The evolution of the Constitution

The Framers of the Constitution were not really revolutionists.  A real revolution was 1789 France, or 1917 Russia, where not only was the old order overthrown, but something entirely new was devised to take its place.

By overthrowing their king, the Founding Fathers discarded the old order, but they were reactionaries in the sense that they wanted a return to an older, even ancient political system.  They wanted the personal liberty of their Anglo-Saxon ancestors, combined with a sophisticated political system they would assemble from Greek and Roman models.

From sheer exhaustion, they failed to include a Bill of Rights, but it was quickly added, and is part of the basic fabric of our system of government.  The Civil War Amendments (13, 14 and 15) were an absolutely necessary evolution of the Constitution.  Our liberties are not based on our race or ancestry.  Americans have rights endowed by their Creator, which made them equal in His eyes.  These amendments were an evolutionary expansion of our liberty.

The progressive movement, championing a more active federal government, passed the income tax  in 1913 (16th), and gave women the vote in 1920 (20th).

It’s hard to imagine what this country would be like, without an income tax, or women’s rights.  People want the government to take an active role on their behalf, and such a government needs revenue.

So it’s been a hundred years since we’ve had important, fundamental reform of our political system.  The Civil War Amendments, and the progressive era amendments, were part of the evolution of the Constitution.  This is a different country than it was 100 years ago.  Is there not some fundamental constitutional reform that would be a natural evolution of our system?

Don’t look to Congress for the answer to that question.  That’s the question which will confront the Convention of States.

 

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