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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Reality Of Right Wing "Reading"

As I studied film throughout my life - and as well as intensive classes at college - I was continually reminded to remove all expectations when viewing a particular piece of cinema. After all, if you go into the theatre expecting something, and then are promptly given something else, your opinion of the piece will be so canted and distorted that you will likely miss the majority of context and nuance and be summarily disappointed, thereby giving a review to someone that is based on your own ignorance.

The same is true of the written word. In this instance, I am speaking of the United States Constitution.

When you read a document of this power, you have to exercise the intellectual honesty in reference to the time it was written in. This is something The Modern American Right completely ignore while claiming to understand it's historical timeline.

Former Speaker of the House and unapologetic adulterer Newt Gingrich can't seem to wrap his head around the past and the Constitution while he pretends to be the nations preeminent Constitutional Scholar:

In the American system, if you read the Constitution correctly — this is why I wrote “A Nation Like No Other” — if you read the Federalist Papers correctly, the fact is the Congress can pass a law and can limit the Court’s jurisdiction. It’s written directly in the Constitution. The Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton promises, I think it’s Number 78, that the judiciary branch is the weakest of the three branches. There is no Supreme Court in the American Constitution. There’s the court which is the Supreme of the judicial branch, but it’s not supreme over the legislative and executive branch. We now have this entire national elite that wants us to believe that any five lawyers are a Constitutional convention. That is profoundly un-American and profoundly wrong.

But this is more about how the Modern American Right views our most important founding document. This is about how they pretend that The Founders knew everything that would transpire after its signing.

I mean, talk about hubris to the Nth degree............

Despite what anyone like Newt would tell you, the Constitution is - quite literally - a living document, and I honestly believe that people like Jefferson knew this to be true. After all, if you are going to found a country based on liberty and rights, wouldn't you be concerned with the future rather than the 5 seconds right in front of your nose?

But what Newt is doing is indicative of the Modern American Right's desire to perpetuate the "activist judge" meme. By that, I mean that they want to see people preside over the courts that will push their own ideological bent. And while the alternate argument can be presented to anyone with a socio-political philosophy that aligns itself with the Left, we have to understand that the former favors the few while the later favors the many. After all, that whole "majority rules" thing can be a slippery slope for the Right Wing ideologue.

Let's not get too far off topic - though what I have enumerated here is relevant.

The idea of "reading something correctly" being postulated by someone like Newt Gingrich is a clear signifier of the framing technique of the Modern American Right. They want to force a particular narrative into documents like The Constitution in order to validate their own canted ideological stance. But the downfall of presenting this argument is that they will, in turn, claim that it is the Left that does this instead of those that presented the argument to begin with. Yet another aspect of Right Wing framing; claim that it's not you but the opposition that are guilty of the sins you perpetuate.

It all comes down to one thing th3 The Modern American Right refuse to acknowledge:


Are the late 1700s the same as the Modern 21st Century?

Of course not.

Were there "smart phones", internet access, airplanes, high speed rail transport, or even xerox machines back then?


So to claim that the language contained within the original Constitution understood the advancements of America on such a varied scale was absolute and unmoving is to not understand the nature of a nation, regardless of where you live.

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