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Monday, January 7, 2013

Why the Constitution is important and the dangers of Progressivism

After reading this article about a constitutional professor saying we should abandon the Constitution, I felt the need to once again post.  It's been a bit, as there's been so much focus on the holiday season.  However, it's time (hopefully) to get back on track with writing and I promise to finish my series on Christianity in America soon.

Basically put, what we have in this professor's op-ed is all the standard progressive talking points pointing to why we should abandon the core document of our country for over 200  years....

  • Why should we listen to dudes that have been dead for almost 200 years?
  • The constitution is too hard to change
  • It favors white men (no, really)
Those are the biggest points.   Of course, the man is well educated and can make his argument sound convincing, but ultimately that's what it comes down to.  The document is outdated,  hard to change, and racist.  Sound familiar?  If you linked it to the continual onslaught of progressivism's tendency to want to ignore and/or wipe the wisdom of those who came before us, then you're right on the money.   It's a common characteristic for progressives/liberals to favor the cooler "wisdom of youth" instead of the practical, traditional, and many times boring "wisdom of the elders".   It's a common trope that "old people just don't get modern society" and thus shun their accumulated wisdom.  So take that idea, but apply it to our nation's infrastructure.  Same thing, really.  

And this is why progressivism can be so dangerous.  It's replacing the practical wisdom of our elders with the hubristic "wisdom of youth".  By always looking forward without taking the wisdom of the past into consideration, we set ourselves up to make the same mistakes that have been made throughout history.   This is why communism/socialism continues to fail.  Every iteration has the hubris to believe they're better than those that tried it before them.  Yet, they still fail.  And yet, another generation will carry on with the same "THIS time we'll get it right!" even though the wisdom of our Founding Fathers has led America to have gotten it right for over 200 years.

And while this hubris does increase our chances of repeating past mistakes, this particular type of constitutional progressivism would snuff out what  has been considered the best hope for the world and the only doctrine that has gotten it right far more than it has been wrong especially when comparing it to socialist states.  If that ever happens, society on a global scale will have "progressed" into how societies were 200 - 300 years ago...you know, the societies that our Founding Fathers knew about first hand and struggled against.

Sounds like exaggeration?  There were kings, queens, and nobility back then!  We'd never have that stuff again!  Well, perhaps not in that same form, but think about this:  Most nobility, and particularly royalty, believed it was their God given right to rule over the peasants.  They believe they were divinely appointed to their positions, meaning their logic was beyond reproach.  In other words, their word was law and was not to be questioned.   Needless to say I consider this a gross abuse and misrepresentation of God which is utterly faulty because even the people we know that God appointed to be king (like David) were never beyond reproach.

Anyway, substitute divine appointment with human intellect.  So instead of God giving them the right to rule, they have the right to rule because they're smarter than everyone else and therefore know what's best for everyone.   The same concept, the justification to rule absolutely over others, applies, but the justification has changed.  So while they're not called a king, a queen, or nobility, if their ideas and words are believed to be absolute and beyond reproach, it's the same thing.  Know any politicians in America that dislike having to go through that pesky Congress to get a law passed?  Know any that don't like having their ideas opposed?Well there's your people with the king/queen mentality in this modern era.

While progressives like to scoff at listening to some men from over 200 years ago as being "outdated", they display their own lack of wisdom and depth.  The Founding Fathers all witnessed tyranny firsthand.  They had no luxury of a constitution to save their hides.  They saw how someone with too much power can be corrupted.  Not only did they see this, but they even saw into ways that governments have usurped power in the past.  They saw how someone with absolute power could shape the law of the land to their liking and discard whatever was already established (aka fitting the law to 'modern' times) .   They knew the dangers that created.  They were far far more close to the face of tyranny than any progressive in today's time has been.  To say that because their time was 200 years ago that they could not understand the hearts and minds of men two centuries later is ridiculous.  Human nature is pretty constant.  So while our economic landscape and culture has drastically changed, the very thing the Constitution protects against has not:  the nature of people to want power so they can shape society the way they think is best.  That is a constant that will never change.

The Constitution was made hard to change precisely because it limits the power of one or a handful of individuals.  Remember one of the ways those in power acquire more power is by changing the rules of the game.  Look at what Morsi is doing over in Egypt.  He's trying to change the rules of the game to grant himself more power.  It's not going very well for him, but nonetheless he made the predictable power grab many of us saw coming.  So the Founding Fathers made changing the rules very difficult on purpose.  Essentially, over 2/3 of the people (represented in congress) must agree to the change which means that the country really really wants it.  If it doesn't get that majority, then guess what? The country evidently doesn't want it enough.

And  Instead of the Constitution being "outdated", it should be seen as the sterling example of getting it right that it is by withstanding the test of time for over 200 years.  No it is not perfect by any means as can be seen by the 27 Amendments that have been made to it.  But while the document itself is not perfect, I fully believe the system in place for changing it is as close to perfect as it gets.  If the people want it, there'll be resounding support for the change.  If it's too controversial, then it's shot down like it should.   In other words, the Constitution is indeed a living, evolving document. It just doesn't evolve fast enough for progressivism's liking - which is a good thing.

Maybe one day we'll become a socialist state.  But as long as that's done by the books (aka following the Constitution), then it can be seen as what Americans legitimately (and stupidly in this case) want.  But until that day, everyone should be wary of the people that whine about how the rules are too harsh and desperately wish they can change them more easily.  Those are the people everyone should be concerned about.