labeled “negative” and a “pessimist.” It’s a wonder I haven’t been called a Luddite. My opinion remains the same as before. Some folks are looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. I wonder if these glasses are bifocals. Let’s get real. The Green New Dealers are living in cyberspace with their feet firmly in the air, especially U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

BOB CATTABRIGA

West Lebanon

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