It seems to me that “Founding Father-ism” as I call it, is fundamentally flawed in several ways.
By “Founding Father-ism”; I refer to the practice of referencing “the Founding Fathers” as a source of authority to guide contemporary thought or practice. Though on the surface, referencing the Founding Fathers as a guide for contemporary practice and social philosophy may seem practical, yet I suggest that upon critical examination and scrutiny such is not actually the case.
“Founding Father-ism” is problematic in that such assumes a unity among the aforementioned, when anything but was in fact the case.
Especially the Constitution itself was a source of hot debate, as evidenced by “The Federalist Papers” among other Constitutional era writings. Consider that it took two years after the convening of The Constitutional Convention in order to secure the minimum quota of nine states (out of 13) to ratify the Constitution as the law of the land. Even then, there were many private citizens and public dignitaries who succumbed to Constitutional authority begrudgingly and hesitantly. For good reason, our Constitutional era was labeled “The Great Experiment”, and so it continues to be.
“Founding Father-ism” is problematic in that the Founding Fathers were limited by that which limits us all: They were limited by their humanity.
My point here is simple: The “Founding Fathers” were no better or worse, smarter or naive, biased or unbiased than anyone else. They were simply people, and thus given to error and poor judgment, just as we all are likewise so. This point may sound basic, yet herein lies one of the fundamental flaws of “Founding Father-ism”: The assumption that those early dignitaries were somehow more enlightened or intelligent than anyone else. Such is simply not the case.
“Founding Father-ism” is problematic in that many of the Founding Fathers were guilty of endorsing and participating in extreme violations of human rights.
Keep in mind, that the Founding Fathers included those involved in many of the various aspects of slavery, and there is no reason to believe that they would willingly have abolished the inhumane practice. In the light of the fact that to the Founding Fathers, the phrase “All men” actually referred to all white land owning males over the age of 21, then they can hardly be regarded as a reliable standard as to social values.
“Founding Father-ism” is problematic in that the Founding Fathers were limited by 225 years less experience necessary to guide many social situations of the 21st Century. In this regard, their input in many contemporary circumstances is as impractical as would be our input into the affairs of a society of the mid 23rd Century!!!
The Founding Fathers had no way of conceiving of Finance Capitalism or Multilevel Corporations on a scale known exclusively in our contemporary era.
They had no concept of AK47’s, Nuclear Weaponry, school shootings or even Climate Change.
Ours is a different world than theirs, ours are different issues and affairs than theirs, and ours frankly is a more educated and experienced perspective than are those of the Founding Fathers.
“Founding Father-ism” is a mode of thought and presentation of argument which functions by catch phrases and references to people who have been dead and gone for well over a Century, and whose values we have had to improve upon time and again in an ongoing quest to be a humane, civilized, and respectful society.
To that end we must always be true, and by no means should the writings of folks who never even saw the effects of a school shooting, an airplane, or a nuclear bomb restrict our judgment in dealing with social problems and issues of the 21st Century.