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Monday, March 27, 2017

WASHINGTON — You cannot talk for very long to a conservative these days without hearing the words “constitutional” and “constitutionalist.”

Formulations such as “I am a constitutional conservative” or “I am a constitutionalist” are Tea Party habits, but they are not confined to its ranks. Many kinds of conservatives contend that everything they believe is thoroughly consistent with the views and intentions of our 18th-century Founders.

Wielding pocket-sized copies of the Constitution, they like to cite it to settle political disputes. Writing in the YG Network’s recently issued conservative manifesto, “Room to Grow,” Ramesh Ponnuru argues that there is a new and salutary “popular interest in constitutionalism.”

“Instead of treating the Constitution as the property of lawyers and judges,” he notes, “it proposes that legislators, and even citizen-activists, have an independent duty to evaluate the constitutionality of legislation.”

One plausible progressive response is to see Ponnuru’s exercise as doomed from the start. The framers could not possibly have foreseen what the world would look like in 2014. In any event, they got some important things wrong, most glaringly their document’s acceptance of slavery.

Moreover, because the Constitution was written primarily as a foundation for government, it can answer only so many questions. David Strauss of the University of Chicago Law School authored a book called The Living Constitution to make plain that there is a lot more to this concept than its detractors suggest. He notes that “a great part of the framers’ genius lay exactly in their ability to leave provisions general when they should be left general, so as not to undermine the document’s ability to serve as common ground.”

The problem with “originalists,” Strauss says, is that they “take general provisions and make them specific,” even when they’re not. One might add that the originalists’ versions of specificity often seem to overlap with their political preferences.

Nonetheless, progressives should take Ponnuru’s proposal seriously and think constitutionally themselves. In doing so, they would challenge conservative claims about what the Constitution really demands.

In the May issue of the Boston University Law Review, Joseph R. Fishkin and William E. Forbath of the University of Texas Law School show that at key turning points in our history (the Jacksonian era, the Populist and Progressive moments, and the New Deal), opponents of rising inequality made strong arguments “that we cannot keep our constitutional democracy — our republican form of government — without constitutional restraints against oligarchy and a political economy that maintains a broad middle class, accessible to everyone.”

Their article is called The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution, though Forbath told me that he and Fishkin may give the book they’re writing on the topic the more upbeat title The Constitution of Opportunity. Their view is that by empowering the wealthy in our political system, Supreme Court decisions such as Citizens United directly contradict the Constitution’s central commitment to shared self-rule.

“Extreme concentrations of economic and political power undermine equal opportunity and equal citizenship,” they write. “In this way, oligarchy is incompatible with, and a threat to, the American constitutional scheme.”

While their overarching vision contrasts sharply with Ponnuru’s, they make a similar critique of what they call an excessively “court-centered” approach to constitutionalism. “Constitutional politics during the 19th and early 20th centuries” was very different and the subject of democratic deliberation. In earlier eras, they say, the Constitution was seen as not simply permitting but actually requiring “affirmative legislation … to ensure a wide distribution of opportunity” and to address “the problem of oligarchy in a modern capitalist society.”

The authors remind us of Franklin Roosevelt’s warning that “the inevitable consequence” of placing “economic and financial control in the hands of the few” would be “the destruction of the base of our form of government.” And writing during the Gilded Age, a time like ours in many ways, the journalist James F. Hudson argued that “imbedded” in the Constitution is “the principle” mandating “the widest distribution among the people, not only of political power, but of the advantages of wealth, education and social influence.”

The idea of a Constitution of Opportunity is both refreshing and relevant. For too long, progressives have allowed conservatives to monopolize claims of fealty to our unifying national document. In fact, those who would battle rising economic inequalities to create a robust middle class should insist that it’s they who are most loyal to the Constitution’s core purpose. Broadly shared well-being is essential to the framers’ promise that “We the people” will be the stewards of our government.

E.J. Dionne’s email address is [email protected] Twitter: @EJDionne.

Photo: Adam Theo via Flickr

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87 Responses to Our Progressive Constitution

  1. The problem with Tea Party supporters wrapping themselves with the flag and the Constitution is that, with the notable exception of slavery, their record and vision are the exact opposite to what the Constitution enshrines.
    The spirit of the Constitution does not endorse or encourage the implementation of policies that help the top 1% of earners at the expense of the remaining 99%. It does not endorse the implementation of policies that impede progress to score political points. Again, with the exception of slavery, it does not endorse inequality. Most importantly, the Constitution, and its Amendments, are often so vague that they leave it up to future generations of Americans to interpret what is best for their circumstances.

