In political ideology, there are two main opposing sides to modern history: the conservatives and progressives. In my judgement, the conservatives are those who best align with the proper view of the values that undermine the American regime. Why is this? Conservatives are inherently people who claim to fight for equality and progress democracy through the use of founding documents. This is apparent in history, as we have seen that with changing democratic ideals, there is a slow integration of inclusiveness. When this essay began and I examined Aristotle’s definition of definition of democracy, there was an aspect to it that seemed lacking, for how can democracy be truly by the people if not everyone can participate “for the male is by nature better fitted to command than the female (except in some cases where their union has been formed contrary to nature? and the older and fully developed person than the younger and immature” (Aristotle,The Politics, 1259b). By the time I analyze democracy through Tocqueville, there is much more inclusion during the pre-civil war regime than in ancient times, but still not fully inclusive.
Women had not yet gained suffrage, and the negro was still bound in slavery. What matters though is the definition of democracy had changed to the point where inclusiveness was vital to the principle of democracy, as well as the strict reading of our Constitution. Our founders obviously thought inclusiveness was important too, because our founding documents have been a key for conservatives to fight for individual liberties for all. The Declaration of Independence was the first step towards proclaiming a land of liberty in the newfound republic. It is here that the famed words “all men are created equal” was said and later the Constitution, our State’s cornerstone would say “We the People”. The Declaration of Independence and US Constitution can be used as a foundation to these arguments against 20th century progressives.
Frederick Douglass and other great social advocates certainly thought so, as I have already pointed out in the previous paragraphs. Their arguments are held up with the belief that the great vagueness of the Constitution and literal interpretation of the words on the page are the only way to interpret what the Constitution means in these cases and I believe this to be true. Progressives have a backwards way of thinking. They do not represent American values at all. Whereas conservatives are attuned to believing that the ink on the Constitution and Declaration of Independence has been dried for centuries, progressives believe that interpretations and changes can be made. In a 1912 speech, Woodrow Wilson, an iconic figure of the progressive era, says this “The Declaration of Independence did not mention the questions of our day.
It is of no consequence to us unless we can translate its general terms into examples of the present day and substitute them in some vital way for the examples it itself gives, so concrete, so intimately involved in circumstances of the day in which it was conceived and written” (Woodrow Wilson, What is Progress?, Coursepack, 581). This statement proves the progressive sentiment to pervert the great American values and further their goal to drift away from them. Another great progressive hero in the 20th century was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This man used his interpretation of the Constitution to create a massive growth of government, which still infringes on the rights of Americans. Our founders were classical liberals to the core, and believed in a small government that conducted business for and by the people of the United States.
FDR says that talking of the contracts in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution “Under such a contract, rulers were accorded power, and the people contested to that power on consideration that they be accorded certain right. The task of statesmanship has always been the re-definition of these rights in terms of a changing and growing social order. New conditions impose new requirements upon Government and those who conduct Government” (Franklin D. Roosevelt, Commonwealth Club Address, Coursepack, 601-602).
In saying this, FDR was saying that the social contract that Americans agree to is subject to ever changing wills and emotions, rather than what is set in stone in the Constitution “Faith in America, faith in our tradition of personal responsibility, faith in our institutions, faith in ourselves demand that we recognize the new terms of the old social contract” (Franklin D. Roosevelt, Commonwealth Club Address, Coursepack, 604). Conservatives have held the time old tradition that the most effective way for a well functioning democratic regime is to use our founding documents and principles as they were. These great pieces are the foundation of our nation and the men who wrote them are the nearest we have to demigods.
No man, without consent of the people of whom power is derived from, can change any of the definitions in our historical pieces.