Original Intent and the Shame of My Generation

July 19, 2013

I was born in 1955, a tail end member of the baby boom. Too young to enjoy the sixties, too old not to have been inspired by them. Recent events have caused me to question that generation. I am not that much younger than the Antonin Scalia crowd, with their “original intent” delusions. I am not so old that I am not more at ease with the younger generation’s genuine presumptions of racial and sexual meaninglessness. I am delighted to realize I finally voted for the exact man I wanted to be my President.

I would like to explore the notion of original intent. Having read a great deal about our founding, I do think that I generally have an understanding of our so called founding fathers. I have written about the importance of remembering we got it wrong with the Articles of Confederation. And important to remember we fixed that! Important because the current political divide is the same argument that occurred after it became obvious that the Articles were not working. It is important to remember that the ancestors of the current conservatives were represented at that convention, and ultimately agreed to have a stronger central government. They lost the battle for a confederation of States, losing a second time in the Civil War. Fighting the battle again today is simply absurd.

The original intent of our judicial system was to maximize justice! It was to protect minority rights, while maintaining a democratic–majority rule–system. Current advocates of “original intent” seems to mean that we didn’t intend to have our current system of government. We did. I do.

I am personally much further to the left than is currently represented in our government–but I am completely accepting of that system. Largely because I have yet to see a government that more closely represents my views that comes close to delivering the justice our original intent. It has worked over time. Not without problems, but never problems we couldn’t overcome.

I can live with the injustice of the recent case in Florida if I believed he was found innocent according to the original intent of our forebearers.  But I don’t believe that: we have lost our way. We are confused about justice, about race, and about the right to bear arms. I am hopeful that this confusion will pass with time. I am having trouble waiting.


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