Local event celebrates Constitution DayWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
Almost 225 years ago, the likes of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington sat in a hot, stuffy room with closed doors and drafted the Constitution, the law of the land. This weekend, Toledoans are invited to sit indoors once more and learn about the same document at Owens Community College — albeit with air-conditioning.
To begin the weekend Sept. 17, Earl Taylor, president of the National Center for Constitutional Studies will deliver two speeches, while Sept. 18 is broken down into roundtable discussions organized largely by Robert Densic, founder of Back to Basics. Participants can pick and choose what discussions to attend.
Densic had wanted to host a Constitution Day event for some time, he said, noting the importance of the document. “If we don’t have a constitution, then anything is up for grabs. And personally I don’t want to live in a place like that,” he said. When he heard Owens was hosting a Constitution Day event with Taylor speaking, Densic asked to add his program as a second-day of breakdown and analysis of the Constitution. Densic also plans to host the event again next year.
Ron McMaster, chairman of the Owens Board of Trustees, previously saw Taylor speak as part of “The Making of America” series. “He found it to be such a useful learning experience, he thought the college should host. We looked into it and we were fortunate to get the first Saturday after Constitution Day,” said Carl Dettmer, director of program development at Owens. Taylor will begin the program at 8:30 a.m. with “Developing America’s Great Success Formula,” which focuses on the history behind the drafting of the Constitution. After a lunch break (Owens provides lunches both days) at noon, Taylor will resume at 12:45 with ““The Perfect Plan of Liberty,” which discusses “the potential connections between the constitution and modern problems and issues,” Dettmer said. Owens is not involved with content either day, he also noted.
He added that about 50 people have registered and invitations to public officials have been sent out. Although he said onsite registrants would be accepted, Dettmer encouraged prior registration.
The second day starts at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 18, beginning with a “Lunch and Learn” session where different speakers will talk about a topic of their choosing. Gary Rathbun, a financial planner, plans to talk about private property rights during his 15 minutes.
“I think they are the absolute and basis of our Constitution and what America is about is having private property and having that respected by the government,” Rathbun said.
Densic asked Rathbun to speak after running into him at several events. Linda Bowyer, who Rathbun hosts a show with on News Talk 1370 WSPD, also encouraged him. When breakout sessions begin after lunch, Bowyer and Rathbun will also present the “History of Taxation.”
“Once again that ties in to your private property and having right to your private property, which income is a part of,” Rathbun said.
Lee Strang, a professor of law at the University of Toledo College of Law, will also speak on Sunday. He praised the variety of topics. “Bob is such a master of organizing this event, it’s a smorgasbord of topics,” Strang said, adding he looks forward to speaking to different people during the day.
“It gives me a chance to kind of talk to people about what they don’t know so it gives me an idea of what we need to do as educators,” he stressed.
Strang is participating in the discussions “Hot Button: Abortion” and “Religion and Morality,” two controversial topics. However, Densic said he didn’t edge away from choosing these divisive topics.
“We’re not gonna shy away from these things. In fact, we’re going to do a panel in the future called ‘the third rail.’ In politics, they always say you don’t want to touch ‘the third rail,’” Densic said.
Densic also encouraged members of all political parties to attend Constitution Day. “This is our first year and we’re not a revolution, we’re about education,” he reiterated.
“This is an American thing, this isn’t a Tea Party, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian thing,” Rathbun also said.
Still, The Constitution continues to play a role in politics and has been heavily mentioned at recent Republican debates, largely by members of the Tea Party. However, Rathbun noted the Tea Party is not a political party, but a “statement of the adherence to small government and getting back to the Constitution.” He added, “I’ve been to Tea Party meetings that are loaded with Democrats.”
In response to debate that the Constitution was written solely by deceased white men, Densic said, “It’s not about the people who wrote those things, it’s about the principles involved. We are not talking about politics, we are not talking about people, we are talking about principles.”
Strang agreed, “It may have been written by people, but the document has its own life.”
Many constitution-supporters were also angered by a July Time magazine cover story, showing a deteriorating Constitution and type that read, “Does It Still Matter?”
“The only reason they could print that is because of the Constitution,” Rathbun said, adding, “That would be like Toledo Free Press coming out against paper.”
Panelist Brian Wilson, program director and afternoon host at 1370 WSPD, said, “As the 2012 election draws closer and closer, the Constitution and its contents become more and more important.”
“If I was so concerned about winning and I could degrade the rules to win, I’d probably do that,” he added.
Wilson will end the day with “The Famous Constitutional Quote Game,” where he will offer “insignificant prizes, but bragging rights to stroke their (participants’) egos.”
Registration is $25 per day with costs going back to Owens to cover lunches and equipment usage. The event will be held at Audio/Visual Classroom Center Rooms 125-128 at the Toledo campus. To register, call (567) 661-7357 or 1-800-GO-OWENS, Ext. 7357. Toledo Free Press is a sponsor and editor in chief Michael S. Miller is a panelist. The event at Owens is not directly related to http://www.constitutionday.com.