Are America’s Founding Fathers Overused in Political Discourse?
From the publisher: In THE JEFFERSON RULE historian David Sehat describes how liberals, conservatives, secessionists, unionists, civil rights leaders, radicals, and libertarians have sought out the Founding Fathers to defend their policies. Beginning with the debate between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton over the future of the nation, and continuing through the Civil War, the New Deal, the Reagan Revolution, and Obama and the Tea Party, many pols have asked, “What would the Founders do?” instead of “What is the common good today?” Recently both the Right and the Left have used the Founders to sort through such issues as voting rights, campaign finance, free speech, gun control, taxes, and war and peace. They have used an outdated context to make sense of contemporary concerns.
In our interview we discussed how Thomas Jefferson became the most influential of the founders of our nation, the Tea Party’s strict interpretation of the constitution, and how the Founding Fathers didn’t even agree among themselves about the meaning of the constitution
David Sehat is Associate Professor of History at Georgia State University. His first book, The Myth of American Religious Freedom, won the Frederick Jackson Turner Award from the Organization of American Historians.