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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

We (some of) the people

What would America look like today if the strict constructionists had their way? A lot like the Tea Party -- mainly white and male. Or a lot like the group that drafted the US Constitution they profess to revere.

A column by the Globe's Peter Canellos
got me to thinking about what America might look like today if originalists like Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas had their way interpreting the framers intent.

Well maybe only Scalia. Under the nation envisioned by the framers, Thomas was only three-fifths of a person and wasn't recognized as anything more until passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments.

Under a really strict construction, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania would be the big dogs in a 10-state union (South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia seceded after all and there's an argument that could be viewed as treasonous under Article 3).

Voting would be restricted to white men over the age of 21. The United States Senate would be elected by the legislatures of those 10 states.

Our national defense would be a bit different -- no mention of the Air Force or Marine Corps.

You get the picture.

The gauzy vision of the past offered by the Tea Party as the days of individual rights and freedom was really a very limited world. The framers owned slaves and showed little regard for darker-hued skin people -- whether black, brown or red. It's an attitude that existed across a substantial portion of the nation through the Civil War until the time of the movement launched by Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and countless others.

So while our Founding Fathers spoke eloquently about "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" it applied to a handful of the chosen, the same demographic group now clamoring to return to the days of slavery, women's inequality and a nation governed by politicians responsive only to themselves and not the public.

Why in the world would we want to go back?

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