Saturday, November 17, 2012

Whose Founding Vision?

I wish the federal government would just build highways and protect us, then stay out of our business for the most part. C. Michael Patton. Parchment & Pen

I cannot help but get cynical when conservatives start invoking a “founding vision” as if it is something that is easily determined by reading a history book and easily applied to the world today. The Constitution does not represent a monolithic vision. It was a compromise reached among a diverse group of people with many very different visions for the future of the country. Jefferson, for example, envisioned the United States as a collection of citizen farmers producing their livelihoods from the land upon which they lived.

In a post titled Is This the End of America? C. Michael Patton asserts that "[p]eople need to understand where we have come from so they have a compass to guide future generations." However, it is hard to imagine that many (if any) of the founders would have approved of the kind of standing army that America maintains today and the role it plays in the world. Moreover, even something we take so for granted as the interstate highway system would have been highly controversial among the founders because many thought that such things should be left to the states. Proponents of federal involvement in public improvements didn’t gain the upper hand until the Civil War. It's not forgetting the past that's the problem. It's remembering a past that never was.

The problem isn't just that people forget the past.  It's that people remember a past that never was.


  1. Sometimes I find C. Michael Patton’s naiveté on subjects completely astounding. If he really thought it was not up to the legal system to determine marriage, and he was going to determine it on his own regardless what the law is—why would he care there is a law at all?

    Isn’t his God someday going to nullify any marriage not deemed sufficient anyway. (Indeed, one could argue his God will someday nullify ALL marriages anyway! Matt. 22:30)

    1. Actually, we nullify our own marriages by stating "till death do us part". Once one of us dies, neither is married to the other any longer.