Each of us should have a basic understanding of The Constitution. So should Micah Beckwith, who will debate me Tuesday, 8 p.m., on the Facebook podcast “Mouthwash.” Mr Beckwith is a minister north of Indianapolis and ran as a GOP candidate for INCD5 in 2020.
Mr Beckwith, on car-cam today, said the Constitution is a living document that changes with cultures. “We’ve seen amendments come and go. Like ah abolition. We got rid of alcohol then you see the 21st Amendment comes back and brings the States’ legalization of alcohol.”
“Abolition”: “The legal termination of slavery in the United States.” Black’s Law Dict., 10th ed, 2014, p. 6. Prohibition was the “period from 1920 to 1933, when the manufacture, transport, and sale of alcohol” was illegal in the U.S. by the 18th Amend. Black’s, p. 1406.
The “founders,” Mr Beckwith points out, made the amendment process difficult as they did not want “The Constitution getting changed just by the shifting tides of culture,” but there are rights given to us by [god] “that government has no business messing with, obstructing or changing.”
He distinguishes between the “right”to drive, given to us by our government, but a right that can be revoked “based on how you uphold your privilege to drive” with god-given rights, specifically the right to bear arms under the 2nd Amendment.
Mr Beckwith asserts the 2nd Amendment’s divine origins prevent government from touching it. “The only reason our government exists, when it comes to the 2nd Amendment, it to defend our right to self-defense.” Those last words were from Mr Beckwith, not a deity.
Mr Beckwith is wrong. Government does not give any rights. People are endowed “by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights... That to secure these rights Governments are instituted among” people. Declaration of Independence. Government neither confers nor revokes rights.
More problematic with Mr Beckwith’s scree today were his references to a supreme deity. In the past he - meaning Mr Beckwith, not god - has emphasized Jesus and even referred to talks he has had, in his car, with god. Today Mr Beckwith’s “god” seemed almost generic.
The Framers were not, in contemporary terms, evangelical Christians. “The religious beliefs of the founders seem to have fallen into three categories: Non-Christian Deism, Christian Deism, and orthodox Christianity.” Holmes, “The Faiths of the Founding Fathers,” p. 134.
If you are agnostic, Hindu or Muslim, in Mr Beckwith’s view, you cannot be moral. The Framers of this country in 1787 were more receptive to pluralism than my opponent in tomorrow evening’s debate, after which I hope Mr Beckwith better understands The Constitution.