This juxtaposition is so easy, I almost feel guilty.
Here’s Time magazine in January of 2007, asking, “Should Politicians Customize the Constitution?”
All kinds of asterisks have been proposed over time: President Bush’s affinity for signing statements (more than 500 in his first term alone) fall into this category: when he doesn’t want to veto a law, he just asserts that it doesn’t apply to him. Biotech entrepreneur Paul Abrams proposes that if the law funding embryonic stem cell research survives a Bush veto, Congress should allow for another little box on tax returns letting people check off whether they agree for their tax dollars to be used for research. “This mechanism would provide active acknowledgement of people’s deeply held views,” he argues, “without compromising hESC research and development.”
On the surface these appear like classic democratic efforts to respect the rights and deeply held principles of minorities. But people feel just as deeply about gun control and abortion and global warming and, of course, war and peace. We can customize our tax returns to reflect the policies we’re willing to support and our oaths of office to reflect the laws we’re willing to enforce. But at that point democracy as a miraculous system of respectful accommodation shatters.
“Our Constitution,” FDR said, “was not a perfect instrument, it is not perfect yet; but it provided a firm base upon which all manner of men of all races, colors and creeds could build our solid structure of democracy.” That base becomes less firm when public servants, whether President or city commissioner, get to remove whichever pieces they dislike.
Here’s Time magazine’s newest cover. It’s dated — of course — July 4th:
Add this to the New York Times’ hissy-fit freakout over the incoming GOP Congress reading the Constitution in January, and you really get a sense how much the left hates this document. I mean, it’s like it’s more than a hundred years old or something. More important, it’s almost as if it was designed from the start to be a bulwark against “The Siren Call Of Tyranny.”