Many seek to delegitimize our system of government and the Constitution by obsessing over the flaws of the Founding Fathers.
Christopher Columbus didn’t really discover America. Thomas Jefferson had an affair with one of his slaves. George Washington was a slaveowner. Andrew Jackson persecuted Indians. And on, and on…
The interesting thing is that one of the core premises upon which our Constitution, written by the Founding Fathers, was based is the idea that men are not angels. All people are able to be corrupted, act selfishly, or simply make mistakes born out of greed or poor judgment.
The idea of checks and balances exists because of their shared belief that no one could be trusted to benevolently serve as ruler of a nation. That inevitably, they would be corrupted or put self preservation over the good of the people.
This is why there not only was no ruler, but they tried their best to divide power up into as many segments as possible. It’s why the Federal Government was given very little power beyond protecting the country.
Not only did the founders understand human nature enough to know the bad we could do, but they also understood the innovation and ideas that would come of a free people. That is one of the true secrets of America’s greatness. When people are given the freedom to follow their happiness, we often all benefit, as a result.
Acknowledging the poor decisions and behaviors of our Founding Fathers doesn’t disqualify them. It does the opposite. It illustrates what they new about human nature and shows their brilliance in crafting a government that would decentralize power, incentivize individual freedom and thought, and hold accountable people just like them.
The Founding Fathers created one of the greatest and most important documents in history. That they had flaws only serves to underscore their importance and greatness.