    • Good post, Dominick. Some of the Tea Party and conservative crowd, I think, will eventually come to realize that they’ve been duped by the extremely wealthy, but it may be too late; we will have lost our democracy. And they will be on the “short end of the stick” with the rest of us.

      The scary part is that a lot of them are in possession of as many guns as they please and are capable of using them for what they may feel is a justifiable purpose; to correct the situation.

      • Considering the variety of the vital issues in contention these days,it is likely that when things come to a head ie;the majority of the people will take control of the government which belongs to them,that things will be many times more bloody and violent than they were during the birth of civil rights.If they don’t want to die,then those who rise up in protest must give up the notion of non-violent civil disobedience.You may guarantee yourself that those in power will have no intention of being non-violent.

    • Well, it DID endorse inequality. As I state above, ONLY landowners had Constitutional rights. That cuts out huge swathes of the population…women, Blacks, laborers, immigrants. The Constitution was an oligarch’s dream, which is why we should not be holding it up as some Biblical truth. It does what it was designed to do: control the masses. Hamilton and Madison were not democrats. They were aristocrats. The democrats were useful tools in helping American aristocrats throw off the British powers that taxed the American business interests. When the British were out, though, the revolutionaries were also out. We all should take a jaundiced view of American Constitutional history. The idealization of the Founding Fathers and their writings is a product of jingoistic historians.

      • I see that you studied the Constitution. However, I don’t think it was a oligarch’s dream. Since the wealthy agreed to fund the government, they felt like it was they who should have the right to vote. There were no taxes then. This angered the small landowners and the tradespeople and they demanded the right to vote. It was agreed that they should help fund the government. However when it comes to money running the government and the so called supreme court, the founding fathers warned against it. Benjamin Franklin warned against money stealing the government and Thomas Jefferson did, also. George Washington actively fought money.

    • Part of the problem is there are so many functionally illiterate people in the world who cannot understand what they read. They don’t study the situations and are prey to those who want to control them.

  2. Thank you very much indeed E.J. Dionne, for coming up with an article on this issue. It’s something which has been disturbing me a lot when I hear it. One has to ask self a question: When was the constitution written? For what purpose? And why amendments have been done every now and then? And should we really continue to stick on something which was written those times while, we are living in a different time? And if we continue making amendments, won’t we end up with something new quite different from what was written from the beginning? If so, what is the use of having a Constitution then? It’s not a Bible where no one is allowed to make any alteration.

    • Except the “Bible” was changed dramatically by the Nicene Creed in the 4th Century A.D. And, of course, the “King James” english version has also quite a few changes in it. And the “Dead Sea Scrolls”, originally in the bible, and now only scholars know about it.
      Only Fundamentalists think the Bible is “written by God” and is unalterable. But that doesn’t prevent them from thinking it is the LITERAL TRUTH of God.

        • Of Course! Even though all their “pictures” of Christ show him to be a long-haired sandle wearing hippie type…

          • I have a similar picture.I wonder how many folks consider the likelihood that when they are seeing news of the people in the mid-East that Christ looked anything like they do.

          • The light-skinned, brown-haired picture, we get of Jesus, was an artist’s rendition during the middle ages.

      • And every “christian” who reads the bible interprets it differently. They all use the so called “holy” book to rationalize their own personal beliefs and try to enforce their own moral laws. .

        Same thing with the Constitution, the whack-job right say it means one thing, and the lunatic-fringe left says it means something else.

        In the end, no one seems to really know EXACTLY what the founding fathers actually meant.

        What we need to remember, is that they provided means for the Constitution to change, and clearly knew it WOULD change.

        Now if we could AGREE on what needs changing we would have a great nation. To bad that will never happen!

        • Actually, if you read the arguments that led up to the Constitution, it would be easier to understand it.They needed a template for the new government and started out with the Articles of Federation. This didn’t set well with the Northern states. Then Thomas Jefferson wrote the constitution, as we know it, with changes. He felt ex-post-facto would allow those, who had slaves, to keep them, Henceforth, there would be no buying and selling of slaves. That became one bone of contention and he was told to take that out. Then there were arguments over details, so they agreed to pass a foundation for democracy and passed the Constitution with the agreement it could be amended as needed. If you study the Declaration of Independence you will know how we got some of the amendments and the Bill of Rights..

