Value of the U.S. Constitution

Typically I don’t read Slate.com, for a variety of reason, but a friend of mine brought a recent article of theirs to my attention. The article of course being where judge Richard A. Posner states he doesn’t see any value to spend “decades, years, months, weeks, day, hours, minutes, or seconds studying the Constitution.” His point comes as a sidenote at the end of the brief article, but he goes on to elaborate his reasoning, claiming “Eighteenth-century guys, however smart, could not foresee the culture, technology, etc., of the 21stcentury. Which means that the original Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the post–Civil War amendments (including the 14th), do not speak to today.”

This comes as shocking to many Americans, especially those that the constitution dear to their heart. The federalist spirit is still alive and well, the belief that for a properly functioning government we need a strict reading of the constitution. That’s where we get the modern term “constitutional conservative” people like to identify as. To clearly show the severity that some people take it to, it’s hard to forget former House Majority Leader Tom Delay’s statement that “God wrote the constitution.” These sentiments have been echoed constantly throughout our nation’s history, but conservatives have come to expect strong constitutional convictions ever since the Reagan era, to a near religious level. In fact in a speech in 1987 Reagan said about the constitution “It is a human covenant, yes, and beyond that, a covenant with the Supreme Being to whom our founding fathers did constantly appeal for assistance.”

Somehow the constitution of the United States has been elevated to the status of a religious document in the minds of many Americans. Obviously Richard Posner’s statement directly conflicts with this.

If Tom Delay really believes that God wrote the constitution, then by his rationale the constitution must be a perfect document (assuming he believes God is perfect). Which is absurd to believe, because the very fact that we have amendments is enough to admit that the constitution is not nearly perfect. And these were some very glaring mistakes too, causing changes in everything from the abolition of slavery, to changing congress meeting dates from December to January.

But the real question still stands at of how much validity the constitution has in these modern times. Theoretically the ability to add amendments should keep the constitution relevant in response to new events, however, it can be notoriously difficult to get a new amendment passed. And even so, there is the obvious problem that perhaps something passed may turn out to be wrong. The constitution was not crafted by God, which leaves room for an extreme error in human reasoning which could result in any number of inappropriate legislature.

Ultimately the constitution is political philosophy put into practice, and therefore the original document represents the consensus of political philosophy at the time. Or, at the least what could be agreed upon at the time. With this reasoning I would like to see more leeway to changes based upon the contemporary philosophical opinions. This sounds obscure, but I promise it has very real effects.

Perhaps the best example of this idea is the FDR’s proposal for a “Second Bill of Rights” to secure economic rights. Roosevelt proposed this idea in 1944 after his State of the Union address, likely as a response to the earlier depression that his administration was famous for confronting. A full video of the rights can be found here, but the Second Bill of Rights would include in his own words:

  • The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
  • The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
  • The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
  • The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
  • The right of every family to a decent home;
  • The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
  • The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
  • The right to a good education.

There would have to be some definite tweaks to this list, and a few updates to fit with modern times, but otherwise these seem like basic human rights which the constitution does not provide.

My point here is that FDR’s Second Bill of Rights was the culmination of events that happened throughout the Great Depression and this was his conclusion to prevent another such disaster. This is the type of liberty a congress should have to insure the freedom of all Americans and to effectively respond to new issues. However, with this sort of liberty there is always the chance of the power being abused. So to counteract this I’d propose that for every amendment and new legislation that congress outline their exact logic behind the changes, in a step-by-step geometrical fashion. This way we can have a government truly based on reason while encouraging the questioning of our own philosophical groundwork.

 

 

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42 thoughts on “Value of the U.S. Constitution

  1. I would suggest yet another amendment: that the rights of all future people (those not yet born) be protected and respected. The principle of euality should be extended across time. It should become illegal to put people on a disadvantage based on the time of their birth.

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    • Are you suggesting this as an argument against abortion, which obviously puts future persons at a disadvantage, or so that people are not put at a disadvantage by being born into extreme poverty? I suppose that amendment fits for both

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      • No, that was not what I had in mind. I was thinking about environmental issues. For example, by producing radioactive waste, by driving species into extinction, by destroying ecosystems, by using up resources, by causing global warming, etc. we are putting future people at a disadvantage, effectively exploiting them. There is a relationship of power between us and them. We can do things that have dire consequences for them and they have no way to do anything about it. If the purpose of a constitution is to regulate relationships of power and prevent power to grow to destructive levels, then this is a gap in our constitutions. Leaving it unregulated will have quite destructive consequences.

