A constant talking point used by the right relates to the "Constitution as written", and it is commonly employed to decry progressive government programs that Republicans don't like. "Welfare, Medicare, Social Security, etc. are not authorized under the Constitution as written!" A classic example of this is George Will's article written last year on the danger of unlimited government. In this article he espouses a number of absurd ideas, ideas that are still being pushed by the GOP today. Will's entire premise centers around the debate over an evolving government, but basic facts demonstrate that there simply can be no debate over whether the Constitution must evolve.
Any time you hear anybody talk about the Constitution as written or the intent of the Founding Fathers with the intent to use the notion to discredit progressive programs, ask the following:
"Do you think women should be allowed to vote?"
"Do you support slavery?"
When they obviously answer in the negative to these questions, you have your immediate response:
"So, you support an evolving Constitution as our society progresses."
It is not that society always progresses - we only have to look at repeal of Great Depression era financial regulation and the subsequent collapse of our economy to realize that we can and do fall back to less effective methods of self-governance. Still, Constitutional Amendments provide clear examples of the necessity of an evolving Constitution. In fact, the Constitution literally asserts the necessity of change by containing within it a mechanism for change.
The rest of Will's article (I hope you didn't read it) is absolutely absurd, and it's possible to define progressivism in a much more appealing way.
"Progressivism is the premise that there are fundamental societal problems that can be dealt with through a social compact and collective action for the good of all. These problems include poverty, caring for our elderly, protecting our environment, educating our children, and regulating our financial system to ensure that it operates in a fair and predictable manner. The goal of progressivism is to promote a meritocratic society in which success is based on one's work ethic and ability and not on one's ancestry or ability to defraud the system."
America's problems are due in large part to Republican ideology. Our public debt, the debt that you and I and our children are saddled with, was mostly accrued under Republican presidents after massive tax cuts, primarily targeting the wealthy, were legislated. This is clearly demonstrated by looking at our debt over time. It begins to skyrocket in the early 1980s after Reaganomics became all the rage among conservatives.
We absolutely need vigorous debate on the role of government, States vs. Federal powers, the goals of our welfare programs and how best to meet them. However, any Republican who claims that we should use the Constitution "as written" is operating from a critically flawed perspective. If your worldview does not permit the notion of an "evolving Constitution", you are literally stuck in the 18th century. Elevating the Constitution to the same level as a religious text is deranged and should be labeled as such.