Glenn Beck: Supreme Shakeup


M. Edward Whelan III


President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center

GLENN: I mean, is it just me? Can we turn the head phone volume down? Is it honestly, is it just me that just can't take the nightmare that is the news of the day. I mean, my gosh, it just never stops. Does anybody else want a nap? Is there anybody else that wants a nap? I've got to tell you I look at the news of the day and I think to myself, stop! I can't take anymore. We've got the swine flu, we have huge economic problems, we've got the problems in Iran and North Korea, we have the government firing CEOs, taking over. And last night Souter, you're like, you've got to be kidding me. Now, the only thing that's good about it is I mean, you could get a much worse judge, don't get me wrong, but I mean, it's not going to change anything. I mean, he's already a nightmare. How did that happen? Can anybody ever tell me if there's ever been a judge that the Democrats picked and all of a sudden it turned out to be, you know, Bork? Had that ever happened? Is anybody like, oh, yeah, you guys are going to love him; he is going to be for pot smoking abortion doctors. And then all of a sudden he turns out to be Robert Bork? How come that only happens to conservatives? That's what they want you to believe. Uh huh.

Wait a minute, hang on. This one came from George H. W. Bush, uh huh. No, he's he wasn't progressive at all. We have Ed Whelan on the phone. He is from National Review. Ed?

WHELAN: Yes, Glenn.

GLENN: Ed, are you there?

WHELAN: Yes, I am, Glenn.

GLENN: Can it get worse?

WHELAN: Yes, it can and it will.

GLENN: It's Friday, man, help me out a little bit.

WHELAN: Souter is a terrible justice but you can expect Obama to be even worse.

GLENN: It's not going to change the makeup or anything, is it?

WHELAN: It's going to entrench the bad five justice majority that we have and as new justices come on and have different agenda, it does affect things. So and, of course, it removes a huge opportunity to improve the court. So I don't think we can take comfort in the fact that the already bad court will simply continue to be bad, especially since there are a whole lot of issues on the horizon that the Court will be deciding in coming years and the justice that Obama appoints will probably be the fifth vote for things like imposition of the federal constitutional right to same sex marriage, stripping "Under God" out of the "Pledge of Allegiance," continuing to abolish the death penalty on the installment plan, micromanaging the government's war powers, inventing a constitutional right to human cloning. We can go on and on. Look, people have different policy views on these issues. I'm not saying that there's a single policy view that people need to adopt. What I am saying is that our Constitution leaves these issues to American citizens to work out through their elected representatives. It does not give the power to Supreme Court justices to impose their view on them, but that is clearly what Obama means to do.

GLENN: I have to tell you, when did that go away? When did the idea Judge Napolitano and I were talking the other day about the Dred Scott decision and there were Americans that said, I ain't abiding by that, I don't care; if that's what the Supreme Court says, I don't care; you can throw me in jail. When did we become this country where we legislate from the bench and then we just take it?

WHELAN: Well, that's a very good question. I'll tell you that the Supreme Court itself never stated that it had this final authoritative role supreme over all the other branches until 1958, but a lot of people pretend that this is rooted in Marbury versus Madison, which is a gross misreading of that 1803 decision. We live now in an era in which people have become accustomed to judicial supremacy and think that the Supreme Court can willy nilly decide all these issues. It's understandable that people think that because that's been the practical reality for the last several decades.

GLENN: Right. That's what everybody says. And, well, the Supreme Court, they have to decide. But what it's turned into is the supreme council in Iran where it's just this group of men and they decide, you know, on what it's going to be. They pick everything. They pick the rules and the people don't have anything to say. They are not God. They work for us.

WHELAN: That's right. We have a system of government now by judiciary. The adjutant supreme and Supreme Court modifies court. It's talking about that court's role in the judicial system. It is not an assertion that the Supreme Court sits above the executive branch or the legislative branch. We've somehow lost, you know, an elementary understanding of basic separation of powers, principles.