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        • Were you thinking of “Kucinich’s” HR 2977 Bill – The Space Preservation Act? (I want to believe.) … Regarding environmental preservation issues, don’t they get voted on regularly – so it becomes a matter of how much regulation / restriction should be placed on businesses and how much park land should be virginal, i.e., “the predatory phase” with reason.

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  2. Concerning “God wrote the Constitution”

    Religion is the traditional means that culture is passed on from one generation to the next. In modern times, with formal education, books, and now the internet, we have mechanisms to pass on our culture that do not directly rely on religious traditions, yet many of us still follow a religious tradition because of the richness it adds to our lives.

    Religion focuses the individual on that which is larger than himself: his family, his tribe or, in more modern contexts, his nation, and ultimately on the whole of creation. Thus, civic duty, service to the state, gets conflated with religious duty, service to all humankind.

    Everything handed down, tends to get wrapped into one package. Bedouin cultural traditions get embedded in certain forms of Islam. American flags get a prominent place in Christian churches.

    For a certain mind set, whatever was handed down was handed down by God. For fundamentalist Christians, the Bible is first and foremost, but for many, the US Constitution is a close second. “God wrote the Constitution” might seem silly, but it expresses a point of view that is held by many. They might not understand either the Bible or the Constitution, but they “believe” in both.

    Posner, on the other hand, seems to think that we could do much better. I don’t doubt that a better document could be written, but I strongly doubt that we could devise a political process that would result in something substantially better.

    The Constitution has served us for a couple of centuries. It was founded on compromise, and I suspect those who ultimately ratified would truly be surprised that it is still largely intact after all this time. I am for muddling through, much the way we have. In this, I am a conservative.

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  3. I like what jpfund said: The constitution was founded on compromise. There are said to be writings by Jefferson who suggested that the government, including that formed by the constitution, should be pulled down an replaced if it doesn’t serve the people. I am not concerned that someone said that “God wrote the constituion”. The blog suggests that this is something that has to be analyzed when evaluating the constitution. I will suggest that that interpretation is only one point of view and an inslightful analysis of the constitution must include an analysis of the constitution from all angles.
    The constitution offers one of the most moral ideas to provide a foundation for a government that has ever been presented. I doubt that many other countries have anything like it. In a way it’s a grand suggestion. I think that the arguments proposed here belittle its value; if the basis of your vision is that all people deserve fair treatment and you stick with that, all the outcomes (including the amendments) will be the best possible outcome with a diverse population. If there have been failures, it’s because people haven’t stayed with the basic idea of respect for individuals.
    The idea that we all have “inalienable rights” still does speak to today. It’s basic to humanity and how we deal with others. There are changes based on changes in our culture. But the best outcome is possible if we respect the “suggestion” that the constitution and bill of rights make: Don’t finesse morality so you can get what you want; respect everyone. Compromise to protect everyone as much as is possible. These documents are still vibrant

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    • Just wanted to specifically address: “I doubt that many other countries have anything like it.”

      Lots and lots and lots of countries have a Consitution like the United States’s, even more have a better one. The US Consitution is classist and racist in origin and prescribes an Oligarchy that had the goal (and was successful) to undo the social progress made during the early Revolutionary Era.

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  4. Methinks you are a good liberal, or in the least a great socialist wannabe, friend. While I consider myself a liberal conservative in most circles I read this and I suddenly felt my good ole republican roots kick in. We can certainly agree between us our mutual respect and good old fashioned patriotism for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I would even go so far as to agree with the interpretation of the current trend of thinking the Constitution is some sort of Divine Doctrine (not MY thinking, but whatever). But Roosevelt’s list of “rights” are just liberal huff-in-puff.

