Devotion is an overwhelming feeling of strong love, or loyalty, to a cause or person that is not unlike religious fervor. If one listens to Republicans, teabaggers, the religious right, and conservatives in general, their devotion to the U.S. Constitution is second only to their devotion to their religion they conflate with the nation’s founding document and law of the land. However, their so-called devotion is not to the Constitution either in principle or its current form, but to a minority of its parts based on their beliefs and policies that are decidedly contrary to most of the document they claim sole ownership of.
Many conservatives are adamantly opposed to most of the Constitution’s amendments, and even those they hold near and dear to their hearts depend on their distorted interpretation including those in the Bill of Rights they would amend tomorrow if they were able. In fact, there is a desire among many extreme conservatives to hold a new Constitutional Convention to craft a new document that adheres strictly to their vision of a nation the Founding Fathers never intended. Even if they are not advocating a new Constitution, they demand the nation return to the original intent of the Constitution’s framers and therein lies their opposition to most of the Constitution’s Amendments.
There was never a better example of conservative’s demand to return to 1787, and the original intent in the Constitution, than Rick Santorum parroting a yearning many Republicans espouse. On C-SPAN last Sunday, Santorum said that the Founding Fathers were right when they limited voting rights during the creation of the United States for the sake of continuity. “You could say that’s horrible, that’s terrible. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. But it was consistent with the values the government was founded upon.” It is also the desire of many conservatives today to return to 1787 when voting was limited to only adult white men with property with the 21st Century proviso that property-holding white men adhere to the Christian religion.
There are many Republicans today that regret women, people of color, and young adults (over 18) were granted equal rights and the ability to vote. Several Southern states enacted voter suppression laws specifically targeting young adults, people of color, and women. Subsequently, the Constitutional Amendments giving women, African Americans, and young people voting rights (Fifteenth, Nineteenth, Twenty-fourth, and Twenty-sixth) would be eliminated if conservatives had their way primarily because they do not support Republicans.
Conservatives also oppose Constitutional amendments besides those dealing with voting rights such as the 17th that allowed the people to directly elect Senate representatives, and the 16th giving the federal government authority to levy income taxes to operate the government.
Most of the conservative opposition to constitutional amendments are those enacted after the Civil War, and there are still racists in America who regret the 13th Amendment freeing the slaves was ratified and became the law of the land. It is unbelievable, but there is a reason one hears various evangelicals and conservatives state openly that African slaves were happier and lived a quality life as indentured servants, and it is likely they would abolish the 13th amendment today if they were allowed to give African Americans “a happy existence.”
Of all the Amendments enacted after the Civil War, it is the 14th Amendment conservatives hate above all others because it provided citizenship to persons born in America, due process rights to all citizens, and equal protection under the law fulfilling the Declaration of Independence’s assertion that “all (men) are created equal.” According to the preponderance of 21st Century conservatives and religious conservative’s beliefs, all Americans do not deserve equal protection under the law or the right to due process protections. While conservatives are at it, they would eliminate the 9th Amendment because the Framers understood their were other rights not specifically enumerated in the original Document that would have to be addressed that led to subsequent amendments to ensure all Americans enjoyed equal rights.
As the nation observed over the past four years, conservatives seek to deny women equal protection and due process rights to decide their own reproductive health, prevent gays from marrying the person they love, and eliminate Americans’ equal protection from predatory religious imposition. In fact, it is the 14th Amendment’s provision(s) that racists, xenophobes, homophobes, and especially evangelical Christians appeal to the courts for authority to violate the rights of Americans unwilling to conform to the religious right and conservative vision of America.
The Bill of Rights’ Amendments would not be spared conservative’s axe in the vision of “their” America, particularly the 1st Amendment. Freedom of speech was attacked by Republican Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal who sued an organization for exercising free speech and it was frankly surprising a court found that Jindal’s lawsuit was an attempt to restrict free speech. The conservative Supreme Court distorted the freedom of speech clause by granting free speech rights to corporations to buy elections, and anti-choice protestors to interfere with women seeking medical care. Of course, it has just been three days since Americans witnessed the High Court strike down half the populations’ freedom from establishment of religion in its Hobby Lobby ruling. The religious right has sought to use the 1st Amendment’s Establishment Clause to impose religion on the population for thirty years and the High Court gave them the assist they needed to achieve their goal.
The Amendment’s are not the only parts of the Constitution conservatives despise; they would eliminate Article VI, paragraph 3 and impose a religious test all candidates would have to pass in order to hold public office. There are at least seven states that prohibit American citizens from holding public office if they deny the existence of god, and religious right advocates support the theocratic notion that only Christians are worthy of holding public office. State’s rights advocates, likely former Confederate states, would certainly abolish the Supremacy Clause that establishes that the federal constitution, and federal laws, take precedence over state laws, and even state constitutions.
The list of Constitutional amendments and articles Republicans and their conservative cohort oppose, and would abolish by legislative fiat or outright eliminate in devising a new Constitution, belies their so-called adoration and devotion to the document; whether it is the original version ratified in 1789 or the current amended Constitution. It is safe to say that a new conservative Constitution would include an establishment of religion, guns everywhere, and state’s supremacy over the federal government and little, if anything, else.
Republicans and their assorted allies claim they love the Constitution and demand a return to its original intent, but their assertion belies every policy, stated agenda, and phony devotion they claim to a document they hate as much as this nation’s waning democracy. If they had the authority, conservatives would shred and then burn the Constitution with extreme prejudice and rewrite it with input and express consent of corporations and the religious right (the conservative Supreme Court).
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.