Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Heart of the Constitution.

The right wing of the political spectrum in this country would have you think that they revere the Constitution.  They constantly bleat on and on about how they protect it and it should reflect the Founders' values - which they conveniently twist around to reflect their own.

So, today, let's take a look at that idea.

Think about this for a moment.  What is the foundation of our political system?  What one principle is at the basis of how our government is designed?  Anybody?

"Freedom!"  Well, it's there, but as something to be protected, not the basic principle.  Ok, you there, in the back...

"Democracy!"  No, that's what we call the system...ok, in the third row over there!

"Government by the people?"  BINGO!  You win the door prize, please wait for the maintenance man to take it off the hinges before you try to take it home!

To be a bit more precise, the Declaration of Independence puts it like this:

"...governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

Ah, the enlightened words of Thomas Jefferson!  So, now - just what do those words mean, and how do they pertain to today's struggles?

Again, the right wing would have you believe that the Constitution is a static document, that it should be interpreted in the light of what those words meant when that document was ratified.  Ignore all of the centuries in between, what did it mean then?

But, is that really what the Founders wanted?  I don't think so, because they gave us a way to amend it, and more than one Founder remarked of the necessity to actually use that power.  Jefferson actually put a time period to that use; about every ten years or so, he said it may be necessary to revisit that document to bring it up to date.

So says one of the progressive thinkers of his age, a man whose writings, as published, shook the feudal system in Europe to its roots.  Why?  Because those monarchists were the Conservatives of his day!  Their system had endured for over a millennium, and they were very comfortable in their wealth, power and privilege.

His idea was that in order to stay ahead of the Conservatives you had to keep up with the times, to keep updating your laws to reflect the thinking of the people, at that time.  Conservatism is a backward looking ideology, changing more slowly than progressivism and defending its past as the precursor to their preferred future.

But how can you have a government who derives its powers from the consent of the governed if the ideals and values of that government are rooted in the past and not in the present or the future?  The old ways are dying out - the numbers of Conservatives holding to present Conservative values as we know them today are becoming a distinct minority, and that minority is getting smaller with each passing year - as the values of the future are being reflected in the young people coming of voting age every year.

This last election has shown that the right wing is getting desperate - even to the point of lying even to themselves about polls and elections and how many people hold their values.  How can they run a good Presidential campaign if they can't even see the polls correctly?

I know, they are beginning to concentrate on the States and local races, as if State and local races can trump Federal law!  We on the left can only hope that those demographics catch up with them fast - or we will start seeing attempts by the right wing to use their local and State power to try to change that Constitution to suit themselves!

Probably won't happen, but it pays to be prepared...

1 comment:

Oldfart said...

The most disastrous election in the last half century was the election of 2010 when Congress was invaded by the extreme right wing and many statehouses became right wing playgrounds. People are still paying for that today, especially in states like Kansas where the Governor and his veto-proof statehouse do whatever they want.