24 January 2014

The Real Birth of America

America was not born on 4 July 1776, at which time the Declaration of Independence of the “United Colonies” was only signed, not yet ratified by the individual states. 

Nor was it born on 1 March 1781, the day the Articles of Confederation, under which the still-sovereign states had been governing themselves in the Continental Congress since 1777, became fully ratified.

Instead, America gave birth to itself over a period lasting from 4 March 1789 to 15 December 1791, the dates when the Constitution and the subsequent Bill of Rights became effective, in a process in which the individual states gave up the sovereignty of their individual selves to the People of the whole in the name of the common good. 

America has been reborn again and again and again thanks to Article 5 of the Constitution, which allows for amendments and is bad news for reactionaries and historical revisionists masquerading as so-called “strict constructionists” since the existence of that provision destroys the very ground upon which they stand. 

The sovereignty of individual states ended 4 March 1789.  The argument for “states’ rights”, advanced by the slave-holding Confederacy and more recently by Chief Justice John Roberts and the right wing of SCOTUS in NFIB v. Sibellius (2012) as well as every power interested in preserving its ability to abuse the rights of every one of the People of the United States within its reach is not an attempt to uphold the Constitution but to overthrow it.

That is the first lesson.  The second is like it; do not judge the countries of North Africa and Western Asia which saw regimes change or begin to change during the Arab Spring by the standards of 21st century America but by the process that began in 1770.

Here endeth the lesson.

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