A Defense of Constitutionalism

I like most Americans play Fantasy Football. Now that I’m out of college, my buddies and I use fantasy as a way to keep in touch. It is a great tool to bring people living all over the country together.

In the League I serve as Commissioner (not to be confused with the other 3 leagues I’m in) we just had a huge crisis. One of the members, because of unforeseeable circumstances, can no longer play. Though he was sitting at 2-4, he tried really hard and he wasn’t just a roll-over-and-die player. He actually made you work to win the matchup. But now that he could no longer play, he was going to give the advantage to everyone who played him which would have made it unfair for the rest of the league.

The question became how to remedy the situation.  This devolved into a crisis in my league because we did not have a constitution.

For those unfamiliar with Fantasy Football, it is highly recommended that you have a constitution. A fantasy football constitution lays out the rules, defines the normal operating procedure for the league and provides a framework for dealing with extraordinary situations. In reality, Fantasy Football is hugely rooted in constitutionalism.

Now we didn’t have a constitution. Partially because we were lazy and didn’t think we would need one. Partially because we thought we would followthe Great Britain model and have an unwritten constitution and base all our actions on tradition. But there are no traditions for this situation.

As a result, as commissioner, it fell to me to act decisively under pressure with the grace expected of a Fantasy Football League Commissioner.  So I did what I thought to be the right thing at the time. (For the record, I stand by my actions.) I called another friend, who was unable to play because it would have made an odd number in the league, and asked him if he would want to take over the team in question. He happily replied in the affirmative. At which point, I kicked the old owner out of the league and allowed the new owner in.

This lead to a constitutional crisis in the league. Just like when King Edward abdicated the thrown, there was no real president for us to turn too in the league. It was unclear if I, as commissioner could kick people out of the league because of a change in circumstance. Some people agreed with my decision, others thought I should have asked him first and others argued that I needed to resign because I was a power hungry dictator- I would kick them out of the league too, but I think that would just make their case.

In addition to the removal of an owner, there had been grumblings by an owner who had a trade of his vetoed by me because it was blatantly unfair. After all, without a constitution there were no parameters for rejecting trades. I ruled an unfair trade always has the taint of collusion. He said it was not the commissioner’s job to determine if a trade is fair or not.  Where exactly did the truth lie?

These events sort of combined into a super storm- not unlike Sandy that might hit DC next week.

So I had to appoint a truth commission to investigate my actions. Fortunately, the truth commission ruled in my favor and compared me to Cincinnatus, the brave Roman Dictator who was compelled to save the Republic by temporarily suspending it.

In addition, I spent my limited free time this week doing the hard thing of writing a constitution for the league next year to avoid this happening again. After all, a problem avoid is a problem solved.

But that is the lesson. A constitution makes fantasy that much easier and enjoyable. Now apply this microcosm to the government. Could you imagine how disastrous our country would be without a constitution?

A constitution provides guidance and ensures that things have a direction.  A constitution promotes order. In many ways constitutions make life so much easier.

As a result, government needs to remain as close to the constitution it can. The next time someone dismisses the notion of the American Constitution or believes that it is a living, breathing document; simply ask if they would like to play fantasy football without a constitution? More than likely, they will choose to play with a constitution. It is that simple. Constitutionalism just makes sense.