Given the U.S. Congress’ catatonic state and nearly catastrophic impact of the debt limit debacle, it’s time for Americans to realistically reflect on the fundamental vision and the specific language provided in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
We are handicapped in our understanding of the U.S. Constitution, though, by the same parochialism that prevents an accurate or, at least, helpful read of the bible.
For me, I simply look at the quotes that are supposed to have been uttered by the man himself, Jesus (everything else is simply written by humans with a control agenda and, hence, rendered insignificant or harmful)… and while others read about evil… I see and read no words of condemnation or judgement, no demands toward retribution… no admonition to restrict the rights of those with whom we have lifestyle or life-direction disagreements…
Nope, when I read the bible, I read about judging not lest ye be judged. I read about helping the leper. I read about forgiving and not stoning the whore.
And, when it comes to earthly governance, Jesus made clear that this was not the realm for interference by a higher power or a field for religion to assert itself… Nope. What was said was to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s… pay your taxes, accept your earthly responsibilities…
Similarly, we Americans fail to get that our founding documents call for a “big L” Liberal approach to governance.
Over the last thirty years, conservatives have largely set the terms of this debate — demanding that “strict constructionists” (by conservatives’ own interpretation) be appointed to our justice system. Conservatives call into question the constitutionality of U.S. programs, policies, and laws affecting everything – health care, equality, education, security of food and shelter, and more.
Read the Constitution again in regard to government and community and see that our founding documents clearly set forth an indispensable social contract that binds us as a people and as a nation, establishing justice and promoting the general welfare.
Contrary to conservative and libertarian myth, none of us are entirely — or even remotely — “self made.” The hyper-individualism championed by the right ignores the profound influence that our social and policy constructs have on our ability to succeed and to pursue “Life, Liberty, and Happiness.”
The word “individual” doesn’t even appear in the Preamble to the Constitution… NOT ONCE! It says “We the People… in Order to form a more perfect Union…”
The Founding Fathers understood that the Union was not perfect, and so they called upon future generations to constantly strive toward that unattainable goal. Their moral vision was one of community, not of a loose association of coldly rational self-interested economic actors, with special privileges forever reserved to favored individuals or groups.
It is time in this period of right-wing darkness for Liberals to retake the moral high ground in the debate about the meaning and intent of our founding documents.
It is Liberals’ responsibility to reframe the debate and lead us to a more just, more equal, freer, and more communal America.