GLENN: So who do you think's going to be nominated? What I hay well, I really don't want to make any predictions. There are so many bad choices to choose from that, you know, it's likely to be

GLENN: Throw a couple out there. Show me how bad it could get.

WHELAN: Let me talk about, well, you know, Harold Koh has been on the short list.

GLENN: Oh, jeez.

WHELAN: I know you've been talking about his nomination. The department of legal advisor, he has crazy views across the board. You take Deval Patrick.

GLENN: You know, Ed, let's stop here on Harold Koh for a second. Explain to people why Harold Koh I mean, here's a guy who's going to be writing and approving all of our treaties, them legally. Explain why Harold Koh is so dangerous because there are a lot of Republicans that are like, oh, no, he's not that bad. Those are the progressive transnationalist Republicans. Why is Harold Koh bad?

WHELAN: Well, from what I can tell, the Republicans who support him haven't bothered to look at his record. I know that from private communications with some of them. Look, Harold Koh believes that international law and foreign law should be imported into and imposed on American citizens. He has various means of doing that. One is that he favors reinterpreting constitutional provisions so that they COM port with ever changing rules of international and foreign law. He's explicit on that. I've spelled it out. No one's refuted it. What that means in practice is he wants to subordinate the American Constitution to foreign and international rules. We see that in his attack on First Amendment free speech principles which he finds opprobrious. We see that in his invention of rights to same sex marriage and abolition of death penalty. He also wants to use the sound to folks, that's how he wants to use cover, he wants to use so called customary international law which he says is generated by meetings of leftwing activists and UN conferences. He views that as binding federal law in the United States, and he says that if the United States rejects a treaty that 150 countries have signed onto, the terms of the treaty are nonetheless binding on the United States as customary international law. You know, he believes that the United States should never be able to engage in preemptive self defense, no matter how imminent or severe the threat. You can go on and on. He may be mainstream in the leftwing cesspool of legal academia but he's far he's a radical pick and the worst possible pick for this position where he will have influence on a broad range of matters. Indeed he himself has identified the value of occupying strategic institutional choke points where folks like him can have inordinate influence on the importation of international law into the American system.

GLENN: We're talking to Ed Whelan. He's the president of Ethics and Public Policy Center and also writes for the National Review and we're talking about Souter that, you know, he's now leaving. And Souter isn't a I mean, Ginsburg is a transnationalist, and this seems to be the next step of where we're going to where we just look to other countries and say, well, that's where the that's where everybody is going anyway. So we should go there as well. They are not looking to our law. They are not looking to our Constitution. They are looking to international law and the direction of the world saying that that's how we should apply and that's how we should start making decisions. Who else is on the list that you think could be brought up?

WHELAN: Oh, well, there are folks like Deval Patrick, the governor of Massachusetts, who has made some incredibly extreme arguments on racial matters, Cass Sunstein who's

GLENN: Wait, wait. Like what?

WHELAN: Well, he claimed a couple of years ago that the Supreme Court was on the verge of overruling Brown versus Board, you know, an outrageous misrepresentation of the case before the court. He's taken he argues that once the court speaks, that's the end of it. Just again extreme judicial supremacist. I've spelled out his views in a lengthy post, digging out now to run through more but, you know, he has oh, when he was assistant attorney general in the Clinton administration, he advocated an aggressive set of quotas that got even Clinton appointees to say that what he was doing was completely lawless. So he is as far left as you can go as a racial extremist.

GLENN: Anybody who's listening to me now in Pennsylvania, I just want to ask you if you voted for Arlen Specter, you knew are you now still saying that the people who didn't vote for Arlen Specter threw away their vote? You not only threw away your vote, your vote was now betrayed and Arlen Specter is going to play a role in this. Ed?