      • … And the latest revision where they substituted ‘kill’ in the ten commandments to ‘murder’ in an effort to justify all the wars that they’ve created under the guise of religion.. Now it’s a sin to murder but to kill will give you an out.. Most absurd.

        • I did not know that Durdy! Thanks, here I was naively remembering my 55 year old Catechism class where the nuns said “Thou shalt not kill.” There was no out for war, or someone told you to.
          (or someone cut you off in traffic, or you don’t like the feds, etc.)
          Well, heck, I’m teaching my child, “thou shalt not kill”! They will have to learn that weaseling out sh** from someone else.

      • To be precise, the BIBLE was not changed by the Nicene Creed; however, the entire history of compilation of both the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament to Christians) and the New Testament involves copyists “editing” what they read in the old copy to make the new copy “better” than the old. Since the New Testament was copied by just barely qualified amateur scribes in the first few centuries, we have more discrepancies between Greek copies of various books than there are WORDS in the entire New Testament.

        The Dead Sea Scrolls have nothing to do with the New Testament except that their two messiahs, described in the SECTARIAN documents, sound like anticipations of Jesus a hundred years earlier. However, they do include books or parts of books of the canonical Hebrew Bible, except for Esther. Where there are extra copies of the same book, there are differences between them, but generally they agree more with the Septuagint (the Greek translation made in Egypt for Hellenistic Jews outside of Palestine), which became the Greek Orthodox Old Testament, than with the Masoretic Hebrew text which became the canon for modern Jews.

  3. Whenever I hear these whack jobs use the Constitution, as they do, I listen with total derision for their stupidity. As the article points out: The Constitution was written as a foundation to build Democracy on. If they ever bothered to read the arguments that led to its adoption, they might be a little smarter, but I doubt it. I don’t think they have the ability to read comprehensively.

    • They also don’t seem to see the dichotomy between being, alleged, defenders of the Constitution and doing everything they can do deny some members of our society their right to vote or choose what they believe is best for them.

    • I respectfully disagree. In many ways, the Constitution was an anti-democratic document. It was designed to protect the interests of the well-to-do, and the Founding Fathers showed enormous distrust for the great unwashed. Read the writings of Gouvernor Morris and compare them to the writings of the real revolutionaries, like Thomas Paine, who were kept out of the corridors of power. Remember, only the landowners were granted the vote.

      I think we are better off being realistic and skeptical about the true nature of the very flawed document that is our Constitution, rather than claiming it says what we want it to say. That is a problem of both the “originalists” and the liberals. When we sanctify the document, we make ourselves a slave to it.

      • While I don’t dispute the cautionary nature of the framers.
        And I’m no status quo ideologue. The Constitution itself, along with The accompanying Bill of Rights, does lay out some very fundamental, and essential directives to insure the power of the State, flows from the general consent of the governed. And that consent has been greatly expanded by a better understanding, and Amendment, over the years. It is also true as ever, democracy does not beat in the hearts of all who profess their undying love for it. And the document in question is, and will always be, as long as it exists, imperfect. Reflecting the imperfections, and human ness of both those who had first conceived, and written it. And those who have since sworn to defend, and protect it, and the fallibility of those today, as they interpret it, as some will always point out, their clear biases. However, the fallibility of man, (and later, all men, and woman,) is addressed directly in the Preamble. Challenging the people, “To form a more perfect Union.” Acknowledging, self government by it’s very nature is a work in progress. And far from demanding The People be a slave to it’s directives. It offers a never ending stream of possibilities, within it’s framework for free discussion, decent, freedom of expression, and a press, free from censorship, to be a watchdog for the people. With broad and firm checks, and balances on the institutions of gov. While laying out in the most general of terms, the responsibilities of that government so informed, and held thereof. Among those, it states, to “Protect, and Defend, The United States. (The Country.) “To ensure domestic tranquility.” Enforce the law, keep the peace, protect the property, and Rights of the citizen, against all threats, domestic, and foreign. And, it directs government to, “Work for the common good.” And all of those things are ideals. Set out for The People to decide, what those laws, and other protections, may, or may not work toward those goals. It also sets very specific rules governing the peaceful transition of power. One of the giant leaps forward at the time of it’s adoption. Within it the knowledge that power once gained will not be given up easily. But for those acquiring it under this document, the directives are set out, and made extremely hard to change, observing the set out limitations, and restrictions. So, I say yes! Let’s sanctify this document. At least until, as it makes allowances for it’s own demise. We, as a People can write a better one.

