THE BLOG
10/10/2012 12:12 pm ET Updated Dec 10, 2012

The World We Never Knew

Humans tend to quickly ascribe effect to cause on the basis of mere observation. Such tendency can have as consequence upheaval and even war. According to Burleigh (2005), the proximity of the Enlightenment to the French Revolution made conservatives of the time "ascribe paternity" of the former over the latter (p. 43). In the modern United States of America this is just as evident.  Fred Phelps and other members of the Westboro Baptist Church link the deaths of American soldiers, an expected effect of war, to lax views of homosexuality in the US. 

Modern conservatives have used this approach to maintain within their ranks the lesser educated and rational members of their electorate base.  In a June 13, 2012, letter to the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of State, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and three other Republican Members of Congress accused Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of having "taken actions... that have been enormously favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood and its interests."  The co-signers go on to list several of these "enormously favorable" actions.  Secretary Clinton was not the only one singled out; they also included Ms. Huma Abedin, a long-time adviser to Mrs. Clinton who, according to the letter, has a "position that affords her routine access to the Secretary and to policy-making."  The accusations were based on the connection some of her family members have, according to the letter, to the Muslim Brotherhood.  The twists and turns that led Congresswoman Bachmann and her co-signers to make the connection, as well as the irony, are best portrayed by Jon Stewart of The Daily Show.

Conservatives are attempting to recreate a world that never existed.  They insist that the United States is a Christian nation with no room for secular thought or other religions.  Reuters reports on the 2010 study by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, which claims that "[s]ome 158 million Americans were classified as 'unclaimed' by any religion in the survey." American perceptions of religion in the 18th century were no less or more ambivalent than with modern Americans. Even puritanical John Adams believed that there was merit on other religions. He includes the likes of Mohamed, Confucius, and Socrates as "sober inquirers after truth, ancient and modern, pagan and Christian, [who] have declared that the happiness of man, as well as his dignity, consists in virtue" (Adams, 1776, p. 3). Adams is proof that liberalism has always been part of the American core.  Dr. Matt J. Rossano writes in The Huffington Post that Alexander Hamilton, a conservative, believed that "[u]nreasonable religion was dangerous, but reason unchecked by religious morality was anarchic."

The United States of America, since its infancy, has been conflicted by opposing views of what makes this republic a successful one.  This escapes the understanding of many Americans, and that ignorance is exploited by those "persons elevated from the mass of the community, by the suffrages of their fellow-citizens, to stations of great pre-eminence and power, may find compensations for betraying their trust, which to any but minds animated and guided by superior virtue, may appear to exceed the proportion of interest they have in the common stock, and to over-balance the obligations of duty" (Hamilton, 1961, p. 129). Yes, he is referring to elected officials.

This is exactly what many conservatives are doing to the nation: placing greater interest on themselves and skirting the common interest.  This is why Hamilton warned about the dangers of "unreasonable religion."  If conservatives continue to ignore that the world they envision has only existed in the minds of some, they are bound to continue stalling the progress of the nation. 

The one thing that continues to stall social growth in our Nation is the very same artifact that put us in the political forefront in the world: our Constitution. Admittedly, this is not because of the document [itself], at least not mostly. The main reason for our woes comes from legislators and justices, such as [Justice Antonin] Scalia, who prefer to see [in it] an immutable document, even if it keeps us in the infancy of our birth as a Nation.

The Framers of the Constitution were not divinely endowed men who could do no wrong. They were not so enlightened over humanity that their effects would reverberate and forever set in stone the fate of our Nation. As much as I praise their ability to come up with such a wonderful document, I don't believe they ever expected for it to remain intact. Prove to this is the Bill of Rights and the other 17 amendments. Of the total, 12 were done when these men were still alive.

The age of a bad law or an imperfect document does not make it divine and immutable. Holding on to something that should no longer be only makes us look more imperfect and archaic. Steve Garcia, 2010, in response to "Antonin Scalia: Death Penalty, Abortion, 'Homosexual Sodomy' Are Easy Cases" by Mark Sherman.

References: 
Adams, J. (1776). Thoughts on Government. Raleigh, NC: Hayes Barton Press.
Burleigh, M. (2007). Earthy Powers: The clash of religion and politics in Europe, from the French Revolution to the Great War.  New York, NY: Harper Perennial.  Hamilton, A. (1961). The Federalist No. 22: Hamilton.  In Cook, J. (Ed.), The Federalist Papers. New York, NY: Bantam Classic. 

Disclaimer:  There's very little left in the Republican Party that I recognize as the set of beliefs and values that held me close to it since my infancy.  I would reconsider returning to the Party should it go back to the Pre-Clinton years.  Hence, I consider myself a moderate conservative.