I think to appreciate or even tolerate this post you have to accept at face value Will Harris’s assertion that Americans “live in a theory.” The theory is derived from the Constitution and includes such central organizing ideas as innovation, wholeness, inquiry, optimism, order, deliberation, and covenant to name a small and perhaps unrepresentative subset.

Generally speaking, a theory has the following components:

1. It organizes communication.
2. It organizes ideas.
3. It generates new ideas.
4. It displays the complexities of a problem.
5. It guides investigation.
6. It generates explanations and predictions.

This stuff is nothing new to students of Kuhn or to those who teach and study theory. My brief, amateur exegesis focuses on the first point about organizing communication. The specific type of communication presented below is what I would call “stylized public dialogue,” which I consider any writing, music, or art deliberately offered for public interest or consumption.

In an earlier politicolor post, Stepwinder considered a story by Kurt Vonnegut that had a constitutional theme/idea. Hobbes21 posted the results of his considerable research into popular songs with Federalist and anti-federalist themes.

I modestly build on the efforts of Step and Hobbes21 by offering two poems with constitutional themes. Rather than attempting to analyze the poems myself, I simply offer them to you for possible reflection. Maybe you will want to post a poem with an organizing idea or theme of American constitutional theory. -Mutter-

(1) OPTIMISM as reflected in Whitman’s

“Song of the Open Road”

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading me wherever I choose…

From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master total and absolute,
Listening to others, considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me

I inhale great draughts of space,
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.

I am larger, better than I thought,
I did not know I held such goodness….

(2) The FEDERALIST MIND in Ammons’


I look for the way
things will turn
out spiraling from a center,
the shape
things will take to come forth in

so that the birch tree white
touched black at branches
will stand out
totally its apparent self:

I look for the forms
things want to come as

from what black wells of possibility,
how a thing will

not the shape on paper-though
that, too-but the
uninterfering means on paper:

not so much looking for the shape
as being available
to any shape that may be
summoning itself
through me
from the self not mine but ours.