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America is deeply rooted in tradition. We all love our founding fathers regardless of their political affiliations or our own. Even now, nearly 250 years after the founding of our nation, both sides of the aisle claim their own view's are the ones that are in keeping with Washington's, Hamilton's, Adams', Jefferson's, Madison's and so on. Immigrants that wish to obtain permanent residence in America must familiarize themselves with not only our laws but the names and actions of the past Americans that fought for the right to create our own laws and traditions.

So then why is it that we fail to realize the tradition we were left was the tradition of overthrowing traditions that no longer work? If that was not the case then the founders would not have dared fought in opposition to a government that was against the collective best interest of the people it was meant to serve, nor would they have had the foresight to give future Americans an AMENDABLE constitution! The very idea that governments tend to grow old and fall out line with those that have empowered them is represented in our ability to readily modify and update our government and laws.

This makes bitching about health care, education reform, gun control, or whatever issue is most dear to you, solely on the grounds that it's "unconstitutional" to do anything with an outdated issue a wildly ridiculous argument. Suppose a subject about which we are complaining was miraculously added to the Constitution despite your objection to it. Then you would no longer have a reason to complain because POOF! it's now in the Constitution and thus made to be constitutional. Saying murder is bad because it's illegal is hardly the best strategy to debate the morality of murder.

The debates over real issues plaguing our country will not be solved by quoting ancient biblical literature, the constitution, or out dated traditions. They will be solved through the gathering of factual evidence and a willingness to examine our morals, or lack thereof. America no longer argues over the best way to help people. We now argue over whether or not we should help people at all. That's our new tradition and it must be done away with.

Originally posted to GregWright on Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 11:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Glad that this was rescued. (10+ / 0-)

    Thanks to whomever does that, and to you for the diary.

    "No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up." --Lily Tomlin

    by paulex on Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 12:14:56 PM PDT

  •  Thanks, great read! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maybeeso in michigan, OooSillyMe

    Pertinent, to the point, and worthy of discussion.

    I think one issue would arise in trying to bring this into discussion with conservatives though; that they do seem to revere the Constitution as pretty near to holy writ, and they'd argue that amendments are (intentionally) really hard to craft and institute.

    I like your perspective better.

    Not all people are human; not all humans are people.

    by Jon Sitzman on Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 02:19:11 PM PDT

  •  I don't like this argument. (5+ / 0-)

    I understand what you're feeling and I think you've articulated it well, but we live in a constitutional republic. It does matter whether something is constitutional or not. It matters in a fundamental sense, because the constitution is the fundamental law of the land and we are a nation of laws. This respect for our laws is essential to what we call liberty, and we shouldn't take it for granted.

    The error isn't in respecting the Constitution, but in thinking the Constitution addresses all questions and is absolute in all its answers. It's not the holy, eternal word of God, and it was never meant to be. The founders certainly understood this, and took pride in the fact that they, as enlightened, rational men, were devising a flexible, human solution to solve political problems.

    So the commerce clause is balanced by the elastic clause, and posterity is left to make decisions on a case-by-case basis about what is a reasonable role for the federal government. The Constitution offers no absolute proscription against the federal government expanding its powers to do what is deemed "necessary and proper," even as it limits the power of the central government in general and reserves rights for the states.

    So the focus of our arguments, it seems to me, should be to question the accusation that something is unconstitutional, not reject the principles of constitutional government.

    If we let them define the argument as one between those who support the Constitution and those who don't, that's an argument we're going to lose in the arena of public opinion, and it's an argument we really don't want to win.

    Better to point out that the expansion of federal powers beyond a strict interpretation of the enumerated powers provided explicitly in the Constitution is something that has been ongoing since practically Day One. Better to remind people of Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt and the important roles they played in building and preserving modern America.

    Better to point out that many huge federal projects have been accepted for decades as beneficial to America and American prosperity and only became controversial when a black man with a weird name became president. Better to talk about highways and dams and putting men on the Moon.

    Better to point out the role that the conflict between federal power and states' rights played in the civil rights struggle.

