Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Whose Intent?

When people talk about Original Intent, whose intent are they talking about?

Many of our Framers had very different intents as to what they wanted the U.S. to look like ... and very different motivations for supporting the Revolution in the first place.

Many of what would become the Federalist party seemed to simply feel about the rising British Merchantile upper-class: "if you can't join 'em, beat 'em"

Southern Manoralists, like Patrick Henry, whose conceptions of liberty and their place in the world in resisting both centralizing pressures and democracy were the same as the Anglo-Saxon Barons who forced the Magna Carta on the centralizing Norman dynasties of England.

Agrarian Utopianists like Jefferson had a different intent about our nation than did even their close allies ... Democratic Republicans like Madison.

Besides Solomon and, on good days, Washington and Franklin, who really wanted the U.S. to be the democratic republic it quickly turned out to be?

So when a conservative says they believe in "original intent", the question is "whose?"

And not only that -- but why? In today's inter-connected world (or even the inter-connected world of the 100th anniversary of our Founding), the policies of Hamilton or Jefferson would have had a very different affect on the common man than they would have in Hamilton and Jefferson's day -- so even supporting Hamilton's vision of the US or Jefferson's would have a very different meaning than supporting that vision in the late 18th century when technology was different.

So when someone says "this is the intent of the Constitution": there is still interpretation and questioning to be done "whose intent and why?".

Of course, when it comes to Jefferson and Madison, there is also the hypocrisy factor with which even they wrestled.

P.S. those of the Framers who did intend to have a less centralized government did not intend for their to be a such thing as limitted liability, stockholder owned corporations in the U.S. If you believe in original intent, you either get to choose corporations being allowed to exist but with centralized regulations governing them or "States' Rights" but no corporations allowed (at least at a federal level, no recognition) and stockholder's being fully liable in federal court for corporate malfeasance.

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