WHELAN: Glenn, let me mention just another candidate. A Hispanic judge on the second circuit who's prominently mentioned primarily because she's Hispanic and female, she's the judge who helped bury the firefighters' claims in this case that's now before the Supreme Court. We had firefighters in New Haven who studied hard for a promotional exam that had been embedded before him for its fairness. When they passed, the city decided it didn't like the racial composition of the folks who passed the test and it threw out the exam. And she tried to bury their claims in a one paragraph dismissive order that didn't even state what the case was about. And there's a fellow Clinton appointee, Jose Cabranes, a good judge who wrote a blistering dissent in the case saying that this is a completely irresponsible way to handle the case. She is a frontrunner here. You have, again there are plenty of others, happen to run through them but there's no one remotely good who happens to be under consideration.

GLENN: Any way to stop the steamroller? There's none?

WHELAN: You know, well, to be realistic about it, all we can hope to do is increase the political costs of a bad pick but, you know, realistically President Obama, you know, could get, you know, Bill Ayers confirmed these days.

GLENN: Yeah. No, I really think he could. And I think there's a lot of people in the population that will just be like, oh, stop with the Bill Ayers stuff; so what, he blew up a police station and the Pentagon; oh, stop it. There's a lot of people who would do that.

WHELAN: You would get letters from Republicans supporting him.

GLENN: I know. All right, thanks a lot, Ed, I appreciate it. He is the president of Ethics and Public Policy Center and also writes for the National Review.


 

By July 9, 1776, a copy of the Declaration of Independence reached New York City, where British naval ships occupied New York Harbor. Revolutionary spirit and tension were running high. George Washington, commander of the Continental forces in New York, read the Declaration aloud in front of City Hall. The crowd cheered wildly, and later that day tore down a statue of King George III. They melted down the statue to make 42,000 musket balls for the ragtag American army.

America's separation from Great Britain was officially in writing. Now came the hard part.

The Declaration of Independence defines who we are, what we believe, and what we aspire to be. It is a mission statement. But no one said it would be easy to implement.

The Declaration was not simply an official announcement of our split from Great Britain. If it was just that, it could've been a lot shorter. It was also an announcement that we're starting a new company, and here's what we're basing it on. It didn't just declare independence — it declared principles. It declared how we were going to organize ourselves once we were out on our own, and it set up guardrails to help ensure we didn't end up like the country we were leaving in the first place.

The Founders set us up for success, but America is now fumbling it away, largely thanks to our dangerous drift from the original blueprints.

In our national discourse, it's hard to find agreement even on fundamentals like the Declaration of Independence anymore. There's no time for old-fashioned things like the Declaration when social media can fuel our outrage around the clock.

We have lost touch with our national DNA.

How often do we jump to outrage before we have any kind of perspective on a matter? In 2017, President Trump had only been in office for one month before over 100 activists rewrote a version of the Declaration of Independence, rewording it with Trump in the King George III role. Trump had been in office for a single month. The focus has shifted from unity to partisan winning at all costs. We have lost touch with our national DNA.

Our basic knowledge of the Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights is so weak that we don't have a clue how they relate to each other. As of late 2017, 37 percent of Americans could not name any of our First Amendment rights. And 33 percent of Americans could not name any branch of our government.

Here's another example of our painful misunderstanding. In a Psychology Today article written before the 2016 presidential election, Dr. Mark Goulston was trying to figure out a way to understand Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. This is what he came up with:

Trump represents the Declaration of Independence. Clinton represents the U.S. Constitution.

He tries to explain that Trump supporters are eager to declare their independence from the political swamp system. For the Constitution side of things, he wrote:

It [the Constitution] may have stood the test of time for so long because it was drafted following a long, costly and awful war that the founding fathers wanted to prevent from happening again. That intention possibly enabled them to create a document that was relatively free from special interests and personal agendas. [Hillary] Clinton is more like the Constitution than the Declaration of Independence and appears to be more about getting things done than declaratively taking a stand.

