George Chapman observed, in 1605, “Young men think old men are fools.” So do American progressives young and old. They are the sort to daily spit into the wind of “all past historical experience” demanding the abandonment of everything American—especially our “horse and buggy” Constitution and the Judeo-Christian Moral Law that undergirds and upholds it—for everything Old World and yet, unfathomably, “new!” “brilliant!” “liberating!” “democratic!” and “futuristic!”
But not every brilliant forward looking man looks at America’s political and moral heritage and thinks: “How parochial! How passe!” British Prime Minister William Gladstone, unlike our progressive friends, knew excellence when he saw it, and better yet, was humble enough to praise the best constitution there ever was as ‘the best constitution there ever was,’ or as he put it,”the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.” American statesmen and political philosopher Fisher Ames was on the same page when he called “This constitution … comparatively perfect.” How perfect? “[N]o subsisting government, no government which I have ever heard of, will bear a comparison with it.”
Perhaps this was because God had a hand in it, as some believed … and many still do. The man America fondly identifies as Father of Our Country, George Washington, in the week leading up to the Constitutional Convention confided to Gouvereur Morris his earnest hope that only the best Constitution, one they could afterward with integrity recommend and defend, would be offered to the people. He said with his typical faith in the Providential role of America: “The event is in the hand of God.”
Early on in the convention’s deliberations James Madison, later dubbed the Father of the Constitution, was quick to come to the same conclusion. He thought: “[Just the fact] that we are now here, exercising our tranquil and free deliberations on the subject,” is “a miracle.” Federalist man, Alexander Hamilton, was constrained to say, “perhaps it is a miracle that we are now met.” Months later, Patrick Henry at the ratifying convention in Virginia added his conviction of this tranquil, free meeting of minds: “a miracle it was.” As to the finished project, Madison, in a letter to Jefferson, after summing up the Constitution’s principle features and advantages paused to observe: “Adding to these considerations the natural diversity of human opinions on all new and complicated subjects, it is impossible to consider the degree of concord which ultimately prevailed as less than a miracle.” Several decades later Madison’s conviction hadn’t faded a bit. He called the “happy Union of these States a wonder; their Constitution a miracle.”
Similar statements run far and wide during that era among government officials, educators, religious teachers, and common citizens. God was in it. Divine Providence had intervened. America itself had been hid from the eyes of nations as if to be preserved for the coming forth of a great work. And they meant it. No wonder then that Madison went on to warn about that wonderful Union and that miraculous Constitution: “Woe to the ambition that would meditate the destruction of either!”
But of course, there are always ambitious men and conspiratorial movements that do contemplate pulling down that which God and good men set up … and progressives, or rather socialists, lead the pack. Two of their chief weapons in their battle plan against America: 1. rewrite American history so as to convince generations of Americans that what the Founders wrought was a democracy rather than a republic (which nearly every public school educated kid for several generations now believes is the absolute truth), and once accomplished, as Marx put it, “Win the battle of democracy!”
Moving in that direction are two major attacks on the Constitution among so many others: First, the 17th Amendment, passed back in 1913, did away with that marvelous check for state rights wherein United States senators were elected by their respective state legislatures (and thus accountable to their state government’s interests) in favor of a popular vote by the people (making them but another version of the House, undermining that division of power between “the few” and “the many” and the national government and the state stage governments — a bad, bad mistake we are still paying for); and second, a movement to abandon the electoral college in favor of a national popular vote for President. This latter idea, if it succeeds (and it is gathering steam) will force every state elector to turn over his votes to the national popular winner rather than the candidate that the people of his state favored. The result, in fact, will be to tilt the power curve in favor of the big city, big state liberal vote.
A bad idea—but then foolishly turning our back on the Founder’s miracle document in the name of “progress” always is.
Steve Farrell is the Founder and Editor In Chief of The Moral Liberal.