The title quote by Harvard professor Jill Lapore during an excellent roundtable discussion on This Week With Christiane Amanpour captures the meta-argument that we all have to divert some small portion of our attention to: The argument between any one faction’s absolutism, on the one hand, and the continued dialectic of competing views reconciled through formal and informal procedural mechanisms on the other.

Each of us will feel a stronger affinity for one or another of the arguments presented in the discussion linked to above, and insist that that argument represents the one absolute truth. But recognizing that the debate itself is the essence of our freedom, and the life blood of our popular sovereignty, is the shared recognition to which we must all return, allowing the tension between foundational principles and our lived history to be played out within the crucible of a vibrant constitutional democracy.

In other words, those who insist that the growth in power of our federal government over the course of American history -starting with the drafting of our Constitution (which strengthened the federal government over the failed Articles of Confederation), and playing out through The Civil War (which ended the disintegrative cesessionist/nullificationist version of States Rights doctrine as a reality of our national existence), continuing with The New Deal, and sailing on into the present- is a betrayal of our Constitution, and those who feel that it is the realization of our national history through the framework of our Constitution, both have to realize that their voice is not the only voice, their view is not the only view, and this dialogue we are having is the hallmark of our success as a nation and a society.

I am more concerned about those on both sides of this and related debates who are adamant that their own dogmatic false certainties are the one and only Truth than I am about those who disagree with me, but have the humility to realize that none of us have the final answers, and that all of us are participating in an on-going endeavor.

As a progressive, I am not determined to force my particular substantive certainties down the throats of others, but to engage both those who agree and those who disagree in a process which favors reason and goodwill, and disfavors blind dogma and angry fanaticism. I have enough faith in what I believe to be true that I am willing to subject it to such a test, and enough humility to know that I prefer the outcome of that test to the blind dominance of what  I currently believe to be true.

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