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MinnPost 10 at 10: Eric Black on the origins, and myths, at the heart of America’s political system

MinnPost illustration by Jaime Anderson

To mark MinnPost’s 10th anniversary, our writers and editors have dug into the archives to highlight stories that have stuck with them over the years, a series we’re calling MinnPost 10 at 10.

Today, we hear from longtime staffer Eric Black about his 2012 series “Imperfect Union,” which focused on explaining — and demystified — the U.S. Constitution:

If “Americanism” is a sort of religion, then the Constitution is surely its bible. Its origins are fabled and strange, its details sometimes obscure, but it is assumed to hold answers to our biggest national questions if only we can find the wisdom to understand what it tells us. If we have a president who received neither a majority nor even a plurality of the vote, is it because the divinely inspired framers wanted it that way?

Not really. Not even slightly. Working in Philadelphia in 1786-87, when there were no national parties, no national media, no candidates jetting around campaigning, when the residents of one state knew little of the leaders of other states, when the small states were very nervous about joining a stronger union that would be dominated by the larger (etc., etc.) the framers jury-rigged the Electoral College system to solve some problems but created others that they couldn’t foresee. The system never really functioned the way they imagined it would, and now we have what we have — and no practical, effective means of changing it.

I could say more about how we got from what they “intended” to where we are, but actually I already got to say those things, thanks to my wonderful MinnPost gig and the “Imperfect Union” series, which attempted to connect what our system has become to its origins in Philadelphia in the hot summer of 1787.

Thanks to the founders and leaders of MinnPost during its first decade, I had the honor and privilege of sharing with MinnPost readers some of my (dare one say?) insights on those and many other issues. Thank you, founders and leaders and colleagues and members and donors and above all readers of MinPost, without whom all my spouting off would be pretty pointless.

MinnPost 10 at 10

Eric Black has written for MinnPost since 2008, covering national politics and government. A former reporter for the Star Tribune, he’s won numerous local and national journalism awards, including a national Sigma Delta Chi Award in 2017 from the Society of Professional Journalists for online column writing.

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