October 20, 2012
What the Founding Fathers got wrong
As we enter the start of another Supreme Court term and Justices Scalia and Alito worship the written word of the US Constitution even more than some Muslims who almost make the Quran a second god (and Quranolotry IS more a concern in Islam than Bibliolatry among even fundamentalist Christians), and as both Goody Two-Shoes/Tweedledee Romney and Dear Leader/Tweedledum Obama fall all over themselves to venerate that piece of paper, let’s look at what the Constitutional Founding Fathers got wrong.
First, for the “sake” of nation-building, “all men” of the Declaration of Independence became all white men. Black slaves in the south became 3/5 of a census abstract “person” for electoral votes; Indians not taxed got excluded while Indians who wanted to live like white folks, even with taxation, got chased to Oklahoma.
Second, ignoring the possibility of political parties, even though the British Parliament already had different factions, that were formed in part on political differences, and not just being “in” or “out” at court.
Third, the electoral college, in multiple ways. They didn’t consider winner-take-all possibilities. They didn’t allow for one state having 65 times the population of another, as part of that (California vs Wyoming) rather than 12.7 ties larger as in 1790 (Virginia vs Delaware, including slave numbers). Juliet Lapidos at the NYT also notes this.
They didn’t foresee mechanical reapers changing agriculture. Nor railroads, then cars and airplanes, overturning transportation and connectedness. They had no idea of the Internet and what it would do. Nor of atomic energy.
They failed to see that an ambitious and ardent man could make the presidency a strong executive indeed, despite the fears that most of them not named Alexander Hamilton had of that.
They failed to even entertain the idea of a parliamentary government with a low-power head of state president, rather than a king, blindly leaning too much on Montesquieu.
But, just as Christian fundamentalists don’t want to hear that their bible was written by humans who weren’t only fallible in a general sense, but short-sighted like other humans, unimaginative, and sometimes downright wrong, so the Scalitos of the world will book no opposition about the weakness, even wrongness, of the constitution.
Ditto for the Robert Byrds, who think “civics” is another word for “worship the Constitution.”
Well, it’s not.
If you really want to know more of what’s wrong with it, read “The Frozen Republic.”