Those in the United States can attest to the amount of conservative chatter that has come up in the recent past about the Founders and how they really matter to us today. Republicans constantly harp on the fact that the men that started our nation are to be trusted still today and that their ideas and reasoning is still valid. Those on the other side of the argument seem to believe that the Founding Fathers had good intentions during their time, but that their logic and ideas have become outdated because society has advanced far past what they ever could have imagined.
The men who wrote our founding documents had everything in mind. They knew that our society would advance and that the dynamics within our country would change. They wrote the things that they did because they were making commentary on the nature of humans. They discussed rights that humans are entitled to when they are born; rights that should never be compromised or taken away if at all possible. There are times when things happen that make us think that the Founders were a little nearsighted in their reasonings, but they have never failed us before. The only times that we have failed have been when we stopped looking at the documents that they left behind for us and tried to do things our own way.
The biggest constitutional question that is on the table at the moment is obviously gun control. The Second Amendment has been criticized in the past and is now being criticized for being outdated and overstated. Those who are in favor of gun control have said that the Framers wrote the Amendment without the anticipation of technology progressing to the point that it has today in terms of weaponry, and that they never really intended for civilians to possess the weapons that they do today. Those people have obviously never read the entire Amendment. The entire Amendment reads as follows:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Those last four words state pretty clearly that the Framers thought that this right was something that should never be revoked, lest the government become too powerful and start to move upon taking the rights of the citizens by force.
Besides, when they wrote “Congress shall make no law…abridging freedom of speech” they obviously didn’t see the internet coming. YouTube and internet pornography aren’t what the Founders meant by “free speech”. Which is why we should shut down the internet and set up a new, tightly regulated, controlled, and government approved internet, where no one’s feelings will be hurt and where no quotations will go mis-attributed.
In case you couldn’t tell, that last bit was satire, intended to illustrate how absurd the idea that a right can become outdated is.
Lastly, I would like to specifically address an argument that I see popping up much too often nowadays. A lot of people are disregarding the logic of the Framers and trying to discredit their thinking by saying that they couldn’t have had the best interest of the nation in mind when writing the Constitution because they all owned slaves. This is not true. Thomas Jefferson, one of my favorite historical figures, has been bashed time and time again for being a hypocrite when talking about liberty and freedom because he owned slaves.
We have to understand that these men lived in a different time; one in which slavery was just a part of life, especially in the Southern states. My thinking is that most of the men who wrote the Constitution knew that slavery would one day come to an end, and that they were not the ones who would have to address the issue of slavery at that point in time, lest it break the country in half too early on, rendering the country completely ineffective and vulnerable. The institution of slavery has since been abolished (even though the way that Abraham Lincoln went about the process at first was unconstitutional) and we have progressed to the point where slavery and segregation by law are both illegal in the United States.
In short, the Founding Fathers are still relevant today and will always be relevant. If men like Locke, Rousseau, and Montesquieu are still relevant, then the men who founded our country are as well.