The miracle of the Founding Fathers was not the Constitution so much that they created a document of self governance for people not of their class, and gave it away freely, no strings attached.
It was a gift!—but only, as Mr Franklin warned, “If we can keep it.”
This had never happened before in human history. I’m not even sure it had ever been contemplated before, but I’ll leave that for scholars to set the record straight.
This opening line opens up various forks in the road, several lines of inquiry, among them class as the Founders viewed it in the Colonies versus the rest of the educated world, and by comparison, in today’s world. Both are worthy of inquiry in light of what conservatism means today.
Then there is the nature of American specialness itself; our view of ourselves as exceptional, against the world’s majority view, held by its governments, based on at least 500o years of human history in which no idea even remotely resembling a government “by the people, for the people and of the people” could ever germinate and take root.
As I’ve written elsewhere, the “specialness of America” has always been viewed through two entirely different lens, one as a freak of nature, to be hated, and the other, as Man’s hope for liberty and rescue from a history of servitude to a master class.
This in turn begs yet another fork, the question: is America a miracle, and if so, from whose hands, the Founders or an Invisible Hand? Or maybe a collaboration? Billy Graham, who just passed away (RIP) believed in the role of an Invisible Hand, he even went so far to call it by Name. And I agree, only, it has been some years since some types of Christians have been invited to discuss this question with the intellectual right. As you know, on the key elements of liberty, I’ve even argued that Science and God are of one accord, than Man-the-animal needs and seeks it because it is survival-enhancing. But over the years I’ve noticed that the so-called intellectual right has never gone through that open door of inquiry.
Still, in all the years Man has trod this earth there has not been known to recorded history any other rising of a nation of peoples who became their own masters. As the lawyers would say, America was a “case of first instance.” And that was 231 years ago, and with our success, you’d have thought that at least some of the rest of the world would have stood in wonderment at what these people in America had wrought, and decided to try it out themselves. True, they paid lip service to many of our institutions, even adopting many of our terms, such as “Democratik”, a popular label from the mid-20th Century, to appease their masses. (“Hypocrisy is the price vice pays to virtue.”) But at no time did those states ever cut the ties between their ruling class and the ruled. In fact, some of the most virulent forms of governance known to history were brought forth in the two centuries since the founding of America, in part because of America’s mere existence and the threat it posed to autocracy’s 5000 year winning streak. (For proof, follow the genesis of modern masters candidates’ theses in the American academy, largely blaming all of society’s ills on the manner of our Founding.)
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