Founding Fathers

I try not to say too much about American politics. I don’t generally care for Americans or their stuff. But I thought this was apt given the current media climate and its focus on the American presidential contest.

I hear a lot about what the Founding Fathers would do or think, or what they intended I’m suspicious that 240 years later anyone has any idea what the Founding Fathers intended for their republic, beyond the literal words of the Constitution.

Take, for instance, the Second Amendment:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

On the surface, indeed, people should be able to have guns. But it doesn’t say that people should be able to have all the guns. And it doesn’t say that people shouldn’t have to register their guns. Further, the first half of the amendment would suggest that any question of people having guns is in the strict context of maintaining a well regulated militia. To me, carrying a concealed weapon in a classroom doesn’t have much to do with a well regulated militia.

All that aside, I was listening to 99% Invisible episode 227, Public Works: Rethinking America’s Transportation Infrastructure. A large portion focused on public works being almost a four-letter word and rechristened infrastructure in the 1980s. The discussion mentioned that most infrastructure in America is state jurisdiction, not federal. In terms of roads, the federal government has jurisdiction over post roads, roads intended for the efficiency of postal networks.

An example was made noting that in 1817 President James Madison vetoed a bill saying that it was unconstitutional. It was mentioned, but I was already thinking it, that if anyone should be able to say a proposed bill was unconstitutional it would be James Madison, having helped to write the Constitution almost 30 years before. This was a case where the intent of the Founding Fathers was fairly well known. However, in 2016, I doubt that’s the case.