Patric here at the news desk. I’ve just been handed breaking news: all of the Founding Fathers of our country are dead. James Madison, the last surviving Founding Father, passed away in 1836, a mere 184 years ago.
Oh wait, that’s not actually news. It turns out the Founding Fathers have been dead for generations. Given that, I am baffled by the continual hand-wringing over what they want or what they meant.
As a nation, we seem unable to move past the founding of our country for some reason. There are people who have deified this random group of white men. On and on they’ll go about “the wisdom of our founders,” as if somehow these people weren’t just doing the best they could in the time they had but instead were supernatural beings gifting us all a government from on high.
They didn’t. They were no wiser than us in many ways, but they were trying to build something to outlive them. And, they didn’t even get it right on the first or second tries. In fact, their first attempt, the Articles of Confederation, led to such a weak national congress that its inability to raise money from the states (no taxation power) nearly led to the loss of the Revolutionary War when they continually were unable to pay the soldiers.
The second attempt of the Founding Fathers resulted in the Constitution Convention and the actual U.S. Constitution….. almost. Once the Constitution was drafted (with a stronger Congress and new Executive and Judicial branches), it then faced a perilous battle to be ratified by the states. It would require nine of the original 13 states to ratify it, and New Hampshire was the final state to make it the law of the land. That means it was not unanimous by a long shot. In fact, Rhode Island was the last of the original 13 to ratify the Constitution and not until 1790, three years after it had been drafted.
Of course, people did not love the Constitution, so right away the Founders had to promise to make changes to it just to get it passed! Massachusetts famously refused to ratify it until 1788 and only once the promises of amendments were made. Those first ten (!) amendments are now called The Bill of Rights.
Why the history lesson? Because I wanted to show it should not matter what we think the Founding Fathers wanted or meant, they gave us the ability to alter our country to meet our needs just as they did in their time. That was the entire point of the Revolution; self-governance. If they wanted to create a system of government people couldn’t change to meet their needs, they wouldn’t have created an amendment system.
It is our moral obligation to continue to amend and change our Constitution. The Founders built something they hoped would live on. To live is to grow and change. It is implied in the very nature of our Constitution to keep our country alive we must amend the Constitution to meet our needs.
I often hear from conservative blow-hards that “we are a constitutional republic, not a democracy.” Baloney. Our founders started with a republic (the Articles of Confederation) and the United States evolved into more of a democracy as we made changes to how Senators are elected, voting rights, and more.
We must continue to perfect our democracy and our Founders gave us the tools to do it. I predict in my lifetime we will see the following amendments to the Constitution:
1.) The dissolution of the Electoral College. This is the natural progression as we move toward a more representative democracy.
2.) Changes in the language of the Second Amendment. These changes will be far more specific about what is and is not allowed for citizens to own in terms of weaponry. I predict hunting rifles and small handguns will be specified as allowed.
3.) Congressional term limits.
4.) Supreme Court regulation and term limits. (I suspect clarification and specificity about the Senate needing to act in a timely fashion on nominees as well as nominations during a presidential election.)
Looking further into the crystal ball, I could see amendments at some point dealing with voting rights, primaries, and specificity of the First Amendment in regards to the liability of hosting companies for internet and social media, and specificity on what separation of church and state means. There could even be codified privacy in an amendment.
It is morally imperative we continue to amend our constitution because if we do not, it is not a living document. If it should not grow and change, then our country will go the way of the Founding Fathers, regardless of their intent or wishes.