Yes It’s True: A progressive differs with originalists

I learned a lot about the difference between progressive and Tea Party beliefs in 2012 when I attended a small political gathering in the Grand Rapids area for a state representative candidate.

After lengthy debate and discussion with these patriots, I came to understand the crucial difference between them and me was:

Tea Partiers seem to believe that the U.S, Constitution was a lot like the Bible, divinely inspired by godly men and inerrant, magically constructed at one brief time to stand for all time. Today, many of these people refer to themselves as “originalists.”

By contrast, I view the Founding Fathers as brilliant, ahead of their time thinkers willing to try an experiment in government, creating a system guided by the consent of the governed. However, I’ve spent a lifetime understanding that they were flawed men.

The first clue is that many of them in 1789 were owners of slaves, including such superstars as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. So when Jefferson said, “All men are created equal,” he wasn’t talking about blacks, Native Americans or women.

Furthermore, if the Constitution was such a perfect document, why did it have to be amended 10 times immediately in order to be adopted? Many more amendments, 17 in all, have been added to this ground-breaking governmental blueprint since then.

So the sacred Bill of Rights actually applied only to free, white male landowners at least 21 years of age. And it was only through later amendments that corrections were made.

So my view basically is that very bright, good men in 1789 came up with a radical document, to this day the oldest of its kind, but it wasn’t perfect. It needed revisions to keep up with changing times and conditions. I do not regard the Constitution in the same way many religious folks view the Bible, which serves as a guide, a blueprint for behavior and philosophy for certain people.

In fact, it should be noted, that the word “God” does not appear even once in the Constitution, despite what so many misguided people assert. Furthermore, the document clearly insists there shall be no religious test for anyone who wishes to serve as a public official.

The Founding Fathers did not wish to establish religion over government because many of them didn’t want to fall prey to the bad examples of state religion in Europe, from which we broke away..

The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights stand as important and essential documents because they have been improved and adapted to changing conditions over many years rather than serve as a narrow stern directive for all time.

So what this means is that a progressive such as myself continues to press for changes and improvements while conservatives assert things remain the same and not be changed, and sometimes even rolled back. They seem to be saying, with feeling, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

I answer with Frank Zappa’s quote, “Without deviation, there is no progress.”


  • David I too have had a similar analogy , so you have a progressive and a conservative and they are giving a task to complete ,the task is to put the round peg into the square opening in a box the conservative tried and tried until he gave up, now it’s the progressive turn he comes up examines the box and said well I’ll just drill a hole the same size as the round peg task completed. So then the conservative gets upset and said thats not what the task said to do you have to do it that way, so the progressive said their was nothing in writing that said you couldn’t find a solution to completing the task .


  • I often think that progressives attempt to change laws (and perhaps the constitution) from an emotional viewpoint instead of rather a logical viewpoint. Rarely do you hear about any changes to the constitution or laws in general until emotions in the country are running high. They seem to follow the principle that one person (or a very few) CAN ruin it for all. Gun restrictions and abortion are great examples of that. If a mom wants to keep the child and the child is killed by an attacker while in the womb its considered murder. But, if the mom doesn’t want the child and let’s a doctor kill it we don’t have a problem with that. To be fair, conservatives did that too when Bush was president and they passed the Patriot Act. It was maybe necessary for a very short period of time but was passed by an emotional response from congress with little thought of the long term. We really need to dump Twitter and Facebook for real personal relationships where face to face considerate THOUGHTFUL conversations can take place. Where we can see each others faces and have meaningful conversations rather that just vomit the typical media style sound byte talking points at each other. This country will never produce meanful change without first cultivating personal relationships with each other.

    My opinion of course.

    • So, Mike, are you saying that in the discussions about women’s rights to decide their own reproduction choices, that it’s the Pro Choice people who are emotional, and that the anti-abortionists are the calm, rational ones? Could have fooled me. You might want to re-read the editor’s cogent column.

      • Didn’t the man and woman make a reproductive choice when they decided to reproduce (i.e. have sexual intercourse, protected or not) except in the extraordinarily rare case of rape?

  • Actually, the progressive changed the school curriculum to guide the square hole into thinking it is actually round.

  • Actually commenter Buzz is repeating nonsense he’s read or heard from “conservatives”.

    If he could please accurately attribute his remark about school curriculum stating what course work (math, physics, intro to engineering, etc) and who said it besides him I would take him seriously.

    I suspect it’s like the rest of the objections I’ve heard from self-labeled “conservatives” who can’t factually say what something in the public school system their child does or would attend is objectionable.

    It’s more from the Josef Goebbels School of Political Campaigns: “ A lie told once remains a lie but a lie repeated a thousand times becomes the truth.”

Leave a Comment