Re the Robert Kraynak lecture Jonathan Rowe links here, Dr. John Fea, eminent historian, author of the universally well-received "Was America Founded as a Christian Nation", friend of this groupblog, professor at Messiah College, and all-around good guy opines:
"I am not so sure the founders, as products of a world that was very different from our own, should serve as such a definitive guide for so many of the modern problems we face today. I am always a bit skeptical when someone tries to suggest how the founders would react to 21st- century developments that would have been foreign to their 18th- century world.
I like his point that both conservatives and progressives appeal to the founders for support."I don't know if John would be insulted to be identified as a gentleperson of the left, but I do think that this points up the contemporary contradiction of the left---modern progressives alternately 1) disavow the relevance of the Founders and then 2) turn around and claim them.
Modern liberalism is only 100-150 years old, and not atall the same thing as the "classical" liberalism of the Founders.
If we're going to dump the Founding principles, fine--the Constitution permits amending them. But let's start being more honest about what we're doing. Modern leftism has a weak claim on the Founding, if any, and we need to start telling it like it is, or there's no point in studying our history atall.