Besides being a completely bogus way to interpret Hillary Clinton, this comparison makes your brain hurt because it so fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between the Declaration and the Constitution. They are not rival documents.

He says the Constitution has stood the test of time because the founders wrote it to prevent another long, costly war. What? No. It stands the test of time because it was designed to protect the “unalienable rights" of the Declaration.

He goes on to say that we need a new Constitutional Convention because, “We may just need to retrofit it to fit modern times."

This is the primarily leftist idea that America is up against today — that the founding documents worked well for their time, but that they now need an overhaul. Progressives seem to live by the motto, if it ain't broke, fix it anyway. Rather than “fixing" things, however, when we understand the Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights as they already are, we discover that they still work because they're tied to universal principles, not a specific point in time.

Here's one way to think about the Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. The Declaration is our thesis, or mission statement. The Constitution is the blueprint to implement that mission statement. And the Bill of Rights is our insurance policy.

Aside from the practical business of separating from Great Britain, the gist of the Declaration is that humans have natural rights granted us by God, and that those rights cannot be compromised by man. The Constitution, then, is the practical working out of how do we design a government that best protects our natural rights?

The creation of the Constitution did not give us rights. The existence of our rights created the Constitution. The Constitution just recognizes and codifies those rights, clarifying that the government does not have authority to deprive us of those rights.

The Founders were extremely paranoid about corruption and abuse of power. They designed a system to avoid as much of that as possible.

The Progressive and postmodern idea that rich white guys founded America as an exclusive country club for enriching themselves doesn't hold water. If that had been their true intent, they seriously handicapped themselves with the emphasis on rights and the checks on power that they included in these three documents. Any honest reading of the Constitution, and of the massive ratification debates that dragged on in individual state legislatures, makes one thing very clear — the Founders were extremely paranoid about corruption and abuse of power. They designed a system to avoid as much of that as possible.

Still, this Declaration-Constitution-Bill of Rights-trifecta thing is just a conservative line, right? It's just something we say because we're stuck in the past and we're in denial about the new and improved, diverse, post-gender, postmodern America, right?

As the Declaration puts it, “let facts be submitted to a candid world."

In 1839, on the 50th anniversary of George Washington's inauguration as the nation's first president, the New York Historical Society invited former president John Quincy Adams to deliver a speech. As the son of John Adams, John Quincy wrote a speech about something near and dear to his — the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He said:

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, are parts of one consistent whole, founded upon one and the same theory of government… it had been working itself into the mind of man for many ages… but had never before been adopted by a great nation in practice…

Even in our own country, there are still philosophers who deny the principles asserted in the Declaration, as self-evident truths — who deny the natural equality and inalienable rights of man — who deny that the people are the only legitimate source of power – who deny that all just powers of government are derived from the consent of the governed… I speak to matters of fact. There is the Declaration of Independence, and there is the Constitution of the United States — let them speak for themselves.

They can, and they do. They don't require any interpretation or updates because our inalienable rights have not changed.

Progressives and Democratic Socialists believe our rights come from the government, but the Declaration emphasizes that our rights are inalienable and are granted to mankind by God. By the way, we usually only use the word “inalienable" now when we're talking about the Declaration of Independence, so we often don't even understand the word. It means something that is not transferable, something incapable of being taken away or denied.

We don't know our founding documents anymore and we're witnessing the disastrous results of this deficiency. We've lost sight of what made the American Revolution so unique. It was the first time subjects who had colonized new lands, rebelled against the country they came from. Government by the people and for the people is a principle that changed the world. Most countries fall apart after their revolutions. We thrived because of the firm principles of the Declaration, and the protection of those principles in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. It's a unique system with a remarkable track record, in spite of our human frailty. But this system is not inevitable — for it to continue to work, we must understand and protect it.

