Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Revelations given to the Founders

A noted strain in the Conservative movement has been a reverence for the Founders of our government that can approach extreme magnitudes.  References to the Founders are beyond count (think of the Tea Party Movement).  The Mount Vernon Statement, a new rallying-point for Conservatives that is also serving as a purity test, is an unabashed wish to do nearly everything following the example of the Founders:
Some insist that America must change, cast off the old and put on the new. But where would this lead — forward or backward, up or down? Isn’t this idea of change an empty promise or even a dangerous deception?
 The idealized view of the Founders has emerged as an element in the nomination of Elena Kagan to the US Supreme Court, since she clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall, and has effusive praise for his legal mind.  Yet Justice Marshall perceived the Constitution, as originally written, to be imperfect since it distributed rights to a select few.  This prompted the Republican National Committee to release a memo entitled "Does Kagan still view Constitution 'As Originally Drafted And Conceived’ As ‘Defective’?”

At least some of this mindset is attributable to the strong religious background of many (probably most) people in the Conservative movement.  Ancient written truth is to be received, and to question all or part of that truth is unacceptable.  Studying Jesus and other religious figures, putting aside credibility, reversing rationality (first the truth, then the justification, e.g., creation science), excusing and explaining inconsistencies, etc.,  puts one in a certain frame of mind.  And switching it off is not easy.

But the Founders were human beings, and their writings are the work of Man, not of Supreme Beings.  Their conclusions are only as valid as our best and most current evidence and reasoning indicate are true.  And like all fields of human endeavor, there are constant advancements and improvements to our conception of how to run a government.

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