I heard esteemed populist Bill O’Reilly throw in the old “they (the Founding Fathers) had no idea what would be going on today” around the time of the Supreme Court’s decision that the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill had unconstitutional provisions. This is a comment we hear all the time growing up in the U.S. It’s something that has been repeated so often, it has become a conventional wisdom. This conventional wisdom is false, but perhaps more importantly if we understand our Constitution, it is irrelevant.
It is “king syndrome” human thinking (if that is such a phrase, if not, it should be!); you get the idea though, people seem to have some inherent assumption that government makes a bunch of rules for them to follow (I cannot IMAGINE how they get that idea). Thus, they can easily believe that the guys who made up the first set of rules could not have any idea what their lives are like today, and thus those rules are irrelevant. Of course that is true, rules for carriage traffic cannot apply to modern highways; yet this thinking is detached from the purpose of the Constitution.
It is by liberal design that Americans are encouraged to think this way and skip thinking about how the Constitution is as relevant as ever today. The Constitution has nothing to do with rules for the people, and everything to do with limits on federal powers. The founders did not have to know what is going on today. They just knew cannot afford to let the federal government get involved in too many of your modern problems, perhaps you can call your state if something requires government.
That said. The founders did know a lot about what was going on today, which is why their document is so brilliant. Madison studied every governmental failure known to man in his attempt to eradicate tyranny in America. So well in fact that he knew the Bill of Rights was not the greatest idea. His fear that people would focus too much on the rights designated in the bill and forget that those were not the only protections extended to the people in the Constitution seems to ring true today. It seems we draw on the Bill of Rights to defend against Federal intrusion far too much, when we should force the government to point out where the power they exercise is enumerated in the Constitution.