What Would the Founding Fathers Think?
"The founding fathers are rolling over in their graves."
How can you possibly argue against that statement when it is presented in a debate as if the person making the statement obviously knows history on a level much greater than other people in the debate?
Even on a literal level, one cannot open a casket of a founding father, view the still corpse, and prove that while the casket was closed and in the grave the corpse was not rolling over. I guess we can thank Schrodinger for that uncertainty.
The silliness of any suggestion about "what the founding fathers intended," or "what the founding fathers meant," should actually be amusing. However, it loses much of its whimsical appeal when you realize that a moron who suggests he or she knows what the founding fathers intended or meant is allowed to vote. If enough of these idiots vote similarly, they can sway an election.
The mere suggestion that the founding fathers thought any one way, or meant any one thing, is ridiculous. We can look at many different elements in the creation of the United States Constitution, and even at one in the Constitution, to recognize that it was not this perfect document that was created from the unified thoughts of great people who all thought alike. For goodness sake, it has an amendment clause! Why would perfection need amending? Beyond that, it was ratified only after it was amended ten times as a compromise. The Bill of Rights would have had twelve amendments, but they could not agree on two proposed amendments!
Arguments over how the Constitution should be interpreted began when it was written. Heck, there were arguments over what words should be written in it, and even whether or not it should be written.
The debates took place over a little more than three months during the summer of 1787. Forty one men participated in the Constitutional Convention before the compromises were finally settled sufficiently, and then only thirty eight of the men signed it. Three men refused to sign it despite the compromises.
The ratification process took another three years during which additional compromises were made in order to gain sufficient support for it to be adopted.
Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison took to the task of writing The Federalist Papers to garner support for the document, and to persuade states to ratify it. The first Secretary of the Treasury, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the fourth President were being opposed by the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine on how the Constitution should be interpreted and what the words meant.
Still, somehow today, someone who has a high school diploma or a GED, and hasn’t read much since, suggests that they can see clearly what these great men thought as if they all shook hands in agreement after drafting it in short order, followed by all the states ratifying it immediately.
They do not recognize that even the people who favored it or opposed it, and who subsequently rose to power, interpreted it differently than one another, and did not hold fast to their individual interpretations of it.
George Washington originally sought consultation and advice from the Senate believing that was the intention. He grew so frustrated with trying to include the upper chamber in the bicameral legislative branch with executive duty, that he abandoned the process and began advising them of his intentions in writing in the form of executive orders.
John Adams wrote on several occasions that his position as Vice President under George Washington did not fall under the executive branch of government, but rather under the legislative branch, because, in that position, he was the President of the Senate. The intention of the words in the document made that clear, or at least to him they did.
Thomas Jefferson, who so adamantly opposed the federal government going beyond the scope of stated authority, made the Louisiana Purchase on implied powers. He had to because Napoleon Bonaparte didn’t want to wait around to make the sale. It was done through treaty in April 1803 and Senate ratification in October of that year to sidestep the legislative process he thought would be more Constitutional, but also more cumbersome.
Slavery, a standing army, representation, banking, authority over the states, appointment of governors by the federal government, and election processes were among the topics of debates, and the subjects of compromises, during those more than three months during the summer of 1787. That list is not exhaustive.
There simply was no common thought, nor was there common intent, among the founding fathers of the United States of America.
To even suggest there was common thought or common intent is a demonstration of ignorance. To purport to know that common thought or common intent is grasping for straw while drowning in a debate about what is best or what is right, with the hope that grasping that straw will somehow make an inane argument seem more believable and credible.
Some other things I've written about: