Time Magazine's recent Constitution cover story asks: "Does It Still Matter?" Its answer? Well, yeah, it sort of does, but then again, you know, not so much. After all, the Founding Fathers could neither foresee computers nor Twitter nor predict that Rep. Anthony Weiner would use both to implode his career. So, really, in the modern day, what's the relevance of the old document crafted by well-to-do, slave-owning white males?
As the federal government got bigger over the next 200 years, and assumed responsibilities the Founding Fathers considered the job of individuals, families and communities -- or of the separate states -- Madison's position withered. It's now fighting for its life.
Soon, the 50 percent of voters who pay little or no taxes will march into the polling booth, many pulling levers, pushing buttons and punching chads to vote themselves a raise -- at somebody's else's expense. If the Supreme Court permits the ObamaCare mandate, anything goes.
Constitution-shredders point not to our bloated federal government, the entitlement mentality or to the desire of politicians on both sides to promise things that the Founders feared would eventually produce an electorate with little or no financial skin in the game. No, the real villain is the dastardly Bush tax cuts! If only they had not been enacted, they tell us!
Why not blame the tax cuts signed by other presidents? President John Kennedy's plan reduced the top marginal income tax rate from 91 percent to 70 percent. President Ronald Reagan reduced the top marginal tax rate from 70 to 28 percent. President George W. Bush, by contrast, reduced the top rate from 39.6 to 35 percent, making him Scrooge-like in comparison.
The Washington Post's "Fact Checker" says the two Bush tax cuts, in 2001 and 2003, "cost" $2.8 trillion over 10 years (an average of $280 billion per year). In the last two and a half years alone, Obama has presided over the addition of almost $4 trillion in new debt, and this year's deficit is an estimated $1.6 trillion.
Besides, liberals like the Bush tax cuts -- at least for the lower 98 percent of workers. Since most Democrats want to preserve the Bush-era tax rates for all but the top 2 percent, the objectionable "cost" of the cuts becomes even more inconsequential to dealing with budget, deficit and debt problems.
So now what? We drifted away from the Constitution in fits and starts. It is how we must return to it. Voters must remember who talked the talk and walked the walk. This is a time when we change course, when people rediscover American exceptionalism and the wisdom of the Constitution and say, "Enough."
If not, Greece awaits.