Timelines are devastating to progressivism.
Over the years, progressive historians have done a good job of insulating their ideology from the question of "when did this happen", by taking quotes out of context, using the power of omission, and other trickery, in order to retroactively cook the books and make some things seem older than they actually are.
The theory of the living and breathing constitution falls under this umbrella. Yet if you examine the history of progressivism itself, you once again see all of their lies on full display.
You needn't look any further than the platform of the Progressive Party. That's right. The progressives were so fed up with how difficult it was to pass amendments that the concept was embedded into their own party platform. That platform says:
AMENDMENT OF CONSTITUTION
The Progressive party, believing that a free people should have the power from time to time to amend their fundamental law so as to adapt it progressively to the changing needs of the people, pledges itself to provide a more easy and expeditious method of amending the Federal Constitution.
Not living and breathing. All of this is very important to understand. The progressives don't want it to be more widely known that this is a doctrine that they themselves cooked up out of whole cloth. They need it to seem as if it simply "just always was".
Now, here is what former president Roosevelt wrote in explaining this:
We propose to make the process of Constitutional amendment far easier, speedier, and simpler than at present.
But this is unnecessary with a living document. No amendment is needed, that whole process can simply be circumvented with judges. He even admits this. He says:
We do not confine ourselves to mere scolding. We do not merely denounce what we do not like. We have a definite plan which has been outlined above. The courts are continuously by their decisions annulling laws which the people desire to have enacted. They are in effect continually amending the Constitution against the deliberate intent of the people who made the Constitution. Judicial amendment to the Constitution is fatally easy. Popular amendment is so difficult that at best it needs ten or fifteen years to put it through. The theory of the Constitution against which we protest takes away from the people as a whole their sovereign right to govern themselves. It deposits this right to govern the people in the hands of well meaning men who either are not elected by the people, or at least are not elected for any such purpose, who cannot be removed by the people, and who too often perversely pride themselves on having no direct responsibility to the people.
Mmmm, give me more of that propaganda. Now, many people who can't stand progressivism could find themselves sucked into this, because on the surface it sounds like really good candy. But the context is so, so important here.
Former president Roosevelt is BITCHING about the fact that as the progressives were proposing and attempting unconstitutional, totalitarian legislative BS: the courts put a halt to it. That's right! The courts in his day stood against progressivism and stood for Liberty and the Constitution. Imagine that! Courts that actually honored and respected the Constitution. Now, suddenly, that paragraph looks just as poisonous to you as it does to me. It's a paragraph that only a dictator could love.
How much better would America be if we had our courts from 100 years ago. It would be great. Constitution up! Liberty up! Tyranny down, down, down. Put it on the ash heap of history.
Now, don't think I'm only saying that it was just the Bull Moosers who put a target upon the Constitution as the finest toilet paper that money cannot buy. Frank Johnson Goodnow, a man whose ideas were highly regarded by Woodrow Wilson, who served as President of Johns Hopkins, wrote the following: (alternate)
The question which has been chosen for discussion this morning is: Can a practically unamendable constitution, adopted in the conditions and under the influences of the political thought prevailing at the end of the eighteenth century, be adapted by judicial interpretation to the needs and thought of the twentieth century without causing us to lose the advantages which are commonly regarded as attached to a written constitution?
So you see, this debate was raging amongst progressives and they increasingly came to believe that the courts were their best course for amending the constitution without ever amending it. It's devilishly, deviously brilliant. No really. How do you do something without doing it? Progressives ask this question of themselves all the time whenever they seek to impose their authority over you and your family, no matter how much you try to prevent it's happening.
Just to show that it wasn't just the high profile progressives, don't forget about Herbert Quick. Quick, who was a supporter of Wilson, also sought a way to get around that pesky, unamendable, not-living constitution. And again, in my last post I discussed Rexford Guy Tugwell, another very important progressive, who also was upset about how immovable the Constitution was.
Now, last but not least, the most important one to consider is the words of Woodrow Wilson. In 1908, when the concept of the living constitution was first introduced, Wilson pointed out the following:
The trouble with the theory is that government is not a machine, but a living thing. It falls, not under the theory of the universe, but under the theory of organic life. It is accountable to Darwin, not to Newton. It is modified by its environment, necessitated by its tasks, shaped to its functions by the sheer pressure of life. No living thing can have its organs offset against each other as checks, and live. On the contrary, its life is dependent upon their quick cooperation, their ready response to the commands of instinct or intelligence, their amicable community of purpose. Government is not a body of blind forces; it is a body of men, with highly differentiated functions, no doubt, in our modern day of specialization, but with a common task and purpose. Their cooperation is indispensable, their warfare fatal. There can be no successful government without leadership or without the intimate, almost instinctive coordination of the organs of life and action. This is not theory, but fact, and displays its force as fact, whatever theories may be thrown across its track. Living political constitutions must be Darwinian in structure and in practice.
During the 1912 campaign, Wilson refined his beliefs. If you contrast his book to this speech, there are only merely subtle differences. But one difference is so important:
Government is not a body of blind forces; it is a body of men, with highly differentiated functions, no doubt, in our modern day, of specialization, with a common task and purpose. Their cooperation is indispensable, their warfare fatal. There can be no successful government without the intimate, instinctive coordination of the organs of life and action. This is not theory, but fact, and displays its force as fact, whatever theories may be thrown across its track. Living political constitutions must be Darwinian in structure and in practice. Society is a living organism and must obey the laws of life, not of mechanics; it must develop.
All that progressives ask or desire is permission — in an era when “development” “evolution,” is the scientific word — to interpret the Constitution according to the Darwinian principle; all they ask is recognition of the fact that a nation is a living thing and not a machine.
You notice how in the beginning, he kind of just throws the idea out there about a living constitution based on Darwinian thought instead of that of Newton? He has a lot to say about it in the abstract, but in the second instance he is forceful. Full of conviction. The nation will die unless the constitution is living and breathing, there is no doubt about it that Wilson believes this fully in 1912. But note the contrast between the two. They've made progress, but the question is, progress from what? If the constitution was already living and breathing right from the start, why would so many progressives have been harping and carping to begin with? That, right there, their whining is the point.
I've spent a lot of this writing putting together a contrast of before and after, but actually, Wilson does it far better. He does so the best. Wilson, in admitting that the Constitution is actually Newtonian as originally formulated, is stating that the Constitution is not living and breathing. A machine cannot just change it's shape and form,(Maybe they will one day, but they do not now) you have to "revise" it somehow, by bolting on a new piece. You have to work on it, amend it, by having something mechanically changed, such as the mechanics of a Constitutional Revision Committee; such as an amendment process.
This is why we need to know the history of progressivism, because it is quite distinctly to our advantage. You can tell both in reading these short clips, and even moreso if you opened the links and read additional words, that the progressives knew right from the beginning how they would implement their idea of the living constitution. They just needed to get into office for enough years to nominate enough judges to see it through.