Robert Parry delivers this insightful take on the state of the American Constitution in today’s society. He does a good job in expressing the differences between how the Left and Right perceive the constitution today, and use it within the context of American political debate.
Especially revealing is how it unveils the falsity behind the whole fealty to a “strict constructionism” among so-called “constitutionalists” in American politics today. Of particular note is the point made, one I have often referenced myself, about how many self-professed proponents of “states rights” are eager to reference the constitution in defense of their political ideology, yet neglecting to recognize that the adoption of the constitution was in effort to curb (and in some respects dramatically so) the independent sovereignty of the states.
There are two major schools of thought about the U.S. Constitution. One from the Left argues that it’s an outdated structure that should not be allowed to inhibit actions necessary to meet the needs of a modern society. And one from the Right, that only a “strict constructionist” reading of the Constitution and respect for the Framers’ “original intent” should be allowed.
But the problem with these two views is that neither is logically consistent or honest.
While the Left tends to view the Constitution as an irretrievably flawed document (albeit with individual liberties that the Left loves), the Right has made political hay by presenting itself as the Constitution’s true defenders. The Right argues for what it calls “strict construction” and “original intent.”
Yet, even right-wing Supreme Court justices who wax eloquently about “originalism” will twist the Framers’ words and intentions when ideologically convenient, such as when Antonin Scalia inserted restrictions in the Commerce Clause — during his opposition to the Affordable Care Act — although James Madison and the Framers left the congressional power to regulate interstate and national commerce unlimited.
Similarly, when Scalia and four other Republican justices wanted George W. Bush in the White House, they suddenly discerned in the Fourteenth Amendment’s demand for “equal protection under the law” an “original intent” to ensure Bush’s Florida victory in Election 2000 — though the amendment was adopted after the Civil War to protect the rights of former black slaves, not white plutocrats.
Thus, the U.S. Constitution has become something like a secular Bible, with people using different parts to justify whatever their desired positions already are. Instead of letting the words of the Constitution guide their governance, they let their governing interests dictate how they interpret the Constitution.
But the Right — much more than the Left — has built a cottage industry around this practice, sending well-funded “scholars” back in time to cherry-pick (or fabricate) quotes from the Framers to support whatever the Right wants done.
The Right also understands that national mythology is a powerful force, very effective in manipulating Americans into believing they are standing with the Founders even if the history has to be falsified to achieve that emotional response. Many Tea Partiers, it seems, will eagerly eat up a stew of bad history served by the likes of Glenn Beck.
[B]y recreating the Founding Narrative so it jumps from the Declaration of Independence in 1776 directly to the U.S. Constitution in 1787, the modern Right has learned that it can convince ill-informed Americans that the Constitution was devised as a states’ rights document with a weak central government, when nearly the opposite was the case.
Read the complete article Here.
On a related note, is this must-read historical overview from Robert Parry on how America’s False History Allows the Powerful to Commit Crimes Without Consequence.