Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Left isn't right, but the Right has left all reason behind

Take the Founders--and the Constitution--and America the Greatest Nation with the Greatest People and the Greatest Armed Forces and anyone who says otherwise isn't an American...

Most self-styled conservatives are Christians. Doesn't the Bible says not to worship idols? Yet they've made the Founders, the Constitution they wrote, and the country we live in into idols to be worshipped.

The Founders would be appalled.

Conservatives keep talking about what the Founders would say if they could see what we've made of their founding document.

That's an easy one to talk about, since the Founders aren't here to contradict you.

But if they were magically brought here and give a year or ten to get up to speed, here's what I think they'd say collectively:

The United States of America in 1790 had a population of under 4 million people, mostly farmers. In today's world such a nation would rank 128 in population, between the Republic of the Congo and Bosnia/Herzegovina. Its level of industrialization would place it near the bottom...maybe with the Malagasy Republic. And trade, except for a few luxury goods, was virtually nonexistent. The Atlantic Crossing took about two months, and a fair number of vessels didn't make it.

Same went for warfare. England found it incredibly difficult and expensive to wage war at such a distance. So the nascent America was protected by General Atlantic quite effectively. On land, stage coaches traveled at around 6 miles per hour over bad roads, such as they were.

Our Constitution was the Founders' second stab at a governing document. Remember the Articles of Confederation? Were those also divinely inspired? They didn't work so well.

It was also a time of turmoil and intellectual and technological ferment--nearly all on the horizon, though. And political parties didn't exist.

So the Founders crafted a document the second time around that did well as framing the needs of a small agricultural country with poor communications and no way to transport bulk goods cheaply, making nearly all commerce local.

It is an extraordinary idea to think that a document for governing such a nation at such a time would be, without modification, perfectly appropriate for a nation with 78 times as many people, vastly more territory, enmeshed in vast worldwide trade networks (including shipping in about half the oil we use from abroad), linked nearly instantly to a global communications network, dealing with a nation now embracing a multitude of religions (and nonreligions) and races and cultures.

Honestly, it's amazing that the Constitution works at all. But anyone who studies current events should realize that much of it is obsolete.

I believe that's exactly what any transplanted Founders would say today. They'd see our clinging to it as being as anachronistic as if they themselves had clung to the Magna Carta--another brilliant document for its day. And its deification is part and parcel of the tribalization of the GOP. If you don't fall down before these idols (Founders/Constitution/America the Perfect) or even say this document needs revision, they can denounce you as a tribal traitor and thus sidestep an actual debate over political positions they can't defend on their merits.

All of which reinforces my belief that conservatives are indulging en masse in a kind of illusionary nostalgia, while liberals are jonesing for gleaming utopian visions that are equally delusional.

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