Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What Would The Founding Fathers Think?

I have read or heard laments from people who are upset about current affairs in the USA.  Very often they will ask 'What would the Founding Fathers think?'   Or, it may take this form, 'What would the Founding Fathers say?'
Usually, this complaint takes place at town hall meetings around the nation. We are supposed to believe, upon hearing this question, that the Founding Fathers would be very displeased if they 'could see what's going on in this country today'.
Maybe, maybe not.
We tend to forget that there were differences between those great men.  Some of them desired a strong central government;  others did not.  Some of them desired a central bank;  others did not.  Some of them believed that the people (the masses) should not have too much say;  others believed they should.
We know they would be surprised to see that women and non-landowners can vote;  that slavery is ended;  that senators are elected by the people and not appointed by state legislatures; that there is an income tax.
They would be shocked (I believe) to see that states use lotteries to acquire revenue;  that there is a CIA;  that we have military forces in combat around the world.
The would be saddened to learn (I hope) that we fought a civil war that killed more Americans than any other war we have fought.
Since there were only two hospitals when the nation began, I have no idea what they would think of a comcept called health care reform, or MRI's, or laser surgery, or dental implants, or DNA analysis, or nuclear weapons, or space travel, or television, or cell phones or computers. 
Or GATT, or the UN, or the World Bank, or NATO.
Or globalization, or air, water & ground pollution, or AIDS, or abortion, or test tube babies, or cloning.
This list could go on and on.  The point is that too much has changed for people to hope and believe that all we need to do is return to 1776. 
I believe the Founding Fathers would be as perplexed and troubled as we are.  There was, however, a sanity and dignity about their thinking that we could emulate in our town hall meetings.

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