Leftists, "Conservatives," and the Founders

By:  Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.
10/06/2011
       
Leftists, "Conservatives," and the Founders

Whether leftist or rightist; Democrat, Republican, or Independent; “liberal,” “libertarian,” or “conservative,” anyone in search of a hearing in contemporary American politics is sure to express nothing less than unadulterated reverence for our country’s Founders. Doubtless, the old cliché that “actions speak louder than words” is not without its share of wisdom.  At least as true, though, is another consideration that, in spite of the regularity with which experience has born it out, has of yet failed to achieve such universal recognition: Some words speak louder than others.

There is quite possibly no arena like that of politics to which this maxim more readily pertains. Neither, perhaps, is there anything quite as illustrative of both the maxim itself and its political application as the ubiquitous phenomenon of enlisting the Founders in the service of justifying every conceivable ideological cause.

However, once we go behind the scenes of political theater, what we discover is that this trans-partisan devotion to the Founding Fathers is not what it appears to be. More to the point, what we see is that either the devotion was deliberately contrived from the outset or, if not, it is something that immediately gives way under the pressure of just a little familiarity with basic logic. For the vast majority of political actors — i.e., our fellow countrymen and women — their reverence for the Founders is either insincere or groundless.

Whether leftist or rightist; Democrat, Republican, or Independent; “liberal,” “libertarian,” or “conservative,” anyone in search of a hearing in contemporary American politics is sure to express nothing less than unadulterated reverence for our country’s Founders. Doubtless, the old cliché that “actions speak louder than words” is not without its share of wisdom.  At least as true, though, is another consideration that, in spite of the regularity with which experience has born it out, has of yet failed to achieve such universal recognition: Some words speak louder than others.

There is quite possibly no arena like that of politics to which this maxim more readily pertains. Neither, perhaps, is there anything quite as illustrative of both the maxim itself and its political application as the ubiquitous phenomenon of enlisting the Founders in the service of justifying every conceivable ideological cause.

However, once we go behind the scenes of political theater, what we discover is that this trans-partisan devotion to the Founding Fathers is not what it appears to be. More to the point, what we see is that either the devotion was deliberately contrived from the outset or, if not, it is something that immediately gives way under the pressure of just a little familiarity with basic logic. For the vast majority of political actors — i.e., our fellow countrymen and women — their reverence for the Founders is either insincere or groundless.

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Jack Kerwick, Ph.D. (photo)

 

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