The US Structure and the rights that it enshrines come up so much in case you take heed to politicians, activists, protesters, or learn the information in any capability. The doc is a outstanding political experiment that has guided the US since its founding, one which has additionally been up to date over time as new interpretations or eventualities come up that its authors by no means foresaw.
Final yr, The Washington Submit launched a brand new podcast from reporter Lillian Cunningham referred to as Constitutional, which explores the founding of the Structure and its storied historical past. Cunningham is also the author behind Presidential, a podcast that examined every of the 44 US presidents within the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.
A podcast concerning the historical past of the Structure could possibly be a boring topic for listeners, however Cunningham’s mission is something however: it’s a fascinating and engaging look into the historical past behind the doc. It’s a distinct view of the individuals who challenged the regulation and compelled large adjustments in the way it was interpreted and the individuals who pushed for adjustments on every thing from permitting ladies the best to vote to prohibiting the sale of alcohol. The result’s a pay attention that’s engrossing and informative, and it places a extra human spin on the doc that governs our lives within the US.
Cunningham says that Constitutional got here out of Presidential. “I believed Presidential could be an remoted, standalone mission” she explains. “I didn’t actually have a background in audio or podcasting, and I simply thought Presidential could be this actually nice useful resource particularly throughout an election yr for folks to grasp the historical past of every American president.” However she notes that over the course of that first podcast, she fell in love with the format. “I fell in love with this concept of telling American historical past tales with a watch towards serving to folks at present perceive how the world round them displays and is formed by all of those figures and tales of the previous.”
When that podcast was over, she acquired plenty of messages from listeners asking what was subsequent, and he or she got here up with a listing of concepts for a follow-up. “An exploration of the Structure was one which saved arising as a suggestion from listeners,” Cunningham says. She favored the thought of exploring one other department of presidency and acknowledged that folks could be desirous about studying extra concerning the Structure and numerous amendments in at present’s political local weather.
What makes Constitutional such a compelling pay attention is Cunningham’s give attention to the folks behind the doc. “What actually ended up drawing me in have been the folks and all of those very human tales,” she says. The third episode of the sequence “Ancestry,” appears on the story of Chief Standing Bear and the way a case towards the US established that Native People have been thought of human beings beneath the Structure. In one other, “Honest Punishment,” she appears on the historical past of Parchman Farm and the racial undertones that helped outline what constitutes honest punishment for against the law. In “Prohibition,” she tells the story of the 18th and 21st Amendments by way of the eyes of a smuggler working within the US Capitol. “I used to be a bit nervous that it might really feel a bit dry or tutorial or stuffed with authorized jargon,” she says, “so I made an actual effort to ask myself what are the precise tales right here?”
She explains that she realized concerning the energy of the power of persona, the braveness and the wills of individuals behind every of the rights that the Structure grants.
Whereas it spun off of Presidential, Constitutional doesn’t play out in the identical format, the place she makes use of one episode to cowl the story of 1 a part of the Structure, or one modification. “I made a decision not to try this as a result of I ended up pondering that it was a little bit too constrained,” Cunningham says. “In some instances, it made sense to inform the story of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments collectively as one highly effective episode about race and Reconstruction, quite than separate them into three.”
Cunningham says that she plans to begin work on one other sequence quickly, however she hasn’t mentioned what she’ll give attention to subsequent. She says that she realized throughout the Constitutional podcast that she had primarily set herself as much as cowl Congress, however she doesn’t fairly know what her subsequent mission might be. “Finally, I need to inform tales which are probably the most fascinating, significant, and fascinating ones, and I don’t need to power myself to do one thing simply to finish a set.”