In an interview with TPM, Let Freedom Ring president Colin Hanna said that “a lot of people who revere the Constitution aren’t themselves intimately familiar with its details,” but the hope is that these events will help Americans “become even more enamored of that document.”The parties will be held on September 18 (at times determined by the individual organizers), and will last less than an hour, according to the site. At each event, different attendees will be assigned to read aloud different parts of the Constitution, but it will be read straight through — and will include sections that have been canceled out by subsequent amendments. “That’s part of the beauty of the Constitution,” Hanna told TPM. Those parts are also “part of its history.”
Anyone can sign up to host a party, and though so far there are only about 50 scheduled parties, according to Hanna, the “goal is to have hundreds, maybe even a thousand.”
Hanna told TPM that he got the idea when talking to some national Tea Party leaders, though his group has no actual affiliation with the Tea Party itself. They discussed “ordinary citizens reclaiming America’s founding principles,” and thought a “local collective social exercise” would encourage people to actually read the Constitution “in full in a single session.”
“There has been a wave of new interest in the Constitution, largely engendered by the tea party movement,” Hanna said.
“There’s a sense that America is on the wrong track. That we are headed down a path that’s very different from anything we’ve experienced before,” he continued, and “if you think that you’ve headed down the wrong track it makes sense to reexamine where you came from.”
Hanna also said he expects that 90% to 95% of the people who attend will not have read the Constitution before.
“Let Freedom Ring” describes its missions statement as promoting “constitutional government,” “economic freedom,” and “traditional values.” Hanna himself has been a presence at CPAC, and yesterday wrote that the Obama Administration “has unilaterally declared de facto amnesty for certain illegal aliens,” as a part of a joint letter co-signed by Let Freedom Ring and 17 other conservative groups in response to an immigration policy memo by Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees.
The reading events are co-organized by “Constituting America”, which says its goal is “to reach, educate and inform America’s youth and her citizens about the importance of the U.S. Constitution and the foundation it sets forth regarding our freedoms and rights.” Americans For Prosperity and Young Americans for Freedom are also involved in the project, though Hanna said they are mostly there for “cross promotion” purposes.
Currently, the only party listing in New York City (home of TPMHQ) is at a bar (Social in Hell’s Kitchen), but Hanna laughed off questions about rowdy attendees. He said he hadn’t known about the bar, but “that’s fine with me!” The goal is for the parties to be “pretty loose and pretty open,” he said, though he added he hopes there will also be readings at barbecues, health food stores, and city parks.
Hanna would not say what his favorite amendment is. “Nice try,” he said.