From the moment the 33-year-old Thomas Jefferson arrived at the Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1776, he was on the radical side. That caused John Adams to like him immediately. Then the Congress stuck Jefferson and Adams together on the five-man committee to write a formal statement justifying a break with Great Britain, and their mutual admiration society began.

Jefferson thought Adams should write the Declaration. But Adams protested, saying, “It can't come from me because I'm obnoxious and disliked." Adams reasoned that Jefferson was not obnoxious or disliked, therefore he should write it. Plus, he flattered Jefferson, by telling him he was a great writer. It was a master class in passing the buck.

So, over the next 17 days, Jefferson holed up in his room, applying his lawyer skills to the ideas of the Enlightenment. He borrowed freely from existing documents like the Virginia Declaration of Rights. He later wrote that “he was not striving for originality of principle or sentiment." Instead, he hoped his words served as “an expression of the American mind."

It's safe to say he achieved his goal.

The five-man committee changed about 25 percent of Jefferson's first draft of the Declaration before submitting it to Congress. Then, Congress altered about one-fifth of that draft. But most of the final Declaration's words are Jefferson's, including the most famous passage — the Preamble — which Congress left intact. The result is nothing less than America's mission statement, the words that ultimately bind the nation together. And words that we desperately need to rediscover because of our boiling partisan rage.

The Declaration is brilliant in structure and purpose. It was designed for multiple audiences: the King of Great Britain, the colonists, and the world. And it was designed for multiple purposes: rallying the troops, gaining foreign allies, and announcing the creation of a new country.

The Declaration is structured in five sections: the Introduction, Preamble, the Body composed of two parts, and the Conclusion. It's basically the most genius breakup letter ever written.

In the Introduction, step 1 is the notificationI think we need to break up. And to be fair, I feel I owe you an explanation...

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…

The Continental Congress felt they were entitled by “the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" to “dissolve the political bands," but they needed to prove the legitimacy of their cause. They were defying the world's most powerful nation and needed to motivate foreign allies to join the effort. So, they set their struggle within the entire “Course of human events." They're saying, this is no petty political spat — this is a major event in world history.

Step 2 is declaring what you believe in, your standardsHere's what I'm looking for in a healthy relationship...

This is the most famous part of the Declaration; the part school children recite — the Preamble:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That's as much as many Americans know of the Declaration. But the Preamble is the DNA of our nation, and it really needs to be taken as a whole:

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The Preamble takes us through a logical progression: All men are created equal; God gives all humans certain inherent rights that cannot be denied; these include the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; to protect those rights, we have governments set up; but when a government fails to protect our inherent rights, people have the right to change or replace it.

Government is only there to protect the rights of mankind. They don't have any power unless we give it to them. That was an extraordinarily radical concept then and we're drifting away from it now.

The Preamble is the justification for revolution. But note how they don't mention Great Britain yet. And again, note how they frame it within a universal context. These are fundamental principles, not just squabbling between neighbors. These are the principles that make the Declaration just as relevant today. It's not just a dusty parchment that applied in 1776.

Step 3 is laying out your caseHere's why things didn't work out between us. It's not me, it's you...

This is Part 1 of the Body of the Declaration. It's the section where Jefferson gets to flex his lawyer muscles by listing 27 grievances against the British crown. This is the specific proof of their right to rebellion:

He has obstructed the administration of justice...

For imposing taxes on us without our consent...

For suspending our own legislatures...

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us...

Again, Congress presented these “causes which impel them to separation" in universal terms to appeal to an international audience. It's like they were saying, by joining our fight you'll be joining mankind's overall fight against tyranny.

Step 4 is demonstrating the actions you took I really tried to make this relationship work, and here's how...

This is Part 2 of the Body. It explains how the colonists attempted to plead their case directly to the British people, only to have the door slammed in their face:

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury...

They too have been deaf to the voice of justice... We must, therefore... hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

This basically wrapped up America's argument for independence — we haven't been treated justly, we tried to talk to you about it, but since you refuse to listen and things are only getting worse, we're done here.

