Letter by Winfield Rose, Professor of political science
Constitution Day has come and gone and certainly no one can say we did not fulfill our legal obligation to observe the day appropriately. The day, and our observance of it, however, leave me with a profound sense of unease. I say this for two reasons.
The first is that, campus-wide, so few people participated. The bulk of the turnout was by students and faculty in two departments, political science & sociology and history, and the rest of the campus showed little interest.
This was especially true of the excellent evening lecture given by Dana Nelson of Vanderbilt University, and was in spite of Duane Bolin’s column in The News urging attendance and participation.
Evidently, most people are simply too busy or too uninterested to concern themselves with the past, present and future of their country. A sad commentary indeed, one for which a price will be paid.
The second cause of my unease is that I am very apprehensive about the future of our country. Our body politic suffers from multiple maladies.
In my column published in this newspaper Oct. 12, 2012, I identified these as (1) the unwillingness to face reality in both domestic and foreign policy; (2) the degradation of political discourse to the level of blood sport; and (3) the abdication by the mass media of its role as objective watchdog over our political system, resulting in the election in 2008 of an incompetent, dishonest and highly divisive demagogue as president.
The intervening year has seen a worsening of the situation. Not only have the above problems continued, the demagogue was re-elected, thereby giving him another term to wreak his havoc on the country.
In the past we have had ineffective, dishonest and incompetent presidents, but never before have we had one who combined so many bad traits into such a toxic and destructive administration.
Thus, the question is what if anything, does not only the election, but the re-election, of the pied piper of Chicago say about the Constitution of 1787? It could be said that the Electoral College should have been left to operate as the Framers designed it.
It could also be said that the 12th or 17th or 22nd or 23rd or some other amendment should not have been added.
It could even be said, as Woodrow Wilson did in 1887, that our presidential system should be replaced with a parliamentary system.
On the other hand, I agree with Tocqueville that in a democracy, character is more important than constitutional structure, meaning that good people will overcome a bad structure but a good structure cannot overcome bad people.
That is where we have now crossed the continental divide. We have more people riding the wagon than pulling the wagon. We have extended the role of government as servant and protector of basic rights to be the provider of multiple and costly wants.
We do not want to pay the taxes to pay for those wants, so the government borrows and prints more and more money to pay for them.
At the same time, we have created a huge bureaucratic monstrosity that is so complex we are inundated with daily reports of incompetence and corruption. And now this monstrosity is in charge of health care!
I do not therefore, believe that Barack Obama’s re-election says nearly as much about our 1787 Constitution as it says about the American people themselves.
People get the kind of government they deserve, and when we elect a stubborn demagogue whose leadership style is insult and conquer, it is because we want such a person as president.
And, if we live in a despotic nannystate, it is because that’s where we want to live or because we lack the guts to get rid of it.
The wretched predicament we are in is not because of the Constitution; it is in spite of the Constitution.
Letter by Todd Broker, Director, Center for Economic Education
Recently William Zingrone encouraged us all to investigate the historicity of the Bible, and for once, I agree with him.
I totally disagree that the Bible “gets a pass” from scholarship as Zingrone says.
In fact, I believe the Bible is unfairly criticized. For example, scholars do not doubt the authenticity of ancient texts like Caesar’s “Gallic Wars,” Tacitus’ “Annals of Imperial Rome” or Josephus’ “The Jewish War.”
However, the evidence for these ancient works is much less reliable than for the Bible in terms of the number of ancient manuscripts available and how close those manuscripts date to the actual events.
Also, reasonable people can choose to not believe the Bible, but the archaeological evidence alone firmly places it above the “myth” category.
There are numerous verifiable details mentioned in the Bible that have been confirmed by secular archaeology (the destruction of the city of Jericho, King Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem, the military campaigns of King Ahab of Israel just to name a few).
Even liberal New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman would tell you that Jesus of Nazareth was no myth.
Furthermore, most supposed Bible contradictions are easily refuted once the critic applies the original Biblical languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek) and understands that some words are homographs. In the case of Jesus’s ascension to Heaven, this hardly even qualifies as a supposed contradiction since the Gospel accounts never directly contradict the time frame given in Acts.
The language in each passage easily allows for reconciliation.
Finally, as a former atheist who converted to Christianity in college, I agree with Zingrone that everyone should study these issues with integrity.
I believe that after careful study, despite Zingrone’s best efforts, it’s more than reasonable to believe the Bible and Christianity.