Under Construction: Seeking a more perfect union for us all — and a stronger website platform for the labor of love known as CapitolBeatOK
Oklahoma City, September 2021 – As you see this, friends and readers, Constitution Day has neared, arrived or just passed.
On September 17, 1787, 39 men fashioning the greatest instrument for human governance yet devised ended their deliberations in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Benjamin Franklin, the religious skeptic who advocated prayer at a crucial moment of division during the Constitutional Convention promised an inquisitive lady as he left the last meeting that he and the other Framers had crafted “A Republic … if you can keep it.” In what must have seemed like lightning speed at the time, the document went into practical effect with New Hampshire’s passage on June 21, 1788. The new American gestation – like a pregnancy took nine months. (Nine months, Nine states.)
The new Constitution fashioned a stronger central federal government to replace the Articles of Confederation, under which early American governance was a fractious mess. But that new document was promptly amended to include an explicit Bill of Rights to push back against too much centralized power. And then, the scourge of human slavery – a common affliction in world history – was a central factor in the Great Divide between north and south. And so it goes. Of late, Constitution Day is also deemed Citizenship Day.
A fractious mess. Words that might be used to describe the present state of the Republic. Respect for the Constitution – considered a “great liberty document” by Frederick A. Douglass, the former slave and perhaps the best-known abolitionist in American history – is eroded amidst deepening divisions over matters great and not-so-great. A fractious mess. Words that might also be applied to the new condition of journalism as practiced within the boundaries of the Republic.
A fractious mess – not the words we would use to describe the 12 year history of CapitolBeatOK.com. Independent journalism in the public interest has been our goal from the start. And thus it remains. The U.S. Constitution has been amended and tweaked along the way, through both formal revisions and through changes or adaptations in process.
Being a human enterprise, the time has come for an upgrade in this website’s frameworks. Give us a few days and you’ll see the results. We retain diverse categories of subject matter. The primary focus remains, as from the start, the governments of Oklahoma – state and local. Increasingly over time, the CapitolBeatOK product has touched upon national matters, and even sprinkled in reports about what were deemed “foreign” lands, and American Indian Country, and reflections on the most fundamental of spiritual matters.
The new website framework and projected reporting/commentary will include matters of culture and the arts, and the emerging archive of this writer’s works.
The founder of CapitolBeatOK.com – that’s me – is old-school enough that he still employs quotes from Thomas Jefferson, to wit: “Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it.”He finds wisdom and a glimpse inside himself in the words of a man of the Left, James Baldwin, an essayist who defended himself from critics with these words: “I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” There’s that word, love.
As we do our part to report on and contend over means to build a better Republic and a better nation while remaining tethered to the Constitutional framework, be patient with this once-ink-stained-wretch whose eyes now work and strain as much with pixels as with print.
I spoke recently at a community event supporting a cause and organization I cherish (the Santa Fe Family Life Center). That night I shared anew the wisest words I have yet written: “The trouble with love, in heart or many, is that it requires vulnerability.”
God knows I love my country. And I love being a reporter and a commentator, a friend and a neighbor – a citizen of this great country. I love my family. I love to write. As for that “love those who hate you” part – I’m trying.
Stick with us on CapitolBeatOK.com and of course the community newspaper, The City Sentinel, where my reports and observations still have a home.