    The founding fathers at no time even suggested some sort of economic parity across the classes. These fellows were businessmen and the capitalists of their day and appreciated competition without government controls (the whole issue of the Rebellion in the first place). These guys set up a bill of rights to set down the fundamental political climate for all Americans to have the same start from which to make the choices in their lives. Their direction was NOT to guarantee a government that provides economic class equality but rather to guarantee those inalienable rights from which a person can choose their own way to live in America. No one in this country should be economically entitled to a damn thing. But here’s the problem…
    The strength of humanity is our diversity as a species. This carries into our society and political structure. Some people are rich and some poor. Why? Because some CHOOSE a road that leads them to riches, grasp at opportunities, expand education, etc. Some people choose (or are unable to make that choice) other roads, choose badly, or can’t manage to expand on their dreams for a variety of reasons. But that’s the nature of America… and humanity. You can go as far as you wish.. or as far as you can… or as far as you are able. I should not be ENTITLED to a home.. I should be entitled to achieve getting a home based on whatever is required to get one… using the playing field set forth by the Bill of Rights and whatever wit, education, training, stamina, assertiveness, etc. that I can choose to muster to fulfill my dream. Being in America doesn’t assure your dream… it allows you to pursue it.

    Yes, the amendments serve to tweak the Constitution to whatever the current mood of the country is at the time. It’s designed that way. Consider this… the Brits chose to leave the EU in that referendum out of emotional impulse; the public feeling the pressure of uncontrolled refugees and immigrants entering their society mostly. If that were an amendment being considered here in the States the process slows down that impulse by requiring Congress and at least two thirds of the state legislatures to debate and decide the issue. Yet, somehow,for as slow as our process is alleged to be, our country passed the Prohibition amendment pretty fast.. and the appeal to it.

    Forget Roosevelt’s list. I’d not rather to live in a country that dilutes dreams and choices with economic class benevolence.

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    • “I should be entitled to achieve getting a home based on whatever is required to get one… using the playing field set forth by the Bill of Rights and whatever wit, education, training, stamina, assertiveness, etc. that I can choose to muster to fulfill my dream.”

      It’s a nice principle in its ideal, but unfortunately, the playing field set forth by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the time that they were written created a playing field that is wildly unfair, and leaves some people (namely, white men such as yourself, and especially those born into the middle and upper class) at a huge advantage, and others at a huge disadvantage, regardless of their wit, stamina, and assertiveness (I left out education and training, because access to quality forms of those is also largely dependent on where and to whom you were born).

      So, unless you’re a white man who’s reaping the benefits of that inequity, I’d think you’d want to try to even that playing field in some way, help some people who weren’t so lucky with their birthright to get access to things that came much more easily into your life. This would be, I suppose, what you might call “benevolence.”

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    • Wanted to specifically address “These guys set up a bill of rights to set down the fundamental political climate for all Americans to have the same start from which to make the choices in their lives.”

      Documentation says otherwise. The so-called Founding Fathers hated the ideas of a Bill of Rights. Ideas and pressure for a B of R was came from “unruly” disadvantaged people.

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  5. We do not have, nor does anyone have (nor, might I suggest, shall any government ever have), a polity or legislation built on some kind of geometric reason. The real world cannot accommodate it. We have a coordination of proximate loves, and these are always fragile, needing to be reaffirmed. As you can see, despite continuities, there is no pure repetition of them.

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    • Doug’s BoomerRants: being rational is what we should all strive towards, and we should be rational in how we approach government — I grant this, but that’s not what I was suggesting. I was suggesting that to approach polities as though one could spin one out via some geometric method, in order to attain the best polity, fails. Plato covers this, and covers its failure well. The “city built in reason/speech” breaks down; matter cannot hold the ideal, even if it only takes on any kind of form via the _logikos_, which characterizes form.

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  6. Posner is an idiot. If we were to abide by his thinking then every generation would change the constitution to an instrument of law that suited their biases. Posner doesn’t like that the constitution is difficult to change but there is a reason to the thinking of our forefathers. Law that is subject to which way the wind blows is no law at all. Posner would abandon principle for convenience, but at what cost? either we are a nation of laws or we are not. This is the main problem with Hilary Clinton. Posner would exclude her from obeying any law she found inconvenient. How wonderful. the elite get a pass and the rest of us are held to account. If you want equality, then you must support the rule of law or there can be no equality, period.

    As to FDR, he dallied with socialism. I’m sorry, but where is it carved in stone that all his rights reflect society, let alone reality. You want a right to a job that pays you a living wage, who shall we appoint as being responsible for providing such a job? You think you have a right to a house of your own, who shall pay for that right? FDR’s bill of rights are about pandering to the public, pure and simple. Pander to the free shit army, take from those who have and give to those who have not regardless of their abilities. This is the socialism nonsense. It only works until other people’s money runs out, as we see in Venezuela. That is the complete failure of socialism, including democratic socialism. You see, rights that are given by the government are not rights at all. The right to breath air is not a government right for it cannot be taken away by an act of law. But the “right” for same sex marriage is subject to government created law. At one moment we say you can, at the next we say you can’t. Then it is not a “right” in the natural sense, it is only a legal right that can be cancelled at any time. Most of our bill of rights are just that. so why should we allow idiots like Posner the opportunity to cancel those legal rights anytime they please?

