In a Senate State Government Committee meeting today, Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) said something that caught my attention. After another senator implied that Thomas Jefferson would favor legislative term limits, Hughes reminded the committee and the audience that “there were no Founding Mothers” and went on to talk about the fact that women didn’t have the vote and that Africans were enslaved. Hughes’ point was that the Founders weren’t perfect.
This is something I think about from time to time. I usually use the words “Framers” or “Founders” so as not to reference the patriarchy of that day.
The imperfections of the Framers are apparent. On the one hand, they were brilliant by setting up the system of government that they created. On the other hand, they were clearly limited by the mores of the day, and the continuation of slavery after the nation’s founding is the first major example of compromise at work within a democracy. I often wonder if the Framers were real progressives who were just held back by the society they lived in or if they embraced the patriarchal, racist values of the society at large.
The ultimate brilliance, though, was in making the Constitution broad enough and general enough that future generations could improve on what they started.
Andy in Harrisburg