Sarah Palin, in 2009, said: “The United States Constitution is one of the greatest founding documents in history because it charted a bold new path in the realm of political theory.” Senator John Cornyn, also in 2009, said: “The Framers created a written Constitution to make sure our constitutional rights were fixed and certain. The state conventions whom represented ‘We the People’ looked at that written Constitution and decided to adopt it. The idea was that our rights would be written down for all to see.” The late Jerry Farwell’s group in Virginia wants to amend the US currency “to include an abridged version of the American Constitution on the reverse of every single one dollar bill.” Backed by Eric Cantor, the group goes on to say: “But what really makes this initiative interesting is that on many levels the Constitution represents America’s ‘brand values,’ and it also outlines what defines America’s ‘brand personality’.” I could go on demonstrating the love conservatives used to have for the Constitution but current events suggest they have been rethinking their traditional view of this foundational document.

Deal, McConnell, Boehner and other mainstream conservatives suddenly doubt that the Constitution means what it says about birthright citizenship. They are challenging the traditional interpretation of the amendment that grants birthright citizenship to anyone born on American soil, an interpretation that has stood the test of time since the late 1800’s. Did all of the states that ratified the 14th amendment have no idea what they were doing? These same people have now decided that the Constitution really does not mean religious freedom, especially if that means a religion they do not like that wants to build a building where they do not like, whether in New York or Tennessee or elsewhere. Buck, newly elected Republican Senate candidate in Colorado, said that “the American public needed to be educated “about the populist nature of the 17th Amendment and how it has taken us down the wrong path.” The 17th amendment has to do with the popular election of Senators. Why all of these recent challenges to the Constitution? All from conservatives, not liberals I might add.

Am I the only one increasingly confused over the relationship between conservatives and the Constitution? It seems that when the Constitution challenges their beliefs, the Constitution is at fault, not their beliefs. The Constitution needs to be changed, not their beliefs. However, I suppose we should not be surprised at these challenges. That is how conservatives appear to have started approaching any idea that differs from their beliefs. If the media reports a story they do not agree with, the media is liberal. If a movie or book tells a compassionate story, the movie or book is automatically liberal. And as soon as they label something liberal, they can ignore it as anti-American, and, more importantly, wrong. I believe it will not be long before their challenges to the Constitution will be combined with calls to rid the document of “liberal bias.”

Their world seems to have boiled down to only one “correct” view. Have conservatives lost the sense of a complex world; a world of legitimate political and philosophical and theological differences? It would seem that their world has become one of right and wrong, good and evil, moral and immoral; of only one “legitimate” side. The fact that conservatives have now started challenging the Constitution on multiple fronts suggests we have really started sliding down a dangerous and slippery slope. Are they trying to remake America into their image and disenfranchise the diversity that has made America strong and inviting?

Jim Fitzgerald

Jim Fitzgerald

A clinically trained psychologist, Jim had a private practice in Cobb County for almost 30 years. For the last ten years he has been a Professor of Psychology at Goddard College in Plainfield, VT, but lives in the North Georgia Mountains.