The other day I spent the afternoon at my local Borders (a place I spend entirely too much time at), and picked up the latest issue of Time magazine. On the cover was a picture of the Constitution with the bottom of it appearing to have been run through a paper shredder, accompanied by the tagline, "Does it Still Matter?"
Usually when I see this type of thing it raises the hairs on the back of my neck… I mean come on, are we seriously asking if the Constitution of the United States still matters? But, in a newfound spirit of logically considering every argument, no matter how absurd or odd it may sound, I decided to read the article all the way through and form as many unbiased, objectionable opinions as I could. Needless to say, I formed one or two… okay, so more like three-hundred and seventy-two… yeah, I'm kinda opinionated…
The article covered 4 practical matters we're dealing with today that have raised questions of constitutionality, mainly the national debt, our involvement in Libya, Obamacare, and immigration. The point is made in each of these cases that these are new things we're dealing with that the founding fathers couldn't have anticipated or imagined, and that because of that fact, the constitution can increasingly be seen as outdated and as having outlived its usefulness.
If this was all there is to it I would be inclined to agree, but it's not quite that simple.
The one point that would have eliminated this argument is that the founding fathers designed our constitution to guard against human nature, not the advances of society and technology.
It was designed to protect us from ourselves.
Sure, there was no Apple or Microsoft back in ol' Jefferson's day. There were no television shows like Jersey Shore, or Hip-Hop stars for colonial youth to idolize. There was however the same type of behavior that we still see in the politicians and general society of today.
Perfect recent example- Arnold Schwarzenegger. A Governor with a secret, illegitimate child. Think this kind of thing wouldn't happen back in the days of yore? Think again. Thomas Jefferson, the man who literatly sat down and wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, did the same exact thing, except it was with one of his slaves rather than a live-in maid (yeah, there's controversy surrounding it, but it's pretty much been proven).
This is just one example. From countless events concerning bribery, treason, and the attempt to gain more power throughout our history, we really haven't learned as much as we think we have in the past 224 years (the amount of time the Constitution has existed), at least about ourselves anyway.
Sure, we've learned how to light our homes at night, talk to someone on the other side of the world, and even travel through space to land on other celestial bodies, but we really haven't learned to eliminate the fallacies within our own complex human nature.
I don't point this out to make our founding fathers seem like less than great men. In fact, what they accomplished despite their failings as human beings is part of what makes them great. I do point this out however to make it obvious that we need to be guarded from ourselves, from our own weak natures.
We all have weaknesses and specific things that tempt us. We all know right from wrong, but sometimes we don't always act like we do. The founding fathers knew this, and they studied and drew from thousands of years other people's mistakes and shortcomings to create something that would allow for the most freedom and the most protection from the corruption that power breeds as possible.
I do think that things need to be debated and thought about in different ways from time to time, even this particular debate. Progress certainly needs to be made in our world. But perhaps we should keep in mind that we may not be as high and mighty as we think ourselves to be… perhaps we need to keep in mind the fact that we all have the same potential for as much corruption and moral failings as we do for great accomplishments and impeccable integrity and honor.
Perhaps we need something to keep us accountable… something based on our human nature like the Constitution of the United States.