According to the Right’s revisionist narrative, the framers of the Constitution met in Philadelphia for the purpose of tightly restricting the powers of the national government and broadly empowering the states – when the actual intent of the Constitutional Convention was nearly the opposite.
The Right has now popularized this bogus version of history so much that it has become a rallying cry for the Tea Party and other poorly informed Americans, including that self-proclaimed historian Newt Gingrich, who declared recently, “I believe in the Constitution; I believe in the Federalist Papers. Obama believes in Saul Alinsky and secular European socialist bureaucracy.”
Instead, the Right has sought to impose a reinterpretation of the Constitution by using its increasingly powerful media tools to revise the history of the United States and pretend that Madison and other Founders designed the Constitution as a document to establish the authority of the states to defy the federal government.
This revisionist view is now at the heart of the Tea Party movement and is reflected in comments by Republican presidential hopefuls, such as the insistence of Rep. Ron Paul of Texas that much of what the federal government has done domestically in recent decades has been unconstitutional. It also apparently was what Gingrich was driving at with his recent comment about his belief in the Constitution and the Federalist Papers.
But the Right leaves out of this narrative the key fact of why the Constitution was drafted in the first place: to get rid of the Articles of Confederation with that language about sovereign and independent states in a non-binding “firm league of friendship.”
It simply doesn’t fit the Right’s narrative that the Constitution represented the nation’s single greatest consolidation of federal power – nor that the key Founders, including James Madison, saw this new constitutional authority as a practical way to build a stronger nation, then and for the future.
The wingnuts use the Constitution the same way they use the Bible, as a tool to mislead the ignorant and uninformed whom they know have never read either of them.