After doing the open mic we had the NBA Finals on Thursday night, and with my Celtics playing, I simply cannot miss watching those games. And to have it be game 7 as well… I will only say that I felt that the officiating was horrible, as evidenced by the fact that the Celtics had 5 players with 4 or more fouls with 3 minutes left. The Lakers had 1. The Lakers were sent to the line to shoot free throws 21 times in the 4th quarter. The Celtics only 6. 37-17 for the entire game. Refs just were determined to give the Lakers every chance they could to score. I am disgusted with the game. The Celtics beat them, the refs took it away. For the guest commentary, we have another appearance by Jon Smith. Jon has been sending me guest commentary articles regularly. I am always impressed with the way that he thinks out the issues, and I enjoy reading his articles. Certainly when I have other guest commentaries to post, I will do so. But I am never disappointed when I am posting Jon’s. For anyone who is not aware, Jon also has his own blog, which also usually feature the articles that we discuss here. You can visit Jon’s blog here: The Libertarian Blog (will open up a new window).
I find this particular topic an interesting one. We have heard from some here at SUFA that believe a complete return to the Constitution would be the cure to all that ails America. I have disagreed with that premise from the start. In my opinion, that is merely pushing a reset button, and would eventually lead to a far worse situation than even the one that we have now. In other words, the same degradation of freedom and liberty would occur. However, I believe that this time it would occur far more rapidly than it did the first time. So the calls for a return to Constitutional purity are dangerous calls.
It amounts to the call for a Constitutional Convention to be held in today’s modern world. That would be a gigantic mistake. We are at a point in our history where the population of citizens is at an all time low in terms of understanding liberty and espousing its benefits. Progressive thought has permeated the American mindset and poisoned the waters of freedom. To have a Constitutional Convention in today’s political environment would surely lead to a document that is 20,000 pages long and which favors the “greater good of society” over the individual rights of man. For those who are willing to risk scrapping the flawed vision for liberty that we have in favor of a new attempt in today’s environment, more power to you. But I will not support such an endeavor, and a growing number of liberty seekers are beginning to understand the flaw to this idea as well.
The founders were fallible men. They did not present us with a perfect document, nor did they have the absolute correct path forward. This has been proven with the perversion of the Constitution that we have seen over the last 100 years. But I do believe that they truly were men of great vision. They were well thought out men who analyzed all they could find and attempted to come up with the absolute best form of government that they could imagine in their time. Could we do better? Maybe, but I doubt that a better version could be sold to the public in today’s environment.
But even if we could today do better, we should absolutely give a gigantic applause to the efforts of these men who created a document during very different times that is essentially still a document that is pertinent to today’s world. They didn’t have the internet. They didn’t have access to nearly the amount of information or insight that an average high school kid today does. Yet despite their limitations, they crafted a brilliant document that has essentially stood the test of time. I believe we could write a better Constitution, but I also believe that even if we did, it would not be nearly as able to stand up to 250 years of scrutiny the way the current one has.
Enough of my thoughts for now, I will let Jon offer his thoughts to all of you. And then we can all discuss away for the rest of the weekend!
Respect the Founders
by Jon Smith
There is a lot of fuss about the founding fathers of this country.
There are those who swear by them, feel that they are some of the greatest men in our history, and believe their intentions were impecable. Most of them also believe in the Constitution of the United States as a great document with few flaws, and that things would be far better if we got back to it instead of treading on it constantly.
There are others who point out the flaws of the Founders, the hypocrisy of them being slave owners or sexist or whatever. Most of them are quick to dismiss the constitution as an outdated document, or at best as an “evolving document”, something that should change with the culture, as if the wisdom of today and our leaders is comparable to the Founders.
I get the point of those who disrespect the founders. They preached equality, but some owned slaves, and they did not move to free them. They claimed all men were created equal, and this excluded women and children. Some even spoke more highly of landowners than other men, and they were cautious not to anger the educated and aristocratic far more than the rank and file. The more liberal minds and the so-called “socially conscious” thought the state was restricted too much by the constitution and claim the founders were uncharitable aristocrats, rich people, who incited to war many with less resources and less understanding then they, and lived to tell the tale, pronouncing themselves leaders. Further accusations even include Early American attitudes toward the Native population. On the side of the libertarian and freedom loving folk that criticize the founders, much criticism is held for various flaws in the Constitution. Separation of church and state was not clear enough, separation of business and state was not present, the second amendment was not clear enough, and the biggest blunder of all, the support of a public education system.
These flaws and more are not denied. There are flaws in the constitution. There is language that is lost and things misunderstood. Intentions are lost because of a lack of clarity. The founders themselves had imperfections. Some were too quick to include British common law in the standards of courts. Exceptions were made in the principles of freedom for many things that should not have been. Even those who have read the other writings and believe in the purer intentions of the founders admit to mistakes in the constitution and errors in the ways of the founders themselves.
I still hold them in the highest esteem. I find that the constitution, if followed (of course including the parts that fixed the inequality of men and expanded it to all mankind) would right a lot of our current ills. Despite its gaps and flaws, it remains a document of freedom, with many of the most important aspects of freedom intact. I think it needs to be redone, re-invented. I think that it could be returned to, but that we can learn from the last 240 years and do better this time. But the founders I still respect. Why?
Certainly they were educated men, philosophers, men who thought of something greater than themselves, and men who opened the world to the idea of equality and distribution of power. They took great risk to their own life and property. They tried to follow the protocols granted them in the government they had, and held the moral high ground, at least in many ways, before declaring revolution. They were not the first, they were not thinking of freedom in totally original terms, but they were still early in the game. They created a system that kept men free for a long time, and it worked much better and for much longer than many of them feared.
Ultimately though, I think it comes down to the following analogy that dawned on me the other day. Thomas Edison, known as the inventor of the light bulb. He was not the first to think of making light from electricity. He was not the only one working on that problem. In fact, some of his original ideas, such as the phonograph, occurred in part by accident. The modern LED light is far superior to Edison’s bulb. The incandescent bulb, Edison’s triumph, was the primary light producing source for many many decades. But we can easily point out that the LED bulb lasts a great deal longer, is cheaper to make, burns far less power, is dimmable and comes on instantly just like incandescent, It produces far less heat, making it safer, and it can be made of parts that do not shatter or have sharp residue when broken. Does this mean that Edison was an idiot for not creating the LED light? Should we berate him for giving up too early and not finding a better solution? Should we point to the many flaws of the incandescent light as proof of the idiocy of Thomas Edison?
Of course not, to do such a thing would be absurd. Nearly as absurd as holding the understanding of men from a culture dominated by Monarchies nearly two and a half centuries ago against today’s standards and calling them hypocrites and fools and idiots. Certainly technology has advanced more than the nature of man, but it must be understood that within the culture of the day, the Founders took great risk and made a great stride in the world of freedom. They deserve honor and respect. This does not mean that we should venerate the constitution and treat it as the final answer to the world, but it does mean that we should at least look at it as a starting point. The wheel is already invented, now let us make one that works better, smoother, and is tougher against the constant attack of tyranny.