        • Motives are sometimes difficult to discern. My feeling is that there were those who were motivated to revolt against the British in hopes of a truly democratic state relieved of domination by nobility and class restraints, and those aristocrats that were simply looking for taxation relief–two very different incentives for political change–not necessarily reform. Americans have a jingoistic mindset that envisions sanctified aspirations of the Founding Fathers, and subsequently endorses a view of the Constitution that is at once moral, guileless and selfless. And as long as we see the document they devised in the light of these rose colored glasses, we fail to understand the mean-spirited, selfish and flawed character of that Constitution. When we as a people begin with the premise that this is a document to be corrected to benefit the many rather than to be adored in order to benefit the few, we will be a better nation.

          • It seems they believed in the concept of taxes, as
            necessary to fund the functions of government. I
            think their problem was the taxes imposed were arbitrary, parasitic, going to support the Crown, and levied without representation. As to the Constitution, I’ll try to keep an open mind, if you have another one such document to compare.

          • While our Constitution may be lacking I consider it better than other alternatives, we are lucky to live in the USA, our standard of living is higher, and our energy and goods are cheaper.

            It is structured to change with proper input. Move to Amend is a group that works to legislate an amendment to banish; money as speech and personhood to corporations. How many other nations have the capacity to enact sweeping changes like this?

    • Funny enough they are always using The Constitution as the Law. That isn’t what it was meant for! Guidance and requirement to abide to, are not the same thing.

      • They argued over every part of the constitution and decided to formulate a basis to build on. I am sure, knowing the wisdom of those framers of the Constitution, if they could see what is happening, today, they would have built safeguards to protect us.

  4. Any Constitution is created to “organize” whether it’s an entire country or a tiny group of members in civic or charity organizations. A constitution creates the basis of the purpose of bringing together like minds and beliefs to advance ideals and goals.

    The US Constitution hasn’t changed. Americans have. Some Americans like to create their own interpretation of the Constitution’s meaning. They simply refuse to accept it as it was written. These are the same Americans who abhor the Bill of Rights that clearly promotes equality for all Americans.

    So..what do we really have in today’s American society? Dissidents or anarchists who demand obedience to their interpretations? Seems to me that’s how men like Hitler, Stalin, Jim Jones, David Koresh and Warren Jeffs managed to be super high grand pubbah control freaks.

    The biggest danger in society today as many seniors see it? Control freaks. Everywhere you look, there’s someone desperate to get attention and use that attention as a control strategy.

    Instead of unity, we have division. Division is the calculated attempt by anarchists to divide a country and sectionalize it purely for control. If you can divide millions of Americans, you have now created the weak link to gain control.

      • Thank you. Ironic isn’t it? The more things change, the more they stay the same. We can all afford the luxury of reasoning things out together and using our reasoned results for advancing our society.

        • Compromise has become a nasty word in a society that requires such in order to exist in balance.. This word has been stricken from political minutes and the results of eliminating that word is what we’re suffering from today.

          • Compromise is always a nasty word to control freaks. It’s simply not possible to get a needle brain to pass through an intelligent thought much less get them to “reason” any issue out with others. As their hero Bush stated back in 2004, “MY way or the highway.” Only problem with that is that his way was on all taxpayers dollar.

          • I watched the Charlie Rose Program last night.A quote from long ago was used stating that the people of the United States can never get along together by themselves without a government to rule and bring consensus based on the wishes of,or what is in the best interest of the majority,giving due regard to not being overly burdensome to the minority.
            Makes sense to me.

    • You have it. It was a strategy that destroyed a country’ democracy and allowed a nut to wreak havoc on the world.

  5. How dare those terrible conservatives and tea party members carry a copy of the constitution. Who do they think they are – American citizens maybe?

        • Do you think that so called conservatives are the only ones who have a copy of the Constitution or are you looking for a fight.

          • Nope; the article I commented on was making fun of conservatives and/or tea party members carrying the constitution with them. I am saying they have as much right to carry the constitution as anyone else. You inferred that they are citizens in name only. I just am curious if you don’t believe they should be called American citizens because they are conservatives or tea party members.

