Today’s example comes from Katherine Kersten, a fellow at something called the Center for the American Experiment in Crappy History. It’s a twist on the “Obama is not an American” theme so popular with anti-Obamaniacs these days. Big news, kids: President Barack Obama’s agenda is not rooted in Kenyan anti-colonialism. Instead, it’s rooted in Kaiserreich Germany! Behold:
Progressivism views the roles of citizen and state very differently than our founding fathers did. The founders anchored the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in three principles. They believed that human rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are inherent in nature and human dignity, and preexist the state. They believed that government should be limited, and that its primary purpose is to protect these rights. Finally, they crafted our Constitution to disperse power and curb its abuse through mechanisms such as checks and balances, and federalism.
As the 20th century opened, progressives like Woodrow Wilson — a former president of Princeton University — dismissed the Declaration and Constitution as outmoded. They insisted that America’s archaic political system was unsuited to solving the problems of a new industrial age. Ironically, however, they drew their own vision for perfecting democracy from a very undemocratic place: the imperial Germany of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck.
Dun-dun-dunnnnnnnnn! Now, forget about some American intellectuals’ fascination with German education back in the 1870s for just a moment, a phenomenon to which Obama is only very, very distantly attached, to say the least. Did you see what she did with the so-called “Founding Fathers?” First, presume that the early U.S. was a period of consensus rather than bitter partisan conflict, and ignore the fact that it was only the anti-Federalists who “believed that government should be limited, and that its primary purpose is to protect these rights.” Check. Propound a distorted vision of the Founders’ agenda that fits your modern partisan goals. (For example, use a term like “human rights” that the so-called Founding Fathers would surely have scoffed at, if they could have understood its meaning in the first place.) Check! Finally, and most importantly, completely ignore Article V of the U.S. Constitution, which is the one that anticipates the need to revise the U.S. Constitution! (Spoiler alert: checkcheckcheck!!!)
[Woodrow] Wilson, like many intellectuals of his generation, was besotted by the progressive vision. He scoffed at Americans’ “blind worship” of their Constitution and the limits it placed on government power. And he was impatient with checks and balances, which he viewed as an irrational obstacle to the policy changes that progress demanded.
He sought to replace our nation’s “limited” Constitution with a “living” Constitution that would “evolve” — under the guidance of far-seeing intellectuals like himself — to tackle the nation’s changing problems. “No living thing can have its organs offset against each other as checks, and live,” he wrote.
Oh noes–a living Constitution! In fact, the so-called Founding Founders believed in a living constitution, because they made explicit provisions for amending the Constitution of 1787. Here’s Article V in its entirety:
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.
And that process for amending the U.S. Constitution over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is directly responsible for the election of Barack Obama, friends, because I think most of us know that the most shocking thing to our so-called “Founding Fathers” about Barack Obama would be the fact that the Republic is governed by (in their words) a “Negro.” (It’s also directly responsible for Kersten’s anti-Federalist vision of a limited federal government, brought to you by the First and Second Amendments to the U.S. Constitution!)
I know no one ever listens to me, but Jeezy Creezy, once more so the people in the back can hear me: the U.S. Constitution is not holy writ, and worship of the so-called “Founding Fathers” is idol worship! (But hell: at least idol worshippers know what it is they’re worshipping, unlike Katherine Kersten.)