A couple of Sundays ago we were entertained by a letter to the editor, titled "McKinley and the tea party." The letter was offered, in part, as a constitutional history lesson.
We are 220 years removed from the historical events that structured our Constitution. But it's easy to find conservatives who are so clairvoyant they can tell you exactly what our Founding Fathers where thinking when they wrote our Constitution. These mind readers see the founders with quill pen in one hand and a copy of the perfect blueprint for nation building in the other.
All of these far-right history experts seem to forget the stumbling start our nation had. Our forefathers wasted eight years experimenting with "articles of confederation." Eventually, they agreed on a republic but the deep south demanded states' rights and slavery as part of the equation. Confederation had failed because of states' rights. But the Congress grudgingly compromised and made the same mistake a second time. The price for that mistake was paid 70 years later in a Civil War that left 625,000 dead.
That war was proof that our founders weren't geniuses following some divinely inspired roadmap to nationhood. They were human beings with all the failings and uncertainties that humans have. It's remarkable that our experiment in self-government turned out as well as it did.
The writer of that letter was critical of anyone who hadn't "studied" the Constitution. He started listing the Constitutional stuff we all should know, beginning with "all men are created equal."
I think not! That line came from the Declaration of Independence: not the Constitution! Besides, connecting the original Constitution to any thought of equality is oxymoronic. The national census, required every 10 years by the Constitution, said that slaves were to be counted as only three-fifths of a person. Even in 1789 you couldn't get more unequal than that!
Then the writer of that letter launched into a litany of right-wing nonsense that doesn't appear anywhere in the 1776 Declaration or the 1789 Constitution. He quoted things like, "electing only moral, virtuous leaders" and "free market society" and "not passing debt to our children."
I don't know what Constitution this guy was quoting but it sure isn't the one I studied in high school. He admitted to being a member of "Constitutional Advocates." Let's hope his friends in that group are more knowledgeable about our Constitution than he is.