I wrote most of this some time ago. It still seems relevant:
Recently, I have greatly emphasized the importance of what I often call the “cold war interpretation of the Constitution” (see my articles: Thoughts on the cold war interpretation of the U.S. Constitution: distortion “in the name of the Constitution” and More thoughts on the cold war interpretation of the U.S. Constitution – the ‘frigid war’, ‘the re-enactment of the American Revolutionary War’, and the ‘historical shadow’). In my opinion, the cold war era has distorted not only the Constitution but American society as a whole. In other words, the cold war turned the Constitution into something far bigger than it is which has distorted things as a result. In some cases, its been so overvalued that it borders on a religious document “written by God”.
Some things that caused this “cold war distortion of the Constitution” include:
- It was the only “all-encompassing social power” that could be cited in the country which made it the only main means of authority. This made the Constitution have great authority much like the Bible (frankly, too much authority).
- The Constitution was used as a means of national pride and feelings.
- The emphasis on the Constitution turned it into a basis for life.
- The Constitution was used as a defense against fear and paranoia.
- It was heavily abused, particularly by certain people who found a use for it.
- The emphasis on the Constitution and “freedom” tended to cause an abandoning of other things (such as identity, belief, morality, etc.) creating a one-sided point of view.
Overall, the Constitution became a “rallying cry” during the cold war which made it the basis for everything “American”. But, in actuality, it really only reflects an era’s interpretation of things. The era that it reflects is the era of about 1970 where a number of things were prevalent:
- Vietnam War protests
- The Hippie movement
- Civil Rights
- Paranoia, fear, and panic coming from the Cold War
Two common traits of the “cold war interpretation of the Constitution” point of view are:
- It assumes that there is hatred between people and that we are threatened. This means that this point of view tends to create and find hatred and threats which often don’t exist.
- It assumes the Constitution will save us and is the only answer. This means that this point of view tends to want the Constitution in our everyday life and the model of how we should live.
It creates a mentality that goes something like this: “we all have to act, behave, and speak in the correct way so that nobodies precious American rights are violated as everyone is threatening everyone else because everyone hates everyone”. Being around some people with this mentality is not much different than being around an obsessive compulsive paranoid schizophrenic person.
Now that this era is decades past I think its very evident that its point of view is out-of-date and incorrect. But most Americans still promote the “cold war interpretation of the Constitution” because, during that time, it was heavily associated with patriotism and America. In this way, the “cold war interpretation of the Constitution”, with all its distortion and nonsense, has become part of the American identity. This is one of the main reasons why this point of view has qualities such as:
- It is a common point of view
- Its hard to get rid of
- It is automatically assumed to be correct
These conditions will probably remain for some time as there’s nothing to oppose it at this time. As far as I know, I’m the only one to oppose it.
There are many things the “cold war interpretation of the Constitution” says that I do not believe. Some of the things I do not believe the Constitution says include:
I do not believe the Constitution was meant to be a model for life
It was not meant to be the basis of how to live ones life (see my article “Thoughts on how political theories do NOT reflect human life – the insufficiency of political theory as a model for human life“). In this way, it should not affect my everyday life nor should I have to change my life to fit its dictates. I believe the Constitution was only meant to be a model and guideline for government, not of society or life.
I do not believe the Constitution was meant to infiltrate everyday life
The Constitution is a political/legal document. It should stay in the political/legal domain. In this way, I consider normal everyday life as “out of bounds” for the Constitution.
I do not believe the Constitution was meant to be imposed upon people
The Constitution was intended as a political and legal guideline. It was not meant to be imposed and forced upon people.
I do not believe the Constitution was meant to undermine human institutions, beliefs, identities, etc.
Any document (whether political, legal, religious, etc.) that undermines human institution, beliefs, etc. isn’t worth following. The “cold war interpretation of the Constitution” has undermined and destroyed many social institutions which is one reason why I tend to doubt it.
I do not believe the Constitution was meant to be a religion and a basis to the deeper aspects of life
It is not the Bible and should not be treated in that way. This means that you don’t go around quoting it as an authority in life and talk like it has some deep meaning in it.
I do not believe the Constitution was meant to be the “only answer”
The Constitution is a political and legal theory only. It is not the “only example” of government or human society nor is it the only “right” . . . it is just theory. It was not written by god and should not be treated that way.
I do not believe the Constitution was meant to be a defense against blind paranoia and fear
As I said above, much of the “cold war interpretation of the Constitution” is based in paranoia and fear. In addition, the Constitution was viewed as a defense against this. I do not believe that the Constitution was meant for this type of thing. The Constitution should not be used to defend one self from blind paranoia and fear as is being done in the “cold war interpretation of the Constitution”.
As a result of the “cold war interpretation of the Constitution” it has caused the Constitution to become far more extensive than it should. It has caused a tendency where there is a tendency to make politics too much an issue in life, it has greatly exaggerated politics, and has unnecessarily applied it to everyday life. Because of this, it has done a number of things such as:
- It has given a distorted view of humanity
- It has given a distorted view of human life
- It has created many imagined conflicts that don’t exist
- It has caused many unnecessary problems between people
In my opinion, what people really need is a good view of life again. Political theory, and paranoia, is NOT a good source of this.
Copyright by Mike Michelsen