More than a hundred years ago, so-called "Progressives" began a campaign to undermine the Constitution's strict limitations on government, which stood in the way of self-anointed political crusaders imposing their grand schemes on all the rest of us. That effort to discredit the Constitution continues to this day, and the arguments haven't really changed much in a hundred years.
The cover story in the July 4th issue of Time magazine is a classic example of this arrogance. It asks of the Constitution: "Does it still matter?"
A long and rambling essay by Time magazine's managing editor, Richard Stengel, manages to create a toxic blend of the irrelevant and the erroneous.
The irrelevant comes first, pointing out in big letters that those who wrote the Constitution "did not know about" all sorts of things in the world today, including airplanes, television, computers and DNA.
This may seem like a clever new gambit but, like many clever new gambits, it is a rehash of arguments made long ago. Back in 1908, Woodrow Wilson said, "When the Constitution was framed there were no railways, there was no telegraph, there was no telephone,"
In Mr. Stengel's rehash of this argument, he declares: "People on the right and left constantly ask what the framers would say about some event that is happening today."
Maybe that kind of talk goes on where he hangs out. But most people have enough common sense to know that a constitution does not exist to micro-manage particular "events" or express opinions about the passing scene.
A constitution exists to create a framework for government -- and the Constitution of the United States tries to keep the government inside that framework.
From the irrelevant to the erroneous is a short step for Mr. Stengel. He says, "If the Constitution was intended to limit the federal government, it certainly doesn't say so."
Apparently Mr. Stengel has not read the Tenth Amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
Perhaps Richard Stengel should follow the advice of another Stengel -- Casey Stengel, who said on a number of occasions, "You could look it up."
Does the Constitution matter? If it doesn't, then your Freedom doesn't matter. July 4th - Thomas Sowell - Townhall Conservative