          • Funny how so many who worship the Constitution want to destroy the very creature Madison wrote into existence.

            Imagine no America, a famous conservative has instructed recently, I concur. Imagine an America that refused to ratify the Constitution staying with a weak Articles of Confederation that would have certainly led to the disintegration of the United States of America.

            Imagine no Louisiana Purchase, no Mexican conquest, no manifest destiny. California would still be new Spain and the coast to the north would still be Russia, the entire midwest through the west would have developed as some separate nation. Indigenous tribes likely would have prevailed in many areas.

            Slave states would have peeled off on their own, abolition would have been impossible.

            But the Constitution WAS ratified, and established the most enduring nation in modern times. Booklets of the Constitution are not all about the Bill of Rights, Madison wrote a strong government into the commerce clause, and all the delusional historians hung up on “limited government” regurgitate revisionist history.

          • As a Native American(Mohawk,Onandaga) I tell you now that manifest destiny was a myth that was used to justify the genocide of the red race.The term was long out of use by the time of the Civil War and you are wrong to promote it as something beneficial.

          • Your point is well taken, and established to a point of
            enormous regret, among many more enlightened, and
            informed Americans today Yet, the idea of a grand
            blessed destiny, persists. Perhaps in this instance,
            innocently so. As his larger point, that the Constitution served a bourgeoning Nation well, as a unifying, and successful document, is inarguably true. Although the
            Southerners did, I believe, think they had signed it with an out, if they ever decided they wanted to take it. But slavery was an abomination, and a National disgrace, even as the 19th century was beginning. It simply could not be allowed to continue on. But again, absolutely no doubt of the equivalent, abomination, of the genocide of the Native American.

          • I too believe that we have been mostly well served by the Constitution,but I do take exception to the comment above that includes the bloody myth of manifest destiny as something positive.

          • Manifest destiny is the root of American Exceptionalism. Without “divine” guidance, white people would lack the moral authority to slaughter entire gene pools of human beings in the name of progress.

          • I did not mean for Manifest Destiny to be taken as beneficial for anyone besides the white men who “won” the west.

            I hereby submit that the world would be a better place if the USA had never survived if the Constitution were refused by slave states.

            In the infinite worlds theory in physics, I wonder what that world would be like.

            But it is what we have, our nation is ours, and we must use the laws of the land to take back our country, from the corporatist powers who have bought up Congress, the Executive, and Judicial branches. It is not too late, the Constitution puts We the People in charge, we just need to take control.

          • Seriously?
            The original teabagger, he fled danger whenever it approached, on his fastest horse.
            He preached fiscal responsibility yet ran up his debts to the point of sending his slaves off to work for pay so he could pay his debts.
            He went off to France to live the life he could not afford as embassador while Madison and Washington decided to scrap the Articles of Confederation and write a strong Federal government into the Constitution.
            If he was stateside during the ratification, his leadership of slaveholders would have stopped ratification in it’s tracks.
            But maybe you just kid me….

          • As an American Citizen,I reserve the right to disagree with anyone I please,especially those who are wrong.I pose the question to you as to whether or not you think someone who is self serving or supports those whose policies benefit a few to the detriment of many should be considered to be good Americans.Before you offer your response I would suggest that you give consideration to the fact that you are on a page frequented by those who know the difference between shit and shinola.

          • We all have the right to disagree with each other. It seems you believe you have the right or great amount of knowledge to decide who is right, self serving, or support policies that benefit a few. Both the right and left have those kinds of people. I read these kinds of pages on both sides every day. It is amazing how each side says exactly the same about the other side. Perhaps, that is why nothing gets done in DC now days. Every thing is completely party driven and damn what the people want. Like I said before, my post was about the author damning conservatives and/or TEA party members for carrying a pocket constitution. I believe it is the right of every American to carry a constitution in their pocket without be ridiculed.

          • Were you born fucked up or do you practice? After rereading Dionnes article I can see no part indicating that conservatives/t baggers are damned for carrying a pocket copy of the Constitution or that they don’t have a right to do so.Rather, the author laments the lack of understanding and sometimes the deliberate misinterpretation of that historic document by members of your seemingly beloved group.
            Now answer the question.

        • Isn’t that rather the view to which you lean as well? Certainly most elements of the Tea Party seem very much in favor of that idea. And to the extent they do not overlap with the Tea Party, I think we can safely say that is the underlying message of the “birthers,” as well.
          In any case, I believe the response was intended as a rhetorical device rather than as a factual statement.
          By the way, commendable post above (not this one).