    That is why the constitution is so hard to change. It tries to keep arbitrary authority at bay. Imagine then that some demogod should want to change the constitution to suite his needs. Where is our protection from such individuals or groups? Your argument falls on deaf ears.

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  7. Freedom is not outdated. Our founders tried to give us a foundation for government where the government was supposed to be afraid of the people. The second amendment, the right to bear arms, is specifically for the purpose of the people taking the responsibility to rid ourselves of a government that is in conflict with our basic constitutional rights. It’s the difference between a free people and an enslaved populace

    Technology might be different, but the basic situation that our founders fought against is an age-old problem. It was important to our founders that people should be free of unlawful search and seizure, free to speak our minds, innocent until proven guilty, and that we should individually take responsibility for our own welfare and defense. These concepts are as valid today as they were in 1776.

    Independence day is near, and yet I find little to celebrate. At one time we were taught the meaning of the US Constitution. Now we have generations who have not been taught why our founders fought so hard and sacrificed so much. They think it’s all about the barbecue.

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  8. Hey Jordan,
    Great post, as always. I have a number of thoughts, as well as an in-progress blog on some of these themes you brought up and others brought up in comments. Instead of leaving a really long comment, I don’t like leaving blog-length comments, I’ll write a blog in reply here real soon.
    Talk to you more soon. 🙂
    AJP

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  9. Maybe a solution is every law should have an expirey date pended for review. They should say this law should be good for a max of 10 years and it’s gotta change.

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  10. Reminds me of what Thomas Jefferson himself said about constitutions and government – that every generation should create its own. That’s a bit of paraphrasing of course, but even Jefferson saw the limitations of one generation imposing its beliefs on another generation. A constitution is a contract between the people and its government of how they will be governed.

    Don’t get me started with the “God wrote the Constitution” BS. We wrap God in the flag enough as it is and make God out to be a good middle class American.

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  11. The Constitution of the United States is one of the most important documents written since the early works of Plato. It is an example for others to follow and many countries have incorporated parts into their Constitutions. The early years of the Revolution until the conclusion of the War of 1812 are fascinating to me.

    All to often I see those who voice disdain for the Founders. Keep in mind those who follow Christian beliefs will find slavery fully endorsed in Biblical writings. Follow the line from the 1200 years of the Roman Empire until Constantine converted to Christianity to find the link. Slavery and displeasure for people of color flowed from the Romans to Christianity. It is understandable the Founders would write the Constitution without mentioning slaves. Benjamin Franklin wrote extensively about the mistreatment of Native Americans and the Treaties.

    The Declaration of Independence sent to King George III on July 4, 1776, is written by people of principle and courage. Who of all the politicians, experts and pundits would have a fraction of the determination to write such a letter? Happy Independence Day

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    • “Slavery and displeasure for people of color flowed from the Romans to Christianity.” To put it mildly, this is totally false. North African Christianity held sway theologically over Roman (Pelagian) Christianity via Cyprian and Augustine. The North African Carthaginians were the ancestors of modern-day Berbers, and St. Augustine was one of them. Many Roman slaves were Celts and Anglos and Germans, so there is that. The Merovingians were willing to move their free-born into slavery if they cohabited with a slave woman. No society prior to monasticism ever imagined that they could exist without slave labor, nor could they imagine an economic model in which the absence of slavery would be really possible. It was the Italian and European city-states that were given independence to run themselves that created a sense of this, but their principles were a blend of Aristotle and Benedictine principles. For the removal of slavery, what was needed was for an initial scale to be small enough, and the principles of aristocracy to be removed — as they were in monasticism. In 4th- and 5th-century Late Antique monasticism, slave and noble entered into a level playing field. It was this model that was eventually exported in the high Middle Ages into secular polities, in part because the Benedictine model had been ecclesiasticized in Gregory the Great, and in part because later Medieval law practitioners couldn’t refrain from blending the principles of canon law and secular law.

