The “Myth” of the American Founding

Julia Shaw /

You should think twice the next time you invoke the Constitution or argue that the federal government is overreaching its power. According to The Economist, you may well have succumbed to “The Perils of Constitution Worship.”

Lexington, who writes about American politics for The Economist, attacks the Tea Partiers and our own First Principles Initiative, amongst others, for buying into what he calls the “myth” of the American Founding: “there is something infantile in the belief of the constitution-worshipers that the complex political arguments of today can be settled by simple fidelity to a document written in the 18th century.”

The Framers, Lexington explains, were but “creatures of their time” and their writings can therefore offer no guidance when it comes to tackling today’s problems. And, as he generously reminds us, that is for the best since the Constitution they gave us was resolutely at odds with conservative aims to restore limited government. The Constitution in fact sought to “bolster the centre and weaken the power the states had briefly enjoyed under the new republic’s Articles of Confederation.” It turns out that we defenders of the Constitution don’t even understand the document that we purport to defend. (more…)