While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s words yesterday were equally hilarious, disgusting and hypocritical, the problems with the brand new Capitol Visitor Center run deeper than Reid’s own personal, well-documented disdain for America and Her people. This new exhibition area is, quite literally, a $621 million slap in the face of our nation and everything for which She stands.
The Capitol Visitor Center is, as Dr. Matthew Spalding of The Heritage Foundation writes, “Congress’ temple to liberals’ ‘living Constitution,’ the eternal font of lawmakers’ evolving mandate to achieve the nation’s ideals.” It conveys the idea that America is better because of government rather than the diametrically opposed ideal held by our founders and by conservatives that America has thrived and will thrive despite government, and it scrubs nearly every mention of God, religion and faith from our nation’s history, the latter no doubt an attempt to appease those who buy into the notion that our Constitution somehow creates the separation of church and state (the Establishment Clause, remember, merely stated that Congress shall not establish a national religion, and said nothing of worship in schools, the Ten Commandments in the town square, or a mezuzah on the office door of a Jewish lawmaker).
As with the proposed–and thankfully scrubbed–Enola Gay exhibit at the Smithsonian, or the initial proposals for Ground Zero in New York City, we somehow refused or otherwise forgot how to explain the past and convey the lessons to be learned for the without drastically re-writing the history books with a pen dipped in a font of political correctness. Only, this time, the project was built — with taxpayer money.
Above all else, it strikes me that the message sent by the new Capitol Visitor Center in its very design countermands the very essence of America. No longer will the crowds be able to enter the building and see the grand rotunda. No longer will the crowds climb the expansive steps, gazing upwards at the Statue of Freedom. Instead, the new facility was specifically designed to separate Harry Reid’s unwashed masses from those in our government. That doesn’t sit right with me. After all, we elected those officials. Furthermore, our founders established this nation knowing, from their own experience with tyranny and oppression, that the only way this great experiment would work was if the power was kept as close to the people as possible, and now not only does the design of the CVC physically insulate power from the people, but it spreads false accounts of our nation’s history in the process.
A few hundred yards from where I now sit, those imperfect men who established our great nation wrote a limiting document, a document granting Congress only 17 enumerated powers, a document preserving for all to read their intent to ensure that our rights, bestowed on us by our Creator, would be abdicated by no one. The three million or so tourists, foreigners and students estimated to visit the new facility each will will be told none of that. They’ll be getting a message sanitized against religion, biased against originalist thought, promoting judicial activism, and glorifying the blatant disregard of the intentions of those who fought and bled and died to create our country.
The sad, sad part of this is that Republicans were largely in charge during the planning stages of this new facility. Either they did not read the details and fine print, or they simply did not care. Now, in this abomination on Capitol Hill, we’ve paid almost three-quarters of a billion dollars to celebrate, in glass, steel, marble and perpetuity, the complete departure from the ideas and ideals and faith of those who founded America.
Here’s the piece from The Heritage Foundation. I hope that all of you are as outraged as I am.
Liberalized Center is ‘Capitol’ Crime
By Matthew Spalding, Ph.D., The Heritage Foundation
As an expert in the U.S. Constitution and America’s founding, I thought I had lost the ability to be shocked by politically correct distortions of our history. Then I visited the new Capitol Visitor Center.
The just-completed Visitor Center, which opens Dec. 2, is a 580,000-square-foot cavern dug at the foot of the U.S. Capitol at a cost of $621 million (almost nine times over budget).
The Capitol is a noble monument to American liberty. The neoclassical architecture is meant to be approached from afar. We are supposed to walk up vast flights of stairs to enter a magnificent rotunda, inspired to reflect on the grandeur of our self-governing republic.
Now the public will approach the Capitol underground and enter, mole-like, through the basement.
What Congress has arranged for the public to be taught before they get in is a scandal.
Designed to provide “an enhanced educational experience,” the Visitor Center allows guests to make on-line reservations before spending time at two gift shops, enjoying a 530-seat restaurant, visiting any of 26 restrooms or watching an orientation film in one of two theaters, all in air-conditioned comfort.
The “educational” part is the Exhibition Hall, the theme of which is “E Pluribus Unum — Out of Many, One.” The etching in marble initially referred to that phrase as the nation’s motto. Now, however, that etching is covered by a bad plaster job, because … well, “E Pluribus Unum” is not the nation’s motto. Our actual motto, “In God We Trust,” is notably absent, along with other references to faith.
Take how the exhibit treats the Northwest Ordinance, the 1787 document that signaled the beginning of America’s westward expansion. It’s selectively quoted to encourage education — carefully shorn of its opening clause: “Religion, morality and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind …”
But what bothered me the most when I toured the Visitor Center at the request of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) — who raised a warning flag on this politically correct outrage — is what it does to the Constitution.
I always thought (because it says so) that the Constitution was about the powers delegated to government by the people, who possess individual rights. Article I begins: “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.” A written agreement on the extent (and limits) of those powers is critical to a constitution that derives its “just powers from the consent of the governed,” as the Declaration of Independence prescribes.
“If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare,” James Madison wrote, “the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions.”
Wrong, Mr. Madison. The Constitution, according to the new Visitor Center, isn’t a list of powers but “aspirations” that Congress is expected to define and realize. I guess those are like the rights the Supreme Court, in the 1960s, began discovering in “penumbras” and “emanations” of the Constitution.
What “aspirations,” you ask? There are six:
- Unity (as in “a more perfect Union” in the Preamble, which grants Congress no power).
- Freedom (based on the First Amendment, which begins, by the way, with “Congress shall make no law …”).
- Common Defense (from Article I, Section 8).
- Knowledge (authority to promote public education, support arts and sciences, fund extensive research).
- Exploration (to justify funding “curiosity and boldness.” Both 4. and 5. come from a convoluted reading of the clause granting Congress the power to issue patents.)
- General Welfare (found in Article I, Section 8′s restriction of the taxing power, but taken here to mean “improving transportation, promoting agriculture and industry, protecting health and the environment, and seeking ways to solve social and economic problems”).
See for yourself. The full text of the script and orientation film is online at heritage.org/leadershipforamerica/upload/CVC.pdf.
This exhibit is Congress’ temple to liberals’ “living Constitution,” the eternal font of lawmakers’ evolving mandate to achieve the nation’s ideals. There are no fixed meanings in their version, only open-ended “aspirations.” The Constitution is an empty vessel, to be adapted to the times, as required to bring change. It means nothing — or anything.
Not surprisingly, the rest of the exhibit details the unfolding of liberal progress and the rise of modern administrative government. Everything is about movement away from America’s sins (slavery, treatment of Indians, Vietnam) toward congressionally led enlightenment (direct election of senators, voting rights, the New Deal, Medicare).
The education experience concludes by quoting Sen. Robert La Follette, the great progressive reformer from Wisconsin: “America is not made. It’s in the making.”
According to this distorted view, we are a pluribus only until Congress makes us an unum–by remaking the Constitution in its own image.