    Better to point out the hypocrisy of insisting on strict interpretations of the Constitution and the intent of the Founding Fathers, while at the same time demanding the impeachment of a president because you don't like his policies and you wanted the other guy to win.

    Better than questioning the importance of the US Constitution and the rule of law. Don't let them define the debate in those terms.

    •  Thank you for that perspective. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      clutch1, paulex, Rogneid

      Part of my argument is that the issue must not be considered against our best interest "solely on the grounds that it's 'unconstitutional'"
      I fully understand the need for law but the idea that some laws should be law because they are already laws is a failed idea at best.
      Many opponents of health care reform are an excellent example of this.

      •  The way our system works (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Anakai, RiveroftheWest

        if something is unconstitutional, that is sufficient reason to reject it pending an amendment to the Constitution. If one doesn't believe that, then one doesn't believe in America.

        Again, I don't think we should be challenging the idea of constitutional government, I think we should be rejecting perverse, partisan, and hypocritical interpretations of what the Constitution says. I think we should be challenging radical philosophies that reject over 200 years of American thinking about the appropriate role of the federal government within the constitutional framework.

        •  The way it should work (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Max Udargo

          I do not reject the idea of a constitutional government. My thought is that our constitution ought to reflect our moral values that we claim to have. When it becomes necessary or apparent that the law has been corrupted or misinterpreted it ought be changed. Not our morals.  If that constitution becomes corrupted and is not changed then we ought to question it while we still have the chance.

          •  Certainly in our history (0+ / 0-)

            we've confronted such conflicts between our changing values and the Constitution, and we've amended it when necessary. In fact, the acceptance of slavery in the Constitution was clearly inconsistent with the values of liberty and individual rights that were professed even at that time. We eventually fixed that, and we've also updated the document to give women the right to vote, and to expand and protect the franchise in other ways.

            But I'm not sure how the Constitution would "become corrupted," other than by accepting corrupt interpretations of the extant provisions (or by bad amendments).

            And, unless we're thinking of different examples, the arguments I hear from the right asserting the unconstitutionality of federal involvement in the regulation of health care, or energy production, or its attempts to promote certain industries or technologies for various reasons, are simply bad arguments. They don't reflect the reality of what the Constitution requires or restricts, and they are thinly-veiled partisan attacks, not well-founded legal concerns.

            And I think it's important to focus on that and not be maneuvered into taking an anti-Constitutional stance. That's all I'm saying.

            •  Again I'm not anti constitution. (0+ / 0-)

              I'm against a law that is a law because is it an established law with no moral backbone.

              Those bad arguments you point out are very bad arguments indeed. That is why it is important we voice our concerns. Those bad arguments are winning over an alarming number of people and when views are founded on bad ideas the views become exponentially bad. What's more alarming is that, I would wager, many republican representatives don't really think the way they profess but they feel they must act that way to appeal to the idiots that were persuaded by the bad argument.

              Discourse encourages change. Complacency does nothing.

    •  Yes, It Is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      With respect to the Constitution, you said:

      The error . . . [is] in thinking the Constitution addresses all questions and is absolute in all its answers. It's not the holy, eternal word of God, . . . .
      I think the "strict constructionalists" and others of their ilk think of it exactly that way. It is holy and inerrant. Its intent is unchanging, according to the pleasures of their interpretations (which, of course, do change depending on which way the wind is blowing.)

      This is no different from the way that right-wing religious fundamentalists view the Bible, and the approach and consequences for the country are much the same.

      "A famous person once said, 'You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.' But as I once said, "If you don't teach them to read, you can fool them whenever you like." – Max Headroom

      by midnight lurker on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 09:44:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Anyone believing that a document containing rules (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        midnight lurker

        created by a monolithic committee of fallible human beings is not subject to revision in order to accommodate the basic needs and support the general welfare of current civilization is, in my opinion, an idiot... and a dangerous idiot at that.

        Were it not for the hundreds of years of grooming civilization and its expectations of where mankind's lot should evolve, the republican party would have dragged Obama out of the White House by now, strung him up from one of the trees on the White House lawn and hoisted a confederate flag from the Capital Dome. As it is, all they can do now is try to sue him for doing his job - something they are incapable of and/or unwilling to do themselves for no reason other than partisan rancor.