Step 5 is stating your intent — So, I think it's best if we go our separate ways. And my decision is final...

This is the powerful Conclusion. If people know any part of the Declaration besides the Preamble, this is it:

...that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved...

They left no room for doubt. The relationship was over, and America was going to reboot, on its own, with all the rights of an independent nation.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The message was clear — this was no pitchfork mob. These were serious men who had carefully thought through the issues before taking action. They were putting everything on the line for this cause.

The Declaration of Independence is a landmark in the history of democracy because it was the first formal statement of a people announcing their right to choose their own government. That seems so obvious to us now, but in 1776 it was radical and unprecedented.

In 1825, Jefferson wrote that the purpose of the Declaration was “not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of… but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm… to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take."

You're not going to do better than the Declaration of Independence. Sure, it worked as a means of breaking away from Great Britain, but its genius is that its principles of equality, inherent rights, and self-government work for all time — as long as we actually know and pursue those principles.

On June 7, 1776, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania State House, better known today as Independence Hall. Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced a motion calling for the colonies' independence. The “Lee Resolution" was short and sweet:

Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

Intense debate followed, and the Congress voted 7 to 5 (with New York abstaining) to postpone a vote on Lee's Resolution. They called a recess for three weeks. In the meantime, the delegates felt they needed to explain what they were doing in writing. So, before the recess, they appointed a five-man committee to come up with a formal statement justifying a break with Great Britain. They appointed two men from New England — Roger Sherman and John Adams; two from the middle colonies — Robert Livingston and Benjamin Franklin; and one Southerner — Thomas Jefferson. The responsibility for writing what would become the Declaration of Independence fell to Jefferson.

In the rotunda of the National Archives building in Washington, D.C., there are three original documents on permanent display: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. These are the three pillars of the United States, yet America barely seems to know them anymore. We need to get reacquainted — quickly.

In a letter to his friend John Adams in 1816, Jefferson wrote: “I like the dreams of the future, better than the history of the past."

America used to be a forward-looking nation of dreamers. We still are in spots, but the national attitude that we hear broadcast loudest across media is not looking toward the future with optimism and hope. In late 2017, a national poll found 59% of Americans think we are currently at the “lowest point in our nation's history that they can remember."

America spends far too much time looking to the past for blame and excuse. And let's be honest, even the Right is often more concerned with “owning the left" than helping point anyone toward the practical principles of the Declaration of Independence. America has clearly lost touch with who we are as a nation. We have a national identity crisis.

The Declaration of Independence is America's thesis statement, and without it America doesn't exist.

It is urgent that we get reacquainted with the Declaration of Independence because postmodernism would have us believe that we've evolved beyond the America of our founding documents, and thus they're irrelevant to the present and the future. But the Declaration of Independence is America's thesis statement, and without it America doesn't exist.

Today, much of the nation is so addicted to partisan indignation that "day-to-day" indignation isn't enough to feed the addiction. So, we're reaching into America's past to help us get our fix. In 2016, Democrats in the Louisiana state legislature tabled a bill that would have required fourth through sixth graders to recite the opening lines of the Declaration. They didn't table it because they thought it would be too difficult or too patriotic. They tabled it because the requirement would include the phrase “all men are created equal" and the progressives in the Louisiana legislature didn't want the children to have to recite a lie. Representative Barbara Norton said, “One thing that I do know is, all men are not created equal. When I think back in 1776, July the fourth, African Americans were slaves. And for you to bring a bill to request that our children will recite the Declaration, I think it's a little bit unfair to us. To ask our children to recite something that's not the truth. And for you to ask those children to repeat the Declaration stating that all men's are free. I think that's unfair."

Remarkable — an elected representative saying it wouldn't be fair for students to have to recite the Declaration because “all men are not created equal." Another Louisiana Democrat explained that the government born out of the Declaration “was used against races of people." I guess they missed that part in school where they might have learned that the same government later made slavery illegal and amended the Constitution to guarantee all men equal protection under the law. The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were an admission of guilt by the nation regarding slavery, and an effort to right the wrongs.