        • I think it’s the tea party that constantly uses the term real Americans to describe their members and their beliefs.

      • So, any conservative or tea party member that carries the constitution of the United States hates the government of the United States?

        • Once again, I think the objection is to those who make a show of carrying the Constitution (or the BIBLE, especially) without – in the writers’ view, at least – understanding or even seriously attempting to understand it. Any tea party member or conservative – or anyone else who meets that definition – is the person to whose beliefs and fitness as a citizen objection is taken. If the shoe fits, wear it. If you object, feel free to do so, but object to what is written, not your own caricature of it.

        • Pretty much spot on.
          TPer demands to take our country back, and sack the government seem to worship the very document that created the government they hate so much.

  6. I always hear that the Constitution “got it wrong about slavery” another way of implying that the Constitution is something that needs to be changed or that we can’t embrace the value in the original constitution because it endorsed slavery. Can you show me the section that somehow endorses slavery or the oppression of any class or people? Can you show me the section that ended slavery ? The 15th amendment expands who can vote but says nothing about ending slavery.

    The real argument in the article above , even though it is never stated, is that the constitution enabled the Federal government to have unlimited power so long as it is accomplishing “good” as defined by Congress. This is NOT the intent of the document. Nor is there any interpretation by Tea Party or Conservatives to grant rights or powers to the rich. If the constitution were followed by Congress there would be no “pork” projects and there would be no policies or expenditures designed to “help” any one person nor any class of persons, rich or poor.

    • There is a specific amendment abolishing “involuntary servitude, ” and the clause about slaves counting as 3/5 of a person at the very least are the two “missing” sections of the Constitution you mention. That itself rather weakens your argument.
      It’s quite true the people who wrote the document never anticipated the kind of society we have today, and that a literalist interpretation might preclude some actions taken by the government, but these guys weren’t gods or saints, and I suspect pork-barrel politics is not a 20th Century invention. I don’t think the article says the Constitution advocates the “good as defined by Congress” (boy, would we be in trouble if that were what the document says!). I believe the article says that the government designed by the Constitution won’t work or even survive if too much power is allowed to accrue to any one faction, implying (at least) the right to prevent such a thing from occurring.

      • The Constitutional authors were also conscious of the need to ensure that the new government was not set up in such a way that it would encourage the tyranny that had just been shrugged off.It is only by deliberate convoluted reasoning that the document is currently being used as a tool that works against the best interests of the people.
        I think those patriotic authors did a fine job,considering that they were not fortune tellers.

      • The 13th amendment starts out with “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude”————–“shall exist within the United States”——
        And I think pork barrel politics happened right from the beginning. It was part of making a deal; you know, I’ll scratch your back and you scratch mine. If you saw the movie “Lincoln”, look at the deal making and bribery that occurred to get that 13th amendment ratified. Lincoln was determined to do whatever it took.
        I think one of the most important parts of the constitution is the preamble. They wrote a mission statement, before such a term was known. It contained broad phrases to outline what kind of a country they envisioned. The document that followed attempted to do this for the times they were in. There is no way they could have imagined the world today. That’s why we have the preamble and why we argue over the meanings of “general welfare” and “domestic tranquility”. And why we have checks and balances. The main body of the Constitution is about the common good and our union. The Bill of Rights ensures everyone of certain individual freedoms, another source of “argument.” How to balance the two. The fact that we can argue is completely American. Bludgeoning each other with destructive words , trying to eradicate an opposition, and marginalize certain people is decidedly un-American, in my humble opinion.

    • With one correction: Slavery was not endorsed. It was a hot potato that created a lot of heated argument and therefore removed from the original by Thomas Jefferson. It was ignored for sake of compromise.

  7. FDR knew exactly what he was dealing with and that its name was Fascism.While this article makes several points that are on the mark,its author E.J.Dionne seemingly has no more balls than any other writer to come out openly and call a spade a spade.Is it due to there being so many in our country these days who cannot differentiate socialism from communism or either of those two from fascism? Given some of the most recent egregious rulings handed down by the Court,it leaves a well informed and thinking person to conclude that specific S.C. judges don’t bother to differentiate corporate fascism from a Democratic Republic.They should be removed!

