Numbers don't lie: Copies of the Constitution are selling at a record pace
Civic education has disappeared? Print is no longer the best way to consume important information? Try persuading nearly a million people who have purchased copies of the Constitution in the past four years — at a record-setting pace.
Donald Trump's presidency, and the persistent challenges to democratic norms and the separation of federal powers it has spawned, sure seem to be the reason.
"There have been some other smaller spikes in Constitution sales in recent history — such as 2010, following the 2009 founding of the Tea Party," said Kristen McLean, a publishing industry analyst for the market research and retail sales tracking firm NPD Group Inc. "That spike is dwarfed by what we have been seeing since these last few years. Regardless of your political affiliation, there is no doubt that our current political climate has done wonders for constitutional engagement."
Sales of the Constitution hit a record 275,000 copies in 2016, the year Trump won the White House, and have increased 60 percent while he's been in office, NPD estimates. Sales have averaged 19,800 copies a month since January 2017, as compared with 7,500 monthly during Barack Obama's first term and 5,600 in George W. Bush's second term.
The firms says print sales spiked in the weeks after Trump accepted the Republican nomination, after his election, after the inauguration, after the protests in Charlottesville, Va., during Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation hearings and after Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the House was opening an impeachment inquiry.
The House has rewarded its special "fix Congress committee" for its wholly bipartisan and relatively productive first year by extending its life for another year, giving the panel time to tackle some of the more contentious problems on its watch list.
With polarization, dysfunction and gridlock now Capitol Hill's three defining characteristics, the panel was created in January to set the stage for different behaviors to germinate — by proposing how the House could become a more efficient, transparent and up-to-date place for members to pass bills and conduct oversight, and for staffers to help them.
The idea is that it's essential for Congress to get back some of the capacity, stature and muscle ceded in recent decades to the president and the courts — and thereby recalibrate the balance of powers at the heart of a thriving federal republic.
A federal appeals court has blocked a lower court ruling that had opened the door to online voter registration in Texas.
The decision is a setback for advocates of easing access to the ballot box. They contend the nation's second-most-populous (and increasingly purple) state is being improperly strict in its interpretation of a federal law requiring states to give residents an opportunity to register when they apply for or renew driver's licenses.
But the ruling is not necessarily the final word on easing voter registration in Texas.