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Europe's biggest economic burden

By Tom Toles

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Revering the Constitution

Yes we all love the constitution. Unconditional love is a little hard sometimes for a document that established the eye-poppingly undemocratic maldistribution of senators, including the fact that I personally have zero representation in the Senate, OR the House. But it's the founding document of the American democracy, so we're all supporters. Now the 'that having been said' part.

That having been said, here's a little axiom for you. People brandish the constitution and treat it as a sacred text only to the degree it matches their current political objectives. (Same with referring to the founding fathers as a pantheon of saints.) People mine history for political ends. It sometimes seems if that is all history is really FOR. Both sides do it. Currently its tea party time on this. Reading the constitution in the most restrictive way is seen as a method to derail even vaguely liberal policies from being enacted into law.

The problem is not the people in the street with signs about this. The problem is there is now something of a working majority on the Supreme Court which seems poised to use this strategy to repeal a great portion of what the American democracy has achieved over the last hundred years. The bludgeoned corpse of campaign finance law is a harbinger. This has the potential to get extremely ugly. --Tom Toles

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By Tom Toles  | May 3, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Economy and jobs, International  
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Comments

@BradG:

A republican government that allows universal sufferage is also, by definition, a democratic government. If you are trying to juxtapose "republican government" in opposition to "democratic government" (as SharpShootingPugilist was doing) then you can't use a definition of "republican government" so broad that it includes "democratic government."

That would be like saying: That creature is not a dog at all! Instead its a labrador retriever!

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Posted by: hejiheji0011 | May 4, 2010 2:40 AM | Report abuse

@QuiteAlarmed

You may want to look up what Democracy and Republic mean. Universal sufferage is compatible with a republican government.

That being said the makeup of the Senate is one of the last vestiges of our republican form of government. We have a had a steady march toward the democracy that the framers so detested and tried to prevent from forming.

The framers created a form of government with limited powers. Democracy will always trend toward government of unlimited power.

"The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret war with the rights of mankind." -Thomas Jefferson.

Posted by: BradG | May 3, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

SharpshootingPugilist: See Amendment XIV, Section 2 and Amendment XIX. They changed the Government of the United States from one in which only a select body of citizens are empowered to vote for representatives (i.e., a republican government) to one in which all people are citizens empowered to vote for representatives (i.e., a democratic government).

Posted by: QuiteAlarmed | May 3, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Tom, I know you may find this hard to fathom, but the Constitution established a "Republic", not a democracy and is meant in no small part to restrain democratic impulses.

Posted by: SharpshootingPugilist | May 3, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Sometimes I think the enduring love for the Founding Fathers is based in part on many of them being unrepentant slave owners and aristocrats concerned with sustaining the aristocrat controlled form of community (village to nation).

Leaders of bleeding heart liberal movements such as abolition, desegregation, women's rights, civil liberties, to name some, are quickly forgotten (if ever known) by the public at large.

If the Founding Fathers had been egalitarian wealth distributors, they never would have gotten to first base. Although those traits are what made the US the great country it is today. Some will disagree.

Posted by: sherm1 | May 3, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

What the Left fears concerning the Supreme Court decision on campaign finance is that business will be able to spend more than the unions.

Posted by: bobbo2 | May 3, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

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