A LIBERAL VIEW OF THINGS: When conservatives become backward

This latest election cycle showed how little many people know about what the Constitution says and means. Everybody seems to have a certain take on its purity, its intent imbued by the Founding Fathers, its relevance to today’s events and, among other things, the Supreme Court’s rulings regarding certain aspects of the document.

Many people, myself included, were under the illusion the Constitution was written in an egalitarian vein, such that we had a truly representative democracy.

It was not. It was written by landed gentry who wanted to remain in power in order to oversee the "lower classes" in a fair and balanced way. Even though their original intent was to not reproduce a monarchy, there was still strong flavor of a protectorate in the creation of the Electoral College, the lack of women’s suffrage and the institution of slavery.

For a very long time, it was going to be only the landed gentry who could participate in the political processes in this country. A more thorough examination of this is found in Howard Zinn’s "A People’s History of the United States."

Well, it took us 90 more years after the Constitution was written to realize that slavery wasn’t such a good idea after all and that it conflicted with some people’s ideas about religion.

It took another 55 years to decide it was OK for the other 50 percent of our adult population to actually have a vote in the quaint notion that they have something to say about who makes the rules regarding their lives.

The framers of the Constitution didn’t give women the vote because they technically were property.

That battle is still going on with the continuing saga of Roe v. Wade. This argument suggests to me there is as much a conflict over who "owns" women’s rights, as there is with the moral and ethical question.

We currently have three Supreme Court justices who are members of the Federalist Society: Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts.  One could easily include Justice Clarence Thomas, who votes in lockstep with these conservative justices and hasn’t asked a question in court in almost two years.

This organization is an ultra-conservative movement founded by, among others, Edwin Meese, Ronald Reagan’s indicted attorney general, and Robert Bork, another discredited Reagan nominee who advocated rollbacks in civil rights legislation and the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Being conservative is one thing, but being backwards is something else entirely.

Even though James Madison co-wrote the Constitution and co-authored the Federalist Papers, which gave birth to this fraternity of neo-conservatives, he sided with Jefferson and the Democratic-Republican Party in opposition the Federalist Party policies.

The society is based on Federalist paper No. 78, wherein Alexander Hamilton says, "The courts must declare the sense of the law, and if they should be disposed to exercise WILL instead of JUDGMENT, the consequences would equally be the substitution of their pleasure to that of the legislative body."

So we now have a Supreme Court dominated by judges who think they are inviolate over the legislature and, presumably, the president as well.

In January I wrote a column suggesting the breakdown of the electoral process by the court’s Citizens United case, where corporations were permitted to donate unlimited funds to any political candidate or movement they chose without having to report it.

In the 2008 election cycle, donations to political candidates and issues just topped $2 billion, the most expensive in history.

This last mid-term election saw spending around $7 billion.

The Republicans, masquerading as conservatives, have been trying for more than 20 years to get this Federalist philosophy of government in place so that the people are no longer in charge of who gets elected.

It should be clear to all of us that those doing the campaign contributions want to be in charge — just like Hamilton and the other Federalist Constitution framers intended.  No wonder the conservatives on our state school board want Jefferson out of the textbooks; it goes against their grain and their ideas about who controls whom.

Turner is a retired teacher and industrial engineer who lives near Marble Falls. He is an independent columnist, not a staff member, and his views do not necessarily reflect those of The Tribune or its parent company.

 

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