  8. And then there are the Tea Party supporters who use Founding Father “quotes” from the Internet to justify their positions without realizing that pretty much all the quotes they’re citing are fakes. The best government coming from God and the Bible fake quote misattributed to George Washington comes to mind, along with the similarly fake Washington quote about arming the people to protect against tyranny including from their own government.

    • I checked out some of their sources and have serious doubts that the book contains authentic quotes. My reasoning? I have studied the lives of those men. Some of the “quotes”are contrary to actual quotes and speech patterns are in question.

    • They will use fake quotes of ANYBODY without fact checking, and even when the fake quotes contradict WELL KNOWN facts. For example, one internet post (which was probably a pre-internet proselytizing pamphlet) contained a “story about” Albert Einstein with a long, very thorough defense of Christianity against atheism. In the fake story, young Einstein as a student confesses he is a Christian and successfully debates against an atheist professor. Now anyone with ANY knowledge of Einstein knows HE WAS JEWISH, not Christian, even those who may NOT know that he was agnostic about the existence of the Jewish God, although he used God as a figure of speech (as in “I refuse to believe God plays dice with the universe” and “The Lord is subtle but not malicious,” which are ACTUAL Einstein quotes) for the laws of the universe. But one fundamentalist after another copied the fake Einstein story, because it fit THEIR view of the universe.

  9. I’ve been debunking that stupid Fascist GOP Con talking point that “our Founding Fathers were Cons” for about two years….
    Where you guys been?

    • Most of us have got you beat by several years.We are merely recognizing just one more fascist facet.Welcome to the club.

      • Well, that’s good. But, I’m still way ahead of many on certain political situations, like the GOP and FFFC’s “long game” strategy mentioned in another article on National Memo…
        FFFC: Fascist Feckless Five Con SCOTUS majority….

        • It is good to know that you are vigilant. As I’m sure you are aware,we are often visited by those whose motives and values don’t match our own.

  10. My claim to fame has always been ” We the People ” . When? I left home to join the Navy in 1948, I was about Democracy and Now in my later years I find I find out about (Capitalistic Pigs,Plutocracts, Oligarachs, Do-Nothingers Republicans and Democracts, Etcs. of all shades) I think if the People include Critical thinking to their Voting style, I am sure they the People will make the right decision to the need of a broad Middle class accessible to everyone. I for (1) believe Democracy works, Social Security works, Obama Care works, Education works, Execrises works, J A Z Z works,keep H O P E alive. Thank You are the magic words in my book. I Love Ya All cause L O V E works. Mr. C. E. KING

  11. What would happen if the party of Lincoln actually read Lincoln? This from his state of the union address, Dec. 3, 1861:

    “Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit
    of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed.
    Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher
    consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection
    as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably
    always will be, a relation between labor and capital producing mutual
    benefits. The error is in assuming that the whole labor of community
    exists within that relation.”

    Lincoln was talking about slavery, but is it all that different now? One thing is certain: Lincoln would never survive a Republican primary today.

    • Lincoln wouldn’t be allowed to register as a Republican.
      The Dixiecrats who abandoned the Democratic party in the late 1960s following JFK and LBJ embracing civil rights legislation have become today’s teabaggers and have taken over the GOP.

  12. While they walk around with copies of the constitution groups like the Tea party engage in activities like voter suppression which is contrary to the very core of the document. The GOP is also tries to push a Christian agenda in government to appeal to the evangelical base, and tries to impose heir own religious beliefs on others. Jindal is a leader in using public monies to fund religious schools contrary to the separation of church and state embodied in the constitution.
    The framers had a vision of freedom and tried to exercise it in the constitution and the Bill of rights. It was very radical at the time since most countries were ruled by monarchs. Revolutionaries are never conservatives since by their nature they support the status quo. Che Guevara wasn’t a conservative when he helped overthrow as dictatorship.
    We changed direction starting in the 50’s when we ran around the world overthrowing any elected ruler who tried to get a better deal from our corporations. Our attitude was if was good for them it was good for America. but the pendulum never came back tot he center
    We are now facing a constitutional crisis from two sides, one a militarized nation who think God is behind them and two the1% who have control over resources and economic development. It is these two forces that will tear this country apart, and both groups think they have a constitutional mandate to do it.

    • Actually, there were some very good examples of Democracy around before then. Germany had a monarchy, but they also had Democratic Rule. Much of our Constitution was adopted from the one the Algonquin Indians had.

