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Putting the Founding in perspective

In a way, it doesn’t make much sense to ask what was wrong in the American Founding that contributed to the pickle we’re in today. We’ve got our problems but other countries mostly outdo us. We invented PC, and first made abortion a legally enforceable fundamental right, but so far at least we don’t normally put people in jail for saying un-PC things, and we haven’t (yet) ratified CEDAW or the convention on the rights of the child. Still, laws, constitutions and theories have been extremely influential in America, and they’ve shown the way to things that haven’t been all good, so it’s worth sketching issues with the particular path we’ve followed:

  • A basic problem with the Founding is viewing it as the Founding, as if American society hadn’t already existed for a century and a half. The 1787 constitution and those who wrote it were admirable in many ways, but it’s wrong to treat them as divinities that called a society into being.
  • Then there’s the nature of the national institutions that play such a role in what amounts to our political religion. The federal government was set up for purposes that were pretty much limited to commerce and national defense. People had doubts whether it should be viewed as the ultimate focus of worldly loyalty and political authority. Those doubts were effectively laid to rest in 1865. Ultimate legal authority backed by the power of the sword of necessity made it supremely authoritative. How though can something set up for such restricted and mundane purposes hold such a status?
  • The wholly secular nature of our national government, and therefore in the end our national life, became explicit in the Founders’ decision to make religion irrelevant to participation in those things, as evidenced by the “no religious test” provision, the Establishment Clause, and the letters of Washington to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport and Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists.

Even if the Founders and those who voted to ratify their work didn’t think they were helping make our national society a self-contained godless system devoted to wholly material goals, what they actually did points in that direction.

So what to do? Certainly it’s not necessary to “give up on America” or say our national life has been a bad thing. In any tradition you have to look at past acts and decisions and value some aspects of them more than others. Even those that are admirable in many ways, like the drafting of the Constitution, have limitations and you can’t make them objects of worship. America is bigger and more enduring than its positive legal institutions, and like everything else it’s part of things that transcend it. It seems to me that what experience shows is that American patriotism has to change to become more conscious of such things.

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“A basic problem with the Founding is viewing it as the Founding, as if American society hadn’t already existed for a century and a half. The 1787 constitution and those who wrote it were admirable in many ways, but it’s wrong to treat them as divinities that called a society into being.” —from the log entry

This is important. The American people, nation, and society were already in existence before the Constitution and doing quite well thank you. They thought they’d try the Constitution out so gave it a shot knowing full well it might or might not work and were presumably ready to discard it and start afresh if it didn’t. In other words, the Consitution wasn’t discovered lying on the slopes of Mt. Sinaï graven in stone. There are people on the left who think anything they can “justify” by means of their sophistry as being in the Constitution (1; 2) can be rammed down the American people’s throat by force and if that’s lethal for American society that’s just too damn bad for American society! They think the Constitution is the American nation’s jugular vein, and once they’ve gotten hold of it through their sophistries (1; 2) they’ve got life-and-death control over the American people and nation—have got them by the throat, and can throttle them to extinction at will, something their kind have wanted to do to our kind for a thousand billion years but seldom got the chance. (3) They think they’ve got it now, since in their eyes there’s nothing to us except the Constitution. What they don’t realize is that the Constitution is not the American nation’s jugular, but the American nation underlies the Constitution—not the other way around. If the Constitution be hijacked for the purpose of putting this nation to death, the nation can slough that Constitution off, survive intact, and fashion a new document free of the other’s defects while incorporating its strengths. (3) The Constitution did not erase the American people or their society but is their servant. They are in charge of it, not it of them, and their values are stronger than anything it says. (4) When it no longer serves, they are no longer bound by it. (5)

“Then there’s the nature of the national institutions that play such a role in what amounts to our political religion.” —from the log entry

Yes, let us remember that our religion is Christianity, not the Constitution or any of the “emanations,” “penumbras,” lies, monstrosities, or unclean evils that are said by the left to spring from it, such as “multiculturalism,” “diversity,” “women’s lib,” “affirmative action,” race-replacement, homosexualism, the complete annihilation of Christianity within the borders of the United States as the Bolsheviks did to Christianity within the borders of Russia, or the subordination of the U.S. government and national sovereignty to a neo-Marxist one-world dictatorship based somewhere abroad. (6; 7)
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(1) “He who deceiveth just men in an evil way shall fall in his perishing, and just men shall wield his goods.”
Proverbs 28:10 (Wycliffe) ( http://www.sbible.boom.ru/wyc/pro28.htm )

(2) “His prayer shall be made cursed who turneth away his ear that he hear not the law.”
Proverbs 28:9 (Wycliffe) ( http://www.sbible.boom.ru/wyc/pro28.htm )

(3) “Great trespasses shall be multiplied in the multiplying of wicked men; and just men shall see the fallings of them.”
Proverbs 29:16 (Wycliffe) ( http://www.sbible.boom.ru/wyc/pro29.htm )

(4) “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he who keepeth the law, happy is he.”
Proverbs 29:18 (King James)

(5) “Wield thou wisdom, for it is better than gold; and get thou prudence, for it is preciouser than silver.”
Proverbs 16:16 (Wycliffe) ( http://www.sbible.boom.ru/wyc/pro16.htm )

(6) “The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made; in the net which they hid is their own foot taken.”
Psalms 9:15 (King James)

(7) “The kings of earth stood together; and princes came together against the Lord, and against his Christ? Break we the bonds of them; and cast we away the yoke of them from us. He who dwelleth in heaven shall scorn them; and the Lord shall have them in derision. Then he shall speak to them in his ire; and he shall disturb them in his strong vengeance.”
Psalms 2:2-5 (Wycliffe) ( http://www.sbible.boom.ru/wyc/psa2.htm )

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This log entry is of course the definitive response to the Ben Wattenberg/David Frum/William Kristol NeoConman attempt to spread the brazen lie they’ve cooked up about America being something they call “a proposition nation”—whatever THAT’S supposed to be. Sorry guys… Better luck with your next lie!

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Cool out Fred. The Constitution has been hijacked for evil ends before (Dred Scott, Plessy) and the country survived; changed granted, but the world changes whether we like it or not.