Over the weekend we had a conversation with the girls about pet peeves. We took turns sharing what some of our biggest ones were, which ended up being pretty funny. S. and I made most of ours about things the girls do that make us crazy. And the girls each chose ones that had to do with their sisters.
The clip below from John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight would have been perfect had I decided to share a few of my real pet peeves with the girls. Misquotations in general bother me, but when people throw out a reference to the generic “Founding Fathers” that is clearly ignorant of history, it makes me go a little insane.
People, of all ideological stripes, who try to make modern political arguments based on the beliefs of the “Founding Fathers” are either stupid or intentionally ignoring some very important facts.
1) The “Founding Fathers” were not a monolith. They were not George Washington and his cronies. Or even Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and a bunch of lackeys. There were dozens of Founding Fathers. They would not put a rubber stamp opinion on Obamacare, Roe v. Wade, or immunizations if asked.
2) The Founders were a cantankerous group who disagreed on many aspects of how their new nation should be governed. As ridiculous as it is to believe that you could pick up Washington, Jefferson, Madison, etc. and plop them down in the modern world and their views would be completely consistent with the ones they held nearly 250 years ago, it is even more ridiculous to insist that there was a singular view of government among the Founders that we can apply to governing in 2015.
3) Finally, what so many of these knuckleheads ignore is that the Constitution – a document some in our country believe to be a perfect, unalterable tract on par with the Bible – was a big, fucking compromise. Urban states compromised with rural states. Abolitionists compromised with slave owners. Maritime states compromised with states focused on internal trade. And so on. Yet modern politicians are blasted for making compromises with their ideological opponents and accused of selling out the Constitution.
All this make me batty.
Listen, it’s fine to say you believe something because of the principles John Jay or John Adams stood for when our nation was being formed. Or that you admire how Alexander Hamilton looked at the world. It’s another to claim that the “Founding Fathers” all believed the exact same thing, would not have changed that view over time, and we need to adhere strictly to those 18th century views. Whether you’re arguing for gun control, against universal health care, or about who gets to choose when we go to war, stop insisting that “The Founding Fathers” should get final say in the decision.
Oh, and now for the clip. Which, I admit, goes a little broader than my little rant there. But it’s a useful piece of advice: before you slap a quote from someone who has inspired you on your email signature or Facebook page, do some checking and make sure they actually said it.