      On a milder note, the Founders wanted to write provisos about slavery, and didn’t for various reasons, but did think that it needed to be and would be uprooted.

      The final paragraph: a hearty “yes” and “amen” I give to it.

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      • You must be reading the gentleman’s version of history. Books written by wealthy slave owners wrote most of the books used in Universities and Colleges. Augustine is a product of the Catholic Church as are all the other imagined heroes of Christianity. The north African Christians burned millions of non-Christian books at the Library of Alexandria. Every nation, town and village who fell under the rule of the Roman Empire were considered slaves. There are dozens of references to slave ownership in every version of the Bible. As one of my professors of religious doctrine said: “The spontaneous reaction of the Church is to condemn thinkers with new and original views of this kind is perhaps the most general, as it is the most striking, of all the phenomena of the Church’s history, so far back as the record goes.”

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        • I don’t even know where to begin: almost nothing you say interacts directly with what I wrote, and much of what you wrote presses on points that either I did not bring up or do not disagree with.

          Your “you must be reading the gentleman’s version of history” comment merely expresses your contempt, and it is impossible to converse with contempt as a basic position. It shuts down discourse.

          As for the truism about Universities and Colleges using mostly books written by wealthy slave owners, I really don’t know what the percentage is. Given that writing and education require leisure, and for most of human history this has been secured through the institution of slavery, that would not surprise me, though I’m really not sure whether it’s a majority. I don’t think any of us here endorse slavery, however, and this does not seem to be a very good argument against engaging with the classics, if that’s what you’re aiming at.

          I did not mention a single thing about book burning. There is no record of Christians burning the books at the Library, only the destruction of the Serapeum, which did house _some_ of the books, but there is no mention of book-burning or book-destroying there. You can project all you want, and perhaps with merit. Mobs suck, and do lots of awful damage. Still, I welcome you to produce any evidence of this alleged burning.

          When Romans brought villages and towns under Roman rule, they became slaves? Slaves as spoils-of-war is one thing: the only reason the Romans managed to cover so much territory is by delegating local leadership to local officials. Rome absorbed. I don’t know of a single case in which a conquered town was entirely enslaved, though I’d welcome you to correct me if I’m wrong.

          It’s difficult to invent anything resembling the actual history of any of the ancient churches on the basis of your professor’s maxim, and easy to misinterpret many conflicts. The western church was demonstrably wrong about several important things that it pushed back against, and in part this was because of a justified (though wrong) sense that the philosophical and cosmological tradition it had inherited was sufficient. That’s only part of the story: many of the correct innovations (_e.g._, Galileo and Copernicus) did not have sufficient theoretical justifications at first. The sufficient justifications came later. All institutions, no matter what they are, have, as a primary goal, to perpetuate themselves. It doesn’t matter what institution it is. Asking an institution to re-evaluate its positions is a very difficult thing to do, for better and for worse.

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          • There are historical elements from my first post that I would revise drastically today about monasticism’s role (or non-role), as well as adding other elements to that story, now that I’ve studied it more closely. My basic objection remains, and seems clearly unassailable vis-a-vis the original complaint, however.

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  12. The bill of rights is a fulcrum for controversy providing a “ground” for justification for decisions. That is, it is convenient. That the structure of government is outlined in a single document is convenient. Posner would like to believe that he and the common law is rational. Not.

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  13. Couldn’t foresee? Well that’s just ridiculous.
    Besides I think Thomas Jefferson said it well.

    “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” -Thomas Jefferson

    History cannot simply be discarded because it seems to ‘old’ to be applicable, especially if it is a document bearing so much weight.

    Meno

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  14. Hillsdale College offers a free on-line course to study the Constitution. I give the background on how it came about and with that comes insight into why it is relevant and important today.

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  15. Interesting discourse here. Oddly, there’s no real right or wrong opinionated here but rather differences of opinion based on our individual experiences in life. Well, let me feed this a little further.

    Andrew Joseph Pegoda: Regarding your suggestion that there’s documentation to show the Founding Fathers not “wanting” the Bill of Rights… I’ve never heard of that one before. Perhaps you can share with the class exactly where that’s been documented to the point where it’s been accepted in some universal historical context so that we can be assured it wasn’t the meandering of some slighted liberal/socialist author who feels the world owes him (of her) something for simply having been born.

