Opinion: On the Founders, the Congress and the people

Where the “demigods” worked.

The distance between Independence Hall and the U.S. Capitol is about 123 miles as the crow flies, or 241 years as the world turns.

I had occasion to visit both buildings last month and, with the additional cue of the Independence Day holiday, have been thinking about what is different about the Congresses that met at each.

We tend to view the men in Philadelphia who set us on a course for liberty, first in 1776 and then 11 years later at what became the Constitutional Convention, as practically otherworldly. “An assembly of demigods” is how Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to John Adams, described those who were drafting the Constitution, while both of them served as ambassadors in Europe.

Had the Framers been actually supernatural, they mightn’t have hit such tragic impasses as the one over slavery (though their inability to lift that curse cannot diminish the historic, necessary steps they took to create a free land in which the subjugation of others was such an obvious contradiction it could not stand forever). But the system they built survives, and we celebrate them still, mostly because of one key insight: Checks and balances on human power are vital because human nature is both flawed and immutable.

Which brings us to the current Congress.

Meet with individual members of today’s House or Senate, and you feel the legislative branch, with its dismal approval rating, gets a bad rap. They are generally more thoughtful and pleasant in person than the bombast and over-simplification we see when they are, alone or in groups, in front of a camera. (Their friendlier personal touch, as much as gerrymandering in my view, accounts for their high rate of re-election despite the public’s low opinion of them collectively.)

To watch the leaders of either party strut and snipe at each other at press conferences — I watched top Senate Republicans and Democrats alike do both just last week — is to be reminded how much of politics is theater. And to remember how much that has changed as well.

Two scenes from 1770s Philadelphia: George Washington leaving the room when John Adams rose to make the case for him as leader of the Continental Army; and Jefferson sitting in the same room, silently, as delegates critiqued, debated and edited his draft Declaration of Independence. Each story speaks to a degree of modesty and humility almost extinct from our present politics, in which proclaiming most fervently (and loudly) oneself to be right makes might.

This is not to suggest the Founders were without ego or ambition. Far from it. But even if the stories about Washington and Jefferson are apocryphal, consider why they would have been concocted. As was often the case with the revolutionary generation — and this is not unlike our current crop of political leaders — they knew they were posing for the public and posterity. Back then, it seems, they thought humility and modesty would be the best look.

Recall, the Framers built a government with checks and balances because they knew better than to expect men, particularly those with power, to be angels. It was the people from whom they expected, or at least wished for, virtue. What does it say about us that we so often reward the opposite?

Reader Comments 0

191 comments
cepudozut
cepudozut

my friend's step mother gets 95 per hour on the internet, she has been unemployed for ten months but the previous month her pay-check was 16080 only working on the internet four hours per day. check

(っ◔◡◔)っ http://www.jobsheat.com

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Pick your poison, dems!

http://tinyurl.com/yaw4rh7u

Chase it with a bottle of Ensure. 

The DCCC might wanna ask themselves WHY dem voters are having to see  the other guys.

Because the Dems SUCK and have offered nothing NEW in decades? Nothing other than divide the electorate,  dump on the wealthy, and dump over and on  the hard-working middle class?

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

"Checks and balances on human power are vital because human nature is both flawed and immutable."


Wish the current congress would get their act together and act like a proper check and balance entity.  They couldn't do it even under Obama, so how can they do it under Trump? 


The courts are leading the way to keep Trump in check, but he still wants to be dictator in chief. It seems like he is surprised whenever he finds out there are three equal branches in government. (And of course, he's lashed out at the judiciary numerous times.) 

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@LogicalDude

Where do you see signs of Trump wanting to be a dictator?

It was Obama who issued the lawless Executive Orders that were in some part struck down by the courts.

The only challenge to Trump thus far has been knocked down by SCOTUS.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@FIGMO2 Or. 


People who do not want to needlessly suffer and prematurely die when their affordable healthcare is removed? 


Seems more logical to me than just being "crabbygrasses".

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@LogicalDude @FIGMO2

Or?

Perennial malcontents lookin' to get their mugs shot.

You KNOW such weeds exist, do you not?

Look at those smiles. They appear to be enjoying themselves.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

PeeWee seems a bit hostile today.

Other than your ire, what's up, PeeWee? 

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Somehow I don't see the framers as men who sought to socially engineer the crop, but rather to prepare the soil so that man could grow his own.

Weeds and wildflowers persist in this, our "Great Society".

I consider myself a wildflower among the weeds.

LUVd your opening paragraph, Kyle.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@FIGMO2

That's a good analogy.

Do those weeds have their hands out?

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@FIGMO2

President Lyingscumbag considers himself the greatest thing since sliced bread. Because he considers himself that, however, doesn't make it so. FYI

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@Eye wonder @FIGMO2

Personally, I don't see him that way. I've witnessed presidents that were good but not great.

You may have Trump confused with Obama, THE ONE!

schnirt


AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

"US nonfarm payrolls total 222,000 in June vs 179,000 expected"

Deal with it.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@AndyManUSA#45

That has more to do with President Obama, andy the whining fascist, than it does with President Lyingscumbag.

DeepStateDawg
DeepStateDawg

@AndyManUSA#45 Deal with what? This is a continuation of a trend that has been in place for quite a while. 


