In American politics these days it’s very common for conservatives (and liberals) to refer to ‘The Founding Fathers’ to support one’s position on an issue. Several Supreme Court justices describe themselves as ‘originalists’… adhering to the letter of these ‘framers’ intentions.
To my mind this is as dangerous as a strict ‘scriptural’ interpretation of God’s Laws.
Because the Founding Fathers did not speak with one voice on much of anything.
It’s easy to forget that the hatreds amongst the founders of this great country.
Adams and Jefferson slandered one another. Jefferson used dirty tricks to win their presidential contest. They then didn’t speak to one another for more than a decade.
Oh, and Hamilton was shot by fellow Founder Aaron Burr.
So besides getting rid of the Brits, there wasn’t much they did agree upon.
As you can see, it’s a bit disingenuous to talk about ‘the framers original intent’. Franklin’s vision of America was as different from Madison’s as was Paul’s version of Christianity from Peter’s. In short, though they shared the same dream of heaven, their roads to Paradise were quite different.
There is always great tension between leaders of any important movement. So we should not be too quick to assume we know a singular truth about any founder’s long term intentions. It’s like asking ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ We can’t know because, after all, even those who followed nearest him were being constantly surprised.
If we attempt to govern based on ‘original intent’, we must[...]