    Powerful Princess 101: I respect your comments and yet I feel sad in a way that you are speaking from relative experience. I don’t wish to be confrontational because we all have our feelings and for the most part no one is going to change our respective minds. The events of the past week has gotten the nation into a tizzy, to say the least… a much needed tizzy. But, let’s keep in topic here for the moment.

    From the comments being made about “rich, white guys” I get the feeling yet again that since I am white (although not rich by ANY interpretation) that there’s something I need to apologize for. Yeah, I suppose one can’t deny that rich, white guys put together the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I guess you could even say that the Constitution is a white man’s document to create a white man’s form of government in a white man’s country… given white folks have been and are currently (just barely) the largest race represented, hence we somehow have all the economic power to make us (white folks) all rich. There’s no denying rich, white Europeans pushed out the Native Americans, brought over slavery, retained traditions to keep women second class citizens.. and started all the wars in the last 200 years to get people around the world so pissed at us that they want to kill us and destroy our “white” way of life.

    Well, here’s the thing. The Constitution contains the rules for anyone wishing to change all that. My own understanding of history is that this change has in fact been going on for the last 200 hundred years or so. True, it may not be happening fast enough for many folks, but I am not in control of that timeline… nor is anyone I personally know, other than exercising my meager “white” vote with the grand collective.

    Here’s the thing.. I may have been born into some interpretation of economic racial “privilege” because I am white, had a father who worked your average 8-5 job and mother who stayed home (they were even married!), grew up in an all white community in Chicago, walked to school without fear of gang-bangers assaulting me, went to a public school system that didn’t suffer for want of good (at the time) teachers and supplies. Yet I had to pay for college myself (partially using government money and loans that I qualified for given my parents’ low income level). I went on to a life of raising three kids and made choices that have led me to where I am now… a senior citizen working as a lowly security guard, and barely subsisting on that income and social security, and renting a home. Somehow in spite of my early privileges in life I didn’t end up rich. I wonder who I can bitch to?

    Gregorystackpole: Your remark about we should all be rational in our approach… I think that would depend upon how one rationalizes given that’s relative to each person.

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    • I really like your eirenic tone, Doug, and I like (or rather, _love_) the kind of casual tone that your writing seems saturated with. Very spoken-word.

      I’ll say this: rationality is, by definition, universal, and not merely expressive of one’s own prejudice. Lots of ostensibly rational proposals are, in fact, skewed, or else motivated, by natural prejudice, culpable bias, pathos, small-mindedness, ignorance, appetite, vice, or any number of things. Separating these from what is universal is supposed to happen when we all know how to spot them in ourselves and in others, and when we all have enough hope that public discourse can help us to sift these things out. The Constitution, so far as I can tell, aims to be as universal as possible. Insofar as it accomplishes this, it really doesn’t matter who wrote it. That doesn’t excuse the wickedness of slavery and its legacy, which has a very, very long reach.

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      • Gregory: Thanks for the kind words, sir. I must admit though I actually had to look up “eirenic”. 🙂 Growing older has made me a bit more… patient, in my writing. I guess that tends to suggest the best way to communicate in writing is less about intellectual platitudes and more about writing at that proverbial 6th grade level we all allegedly read at, for that universal appeal.

        That brings us to the universal appeal of the Constitution… and your remark about rationale being universal by definition (like that transition?). Although I find the Constitution is written in sometimes aloof language for the times, we got the point enough to build a nation around it. My question is… how did anyone interpret this document allowed slavery and racial persecution to begin with? Likely because back in those times slavery was an economic given that didn’t need mentioning. Someone took Constitutional rationale and corrupted it in what you said…rationale that was “motivated, by natural prejudice, culpable bias, pathos, small-mindedness, ignorance, appetite, vice, or any number of things.”

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        • I’ve been told by several professors that the framers wanted to outlaw slavery from the get-go, but opted not to, because it was a point of minor contention, and most people believed that it was dying and would soon die as an institution. It was only later that people started standing on the institution as an essential part of their way of life. There are many things about the institution of slavery in the U.S. that I’m not familiar with, as my focus has been on the Late Antique, Medieval and Early Modern period.