        Most of the problems in the revisionist thinking of neocons who consider the Constitution to have emanated from the hand of their God right after it was done crafting the 10 commandments is that they attempt to interject Judeo-Christian thinking into a place that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with political governance. They refuse to understand that this is not a country of Bedouin sheep herders with their brains addled by heat stroke; although if what I've seen and heard from some of their supporters is any indication, perhaps their contemporary brothers are in some ways worse...

        I believe that modern people can't use ignorance as an excuse anymore. The information is freely available to anyone willing to get it in the context of its creation. If the people who elect their leadership to office aren't at least as educated as their candidates, the body politic suffers for the folly, progress stops - and in some cases, regresses.

  •  The consittution is not a tradition (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a gilas girl, RiveroftheWest

    it's the law of the land. I think you could, and should, argue that the constitution is a living document not something handed down from god as it is treated by the self described "constitutionalists."

    I get what you are saying but the constitution is way more then a tradition. However it can be changed. It has been changed.

  •  Congratulations on having (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    a first diary rescued.
    Thanks for joining the dk conversation today.

    Welcome to Daily Kos. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Community Guidelines, the Knowledge Base, and the Site Resource Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.
    ~~ from the DK Partners & Mentors Team.

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 09:40:31 PM PDT

  •  "A nation of laws" ?? (2+ / 0-)

    One has to look no further than the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, to find the flaw in that argument. The 18th Amendment was the Prohibition of alcohol. Funny thing was, more people drank alcohol after passage of the Amendment than before . Two more Amendments were passed before the experiment of Prohibition was repealed by the 21st Amendment.

    Really this is the point that the author was trying to make. The Constitution is a living document. We can make changes, and if it doesn't go as we planned or hoped, we can repeal that provision. Yes, amending the Constitution is difficult, purposely so. Yet in the example I just gave, four amendments were passed in an amazingly short span of time! In our recent history the ERA amendment failed to garner enough support to be fully considered. Many people think that killed it. There is no "time limit" on consideration for an amendment. If we really wanted to we could bring up the ERA amendment for consideration again! We could amend the Constitution to end the prohibition of marijuana; an amendment that allows for gun use, but clearly defines how, who, what circumstances, how many, what type, etc; an amendment that clearly states a minimum number of days that Congress must be in session doing the Business of the Government. We the People decide; it is our document!

    Real change begins with us, the citizens of this country. If you leave it for the politicians then the change you want may never happen. This is the lesson Barack H. Obama has taught us.

    "There is no instance of a nation benefiting from prolonged warfare." ~ Sun Tsu

    by coyote66 on Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 10:48:41 PM PDT

    •  This is no more a nation of laws (0+ / 0-)

      than it is a nation of compassion. After what Nixon, Reagan and Bush did to this country, that phrase is a joke. Here's your 21st century America for you:

      Whomever has managed to buy their way into an elected office can look at any law and consider whether it benefits his or her "sponsor" and then either modify the law to twist it into being more in line with the needs of that sponsor or redact it should it inconvenience them or cost them anything. And they can sure anyone at any time for any reason at all - especially if it acts as a sufficient distraction to hide the fact that as a collective body, they produce nothing but vocal flatulence, inconvenient pregnancies among their staffs and gigantic holes in the Federal budget with their bloated salaries and self-serving junkets.

      And as for their so-called "constituents" who voted them into office? To keep it clean - as far as the politicians are concerned, after they settle in to their offices in the Dirkson building, those idiotic bumpkins can assume an unnatural anatomic position... so long as they're angry, stupid and uninformed, that's all that matters - especially to a conservative.

  •  I wasn't sure where you were going with this at (0+ / 0-)

    first, but well said.  The deification of the 'founding fathers' is a sad statement about our inability to think for ourselves.

    "Wrong, Do it again!" "If you don't learn to compete, you can't have any pudding. How can you have any pudding if you don't learn to compete?" "You! Yes, you occupying the bikesheds, stand still laddy!"

    by ban48 on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 06:06:22 PM PDT

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