Eric Lane and Michael Oreskes certainly meant for “We” to be a piece to stir up some long-lost patriotism in their American readers. The overarching point of the essay – and one that the authors refer to many times throughout their writing – is that somewhere between the framing of the Constitution and the evolution of our modern society, the vast majority of American citizens have lost touch with what the Constitution means and what it stands for and that these citizens become frustrated with how our government functions because they fail to realize that it is functioning as intended by the Constitution’s framers.
Several paragraphs into the piece, Lane and Oreskes make a statement which I feel summarizes the entire essay quite succinctly: “We Americans love the framers. We consume books about them and revere their words. But we have lost our connection to what they actually invented and how that invention over time created in us what we have come to call a Constitutional Conscience.” To support this point, the authors offer some data from a 1998 Department of Education study which found that 75 percent of high school seniors were “not proficient in civics” and that 33 percent of the students sampled did not even have a basic understanding of how the government operates. Only 9 percent of students included were able to think of two reasons for citizens to participate in the democratic process.
The authors offer further inferences by pointing out that “instead of reinvigorating our representative government, current generations are disparaging it. We are not fighting for it. Instead, people are frustrated with the day-to-day workings of government and relentlessly search for some ‘fix’ for the system.” According to Lane and Oreskes, if only people understood how revolutionary the drafting of the Constitution was at the time it was written and how difficult it was to put into action and to defend, they would feel