If employment is so good, why all the complaining, crying, doom, gloom, etc...


Why is Trump trying to scare everyone about jobs?

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

We no doubt have a problem with voter fraud.  Studies show recently that as many as 5 million illegals may have voted.

Trump puts together a commission but states are resisting the requested information.

The obvious answer is the commission lay out a process for states to verify their voter rolls with commission oversight.

If states resist, and you can see California, Oregon, and others doing so, then Congress needs to find a way to cut off funds.  Big funds so the state has no choice but to comply.

This is a bigger problem than foreign states trying to influence elections.

These illegal voters are skewing elections.

And you LibProgs, save us the gerrymandering line. 

DeepStateDawg
DeepStateDawg

@JohnnyReb Studies? Which studies? 


You have no idea what you're talking about. 


Not to mention the glaring fact that if a "commission" appointed by a Democratic President had requested voter roles of all the states to investigate dubious charges of fraud, that no state in the country had any evidence occurred, the screaming from the GOP would shatter all the glass in all the skyscrapers in all the buildings all over the world. 


Rush would just fall over and die. 

skruorangeclown
skruorangeclown

Doesn't explain how we ended up with a psychotic dufus as president who makes a fool of himself every day.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@skruorangeclown

We'll work on an answer for you, but how about you telling us how we ended up with Obama?

Not once, but twice after he showed the first time his complete incompetence as a leader.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

I don't know where these misinformed libs are getting their false information but for the record Trump when asked about Russian meddling said that "they probably did but others could have been involved as well". How do I know? I watched and heard him on television. These clowns are either making stories up or their news sources are making them up.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think it was Russia, and I think it could have been other people in other countries. It could have been a lot of people interfered. Barack Obama, when he was president, found out about this, in terms of if it were Russia, found out about it in August. Now, the election was in November. That’s a lot of time. He did nothing about it. Why did he do nothing about it? They say he choked. Well, I don’t think he choked. I think what happened is he thought Hillary Clinton was going to win the election, and he said, let’s not do anything about it.

nawudebit
nawudebit

our neighbor's aunt gets 77 an hour on the internet. she has been unemployed for 2 months. the previous month her pay check was 21731 just working at home a few hours a week, check this link

>>>>>>https://tinyurl.com/z5m5hl3

nawudebit
nawudebit

my friend's half sister makes 77 per hour on the internet... she's been fired from work for nine months and last month her pay was 19067 just working on the internet a few hours. see

>>>>>>https://tinyurl.com/z5m5hl3

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Electric cars, that have to be charged by fossil fuels. 😂

These rat fascists do enjoy their futile gestures.

Stupid!

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

I am smart enough to know that electric cars, when compared to gasoline driven vehicles, are a negative energy gain. And that doesn't even address the waste produced by the batteries.

It is an idiot's form of transportation.

Mindless!

breckenridge
breckenridge

Putting missiles back in Poland, squeezing their natural gas and oil export

Since you mentioned oil exports there was news on that front today. Volvo is the first major car manufacturer that will come out with a full line of hybrid and completely electric cars, starting in 2019.


I'm 100% for anything that may potentially hurt the scum-of-the-earth Saudi royal family.  Well done Volvo. 

breckenridge
breckenridge

Today Trump took a soft pedal approach to Russia's meddling in our last election.  That's because he needs to get cooperation from cooperation from Putin on North Korea.  The problem, of course, is that the ex-KBG thug Putin is a lying weasel.  He may agree to help with North Korea, but then may not help at all, or may even make the situation worse.


This has nothing to do with Trump.  Regardless of who is US president, Putin is going to remain an underhanded little punk piece of crap.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@breckenridge 

Unless you failed to listen, Trump has not gone easy on the pooter and Russia in his speeches.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@SGTGrit @breckenridge 

I was talking only about Trump's speech today. 


But there is no question as to whether Russia tried to meddle in our election.  They've done it here, they've done the same thing in France, they've done the same thing over and over.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

What is the lying scumbag doing about it, andy the whining fascist??

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@breckenridge @SGTGrit 
 

Fact is we utilize cyberspace to meddle and disrupt in adversarial countries as well. Been doing so for years. Prior to the internet we used "{radio free Europe" to pipe in our message to Eastern Soviet controlled Europe during the cold war. You should have heard Hanoi Hannah during Vietnam out in the bush.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Putting missiles back in Poland, squeezing their natural gas and oil exports, shooting down their allies fighter jets, re arming the US military.

Got any other stupid questions, clown?

Dumb!

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

The far-left is indeed a clear and present danger to the United States. I've never been more convinced.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@SGTGrit 

I see you're on your propaganda pedestal this evening, showing your Fox News junkie chops.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

O.T. Beautiful children stabbed to death by their crazed mother in Loganviille, Ga.(lived there years ago). We do need to know who the hell we allow entry into our country.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

During the Republican primaries, the lying rat fascist media called Trump a liberal. Now that he is in office, he dismantles liberalism.

You are going to be out of power for ages.

I can't blame you for whining about it.

Sad!

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Better go check your source, little punk, the intelligence agencies fake news has been retracted.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

These idiot, clueless liberals were counting the Coast Guard amongst their proof.

Ignorant!