Yet, the progressive logic goes something like this: many of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, including Thomas Jefferson who wrote it, owned slaves; slavery is evil; therefore, the Declaration of Independence is not valid because it was created by evil slave owners.

It's a sad reality that the left has a very hard time appreciating the universal merits of the Declaration of Independence because they're so hung up on the long-dead issue of slavery. And just to be clear — because people love to take things out of context — of course slavery was horrible. Yes, it is a total stain on our history. But defending the Declaration of Independence is not an effort to excuse any aspect of slavery.

Okay then, people might say, how could the Founders approve the phrase “All men are created equal," when many of them owned slaves? How did they miss that?

They didn't miss it. In fact, Thomas Jefferson included an anti-slavery passage in his first draft of the Declaration. The paragraph blasted King George for condoning slavery and preventing the American Colonies from passing legislation to ban slavery:

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights to life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere... Determined to keep open a market where men should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce.

We don't say “execrable" that much anymore. It means, utterly detestable, abominable, abhorrent — basically very bad.

Jefferson was upset when Georgia and North Carolina threw up the biggest resistance to that paragraph. Ultimately, those two states twisted Congress' arm to delete the paragraph.

Still, how could a man calling the slave trade “execrable" be a slaveowner himself? No doubt about it, Jefferson was a flawed human being. He even had slaves from his estate in Virginia attending him while he was in Philadelphia, in the very apartment where he was writing the Declaration.

Many of the Southern Founders deeply believed in the principles of the Declaration yet couldn't bring themselves to upend the basis of their livelihood. By 1806, Virginia law made it more difficult for slave owners to free their slaves, especially if the owner had significant debts as Jefferson did.

At the same time, the Founders were not idiots. They understood the ramifications of signing on to the principles described so eloquently in the Declaration. They understood that logically, slavery would eventually have to be abolished in America because it was unjust, and the words they were committing to paper said as much. Remember, John Adams was on the committee of five that worked on the Declaration and he later said that the Revolution would never be complete until the slaves were free.

Also, the same generation that signed the Declaration started the process of abolition by banning the importation of slaves in 1807. Jefferson was President at the time and he urged Congress to pass the law.

America has an obvious road map that, as a nation, we're not consulting often enough.

The Declaration took a major step toward crippling the institution of slavery. It made the argument for the first time about the fundamental rights of all humans which completely undermined slavery. Planting the seeds to end slavery is not nearly commendable enough for leftist critics, but you can't discount the fact that the seeds were planted. It's like they started an expiration clock for slavery by approving the Declaration. Everything that happened almost a century later to end slavery, and then a century after that with the Civil Rights movement, flowed from the principles voiced in the Declaration.

Ironically for a movement that calls itself progressive, it is obsessed with retrying and judging the past over and over. Progressives consider this a better use of time than actually putting past abuses in the rearview and striving not to be defined by ancestral failures.

It can be very constructive to look to the past, but not when it's used to flog each other in the present. Examining history is useful in providing a road map for the future. And America has an obvious road map that, as a nation, we're not consulting often enough. But it's right there, the original, under glass. The ink is fading, but the words won't die — as long as we continue to discuss them.

'Good Morning Texas' gives exclusive preview of Mercury One museum

Screen shot from Good Morning Texas

Mercury One is holding a special exhibition over the 4th of July weekend, using hundreds of artifacts, documents and augmented reality experiences to showcase the history of slavery — including slavery today — and a path forward. Good Morning Texas reporter Paige McCoy Smith went through the exhibit for an exclusive preview with Mercury One's chief operating officer Michael Little on Tuesday.

Watch the video below to see the full preview.

Click here to purchase tickets to the museum (running from July 4 - 7).