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  16. You are right in one sense that the Constitution does not speak to today. For that matter it did not speak to the late eighteenth century either. It speaks to men, man if you will, acknowledging that we are imperfect and that whenever power is given to one man, say a king, emperor or dictator, it corrupts. Power will turn the ambition of most men who achieve power to that of personal enrichment, just as we see what is happening in our government today. The Constitution tries to limit that by allowing us to chose the ones who will govern us, from the people – not a ruling class or family. The Constitution, in the wisdom of the founders, tells us what the government ‘may not do’ as it governs us at our behest and provide for us laws for all men, not just a few. The Constitution attempts to limit the amount of power government may wield over us.

    But more and more, our leaders are career politicians, perhaps starting off as lawyers or businessmen, but once elected to office, they make it their new career choice as they find just how lucrative it can be. The founders of the Constitution believed that our leaders, once chosen from the people, would not receive so much money that would make them financially independent. Rather they were to keep whatever business they came from, in tact so they had ‘skin in the game’ so to speak. And then once their term was up, they would return to it, allowing someone new to fill the space. But alas, as I said in the foregoing, to many men succumb to the temptation of power, the riches it can provide and never go back.

    God did not write the Constitution, as you reminded us that Tom Delay said; Men did. Men who acknowledged God and the freedoms that He alone could bestow on men. God gave us life. In that he gave the right to life and the right to defend ones life. He gave us Liberty, the right to live our lives as we choose, and the right to speak our minds without retribution from government. Only Man can take those away, and the Constitution sought to assure that it does not happen without due course of law. But God did not give us the right to govern, a right to wealth, housing, food or even a right to “health care”. There are no ‘Economic Rights’. The Constitution guarantees inalienable rights, not rights to outcome. Every man is different with different aspirations and abilities. Some men will be able to excel more that others, but one must work for their own outcome; not have it bestowed upon them. So there is no right to a job, right to remuneration without work, right to food or even health. There is no right to health or health care. That is a man made concept. More correctly, it is a Liberal Democrat concept.

    More and more we see Liberal politicians and pundits expound on how the Constitution is outdated. The Second Amendment is surely outdated. After all, there is no need for citizens to rise up to protect their country. We have a standing Federal Army for that (something the Founders did not want). But we do have a right to life and the right to defend our lives with whatever means necessary, including a gun. It is a God given Right, dammit and Second Amendment guarantees it.

    We also see Liberals try to legislate away our right to free speech saying that someone might be offended if we speak certain words. There was actually a push to make it illegal to speak ill of Islam or criticize Muhammad. So I guess the First Amendment is outdated too. Liberal journalists sure love it though as they hide behind it whenever they can. And the idea that we remove every vestige of God from our Government buildings, schools and remove Christmas from our Cities is ridiculous. The First Amendment did not try to deny the existence of God or for us to deny God from our proceedings. It merely endeavored to guarantee the right to worship in whatever way we choose, whatever Religion we choose. Government may not tell you how to worship, who to worship or even that you must worship at all. But our Founders recognized and acknowledged God and wanted God to be a part of our Government such God represents that which is Good. Remove and God and you are left with Evil.

    The Constitution is not perfect. It was created by imperfect men. We do have the ability to change it. If you think you have enough people thinking like you do, you can change it. But don’t go trying to get the Judiciary to create the outcome you seek – something of which we have seen a lot lately. God help us if Hillary is elected and appoints Liberal judges to the SCOTUS and elsewhere. The Constitution will truly be in jeopardy. It is not outdated. It has value as having created the greatest country on the face of the earth, in all of history. If we lose the Constitution, we will, in time, become like every other third world dictatorship. God Bless the United States of America.

    Bodrie

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  17. It has always seemed a little funny to me that the government has “The separation between religion and state” but all these politicians use god and religious as their main way to communicate with the masses of the nation. The constitution is far from perfect, and the it is true that no one would now what would happen in the future and much like a lot of old books and documents are just outdated and need some serious revision or change as a whole. Of course that will never happen because a lot of the politicians are stuck to the “American Way” where we let the writings of 1800 scholars dictate the life of the 21st century. Does that not sound insane?

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    • The “separation between church and state” actually was only originally intended to prevent the state from endorsing any one religion. You should read some of those “old books”. Might I suggest John Locke or maybe Charles de Montesquieu.

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  18. Well, I can see that you, like so many Liberals, cannot deal with with ideas or comments that are contrary to your agenda or narrative. My comment is still “awaiting moderation”. That fine – it’s your blog.

    I on the other hand, I posted your comments just as you wrote them. Good luck to you.

    Bodrie

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