Wednesday, February 27, 2013
President James Wagner of Emory University was trying to be positive and offered a perfectly correct example from history which shows that Americans can reach political compromises even in very polarized times. But any mention of the 3/5ths rule is of course gasoline on the fire to self-righteous Leftists so he has been roundly condemned for the words below. Demonstrators with placards included:
The language of the Constitution is itself the product of carefully negotiated compromise.
One instance of constitutional compromise was the agreement to count three-fifths of the slave population for purposes of state representation in Congress. Southern delegates wanted to count the whole slave population, which would have given the South greater influence over national policy. Northern delegates argued that slaves should not be counted at all, because they had no vote. As the price for achieving the ultimate aim of the Constitution—“to form a more perfect union”—the two sides compromised on this immediate issue of how to count slaves in the new nation. Pragmatic half-victories kept in view the higher aspiration of drawing the country more closely together.
Some might suggest that the constitutional compromise reached for the lowest common denominator—for the barest minimum value on which both sides could agree. I rather think something different happened. Both sides found a way to temper ideology and continue working toward the highest aspiration they both shared—the aspiration to form a more perfect union. They set their sights higher, not lower, in order to identify their common goal and keep moving toward it.
The NYT covers the aftermath