  13. “Conservatives love claiming that the founding fathers would support their political goals. They’re wrong”..

    But in their pea brains they would rather you be wrong than them so whether it makes sense or not.. Whether the results will heavily affect the population at large is irrelevant thus they find it advantageous that they become contrary to every opinion, every suggestion and every bill that doesn’t correspond to their warped ideals. Take their hatred of welfare.. The want to eliminate this… entitlement? Not taking in the possible criminal results from those who are starving and can no longer provide for their loved ones.. Not caring that the saved proceeds might go toward more war machines or tax breaks for the uber wealthy.. Not caring about their fellow Americans.. I admit that there are some who are taking advantage of these programs as these types also enrage the liberals but to cut everyone off for the activities of some is very wrong.. Compromise is therefore the best preventive.. Put these people to work in menial jobs of the public sector (cleaning parks, roadsides and office buildings) make it mandatory that they learn a trade and contribute back to society.. Open free child care that’s operated by the recipients in buildings owned by the cities so there can’t be any excuse not to work.. Make them work 4 hours a day 5 days a week and attend trade school 2 hours a day.. Soon these people will either learn a trade that will get them employment or they will get out of the system because it’s no longer profitable for them.. Create a department to monitor, investigate and prosecute those who work the loop holes and I can see no conservative with a brain that would refuse to accept this program. The majority of the needy would rather not have to go through the system’s red tape on a monthly basis but it’s necessary in order to feed their loved ones.. Make it acceptable to all involved.. stop looking at your fellow Americans as moochers.. The g’ment makes moochers by not requiring they become a responsible group.

    • I think we also have to be careful that there are actually jobs out there. As the Conservatives have lost all credibility with me on this,
      during the worst of the Great Recession. Yes, we can, and should
      provide a ladder of opportunity for all who need, and want to work.
      But, we should also be careful to protect those the most vulnerable,
      as we undertake the hard, and hopefully thoughtful, and informed work in this area. The head start program, which the Wingers cut the
      crap out of in the various budget fights. Is a excellent way to get the
      single Mothers, the greatest utilizers of public assistance, a way to
      get back into, or make their first foray into the work world. Gain the
      needed experience, in training, and learning to function in a work environment. And, as you say, here is where hard, smart initiatives
      can create a whole new set of opportunities for this segment of our

    • The thing is they want to deny help to the poor so there will be more money for the corporate and farm subsidy welfare.

  14. I’ve come to realize that E.J. Dionne is one of the very few people, on broadcast or in print, who has the absolute clarity of fact to put it out so clearly, so plain, that U can’t help but to sit up & take notice. This article in fact, leaves one exhausted, in that what we see coming out of the rite-wing ‘echo-chamber’, out of the Supreme Court, out of the mouths of the Cruz’s, Boehner’s, citizens, claiming their ‘rights’ have been ‘stolen’ or ‘compromised’, & U come to realize, they either don’t know what the F#&K they’re talking about – having never even READ any of the above listed, or they’re just plain flakes & kooks! How could anyone misunderstand what FDR was talking about, w/his warning about keeping transparent CONTROLS – in the hands of the citizen-elected legislatures, in other words, so that the few – to use his (FDR’s) words – “…unruly elites…”, would lead to… well, exactly what happened in 2008? Who want’s that back? Those who didn’t vote in 2010’s MidTerms? Those who wanted Mitt Romney? Those advising President Obama NOT to use executive action & settle the handwringing over banking & investment separation & STRICTER regulations AGAIN? All the above tells us that we don’t read enuff & to the point, as a Liberal/Progressive initiative, more American’s should be Liberal/Progressives, vote that same way & we will only have the problem of continuing to populate our Congress, Executive and Courts w/Liberal/Progressives & simply sit back & watch our nation flourish. conservatives won’t like it, but will be holding their nose all the way to the bank, in a nation prosperous, at full employment, w/renewable energies keeping our environment pristine & our ENTIRE civilization humming along PEACEFULLY forward & who knows – instead of all this childish, nonsensical war being waged, we can get conservatives, Israeli’s, Chinese, Sudanese, to go along w/us Liberal/Progressives on an interplanetary expedition, w/all the money (& lives) we’ve saved being at peace & realize THAT is what Democracy’s all about – opportunity for everyone to do something significant – w/out getting PAID FOR IT (all the time)!!!

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