tv The Constitutional Convention Compromise in Politics CSPAN October 9, 2017 6:45pm-7:51pm EDT
from the ronald reagan presidential library in semi valley, california, a constitution day lecture titled "the lost art of compromise," pepperdine professor discusses the framing of the constitution and argue that's contemporary leaders should mirror the founders. they hosted this event. it is just over an hour. >> excellent. i'm the chief learning officer here at the ronald reagan presidential foundation and institute. on be behalf of our colleagues, i want to welcome you to tonight's constitution day lecture. as is the case at every event we do here at the ronald reagan presidential library, we like to start program with the pledge of allegiance and especiallily to day in honor of the 16th anniversary of 9/11.
we want to give respect to those who bravely fought for our country. please rise. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. >> thank you very much. please be seated. so i want to start off by acknowledging our partners in planning today's event. rosemary, i just want to say thank you so much for the generous reception that happened beforehand. it's always an honor to work with the two of you and your commitment both to education and to this place is truly remarkable. even we're honored to work with you and the thousand oaks women federated. so thank you very much. i also want to thank at the end of this evening courtesy of our friends at the ash brook center cop yifz a book edited, selected
and introduced by dr. gordon lord. i believe we have enough copies for everyone in the audience. so he will be signing copies of this at the end of tonight. so just an -- in addition to free food, you get a free door prize. what better way to celebrate the blessings of liberty than with gordon's book? so september 17 sj going to mark the 230th anniversary of the signing of the constitution. if president reagan were here, n. this room, i think he would be very happy to know that all of us gathered to day to mark this occasion. one of the quotes that president reagan was very famous for was freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. we don't pass it to our children in the bloodstream, it must be fought for, protected and handle on for them to do the same. so smimdz this quote is used to talk about defense, president regular juan as famous for his peace through strength and this quote is used to defend defense. but defense isn't the only way to preserve freedom. so just like a football team, doesn't matter how great your
defense, is if the offense can't put a few points on the board. so consider tonight education as freedom's offensive unit. and today dr. gordon lloyd is going to be playing the role of quarterback, pass is freedom from one generation to the next. excellent. as you see from his talk tonight, he's going to be a hall of famer on that team. so the topic is the lost art of compromise. since the beginning of our country we have in some ways been defined by opposing forces and factions, patriots and loyalists, north versus the south, big states versus small states, big city versus the countryside, old versus young, good versus evil, freedom versus tyranny, red states, blue states, republicans versus democrats and, of course, for all you baseball fans, the giants versus the dodgers. over the past couple of decades, our nation has become increasingly polarized politically.
to the point where merely working with someone from the opposite party can often mean getting voted out of office the next time you come up for election. on the 230th anniversary of the constitution, what can we learn from the framers about compromise? and what about what compromise means in the spirit of something greater than any one of us in that american idea that's been around since long before any of were here and will exist and remain long after the conflicts of our generation have been passed on to the historians? before i introduce dr. gordon lloyd, i want to read just a brief excerpt from president reagan's speech from almost 30 years ago on the 200th anniversary of the constitution. he said, "to look back on that time at the difficulties faced and sur mounted can only give us perspective on the present. each generation, every age i imagine has prone to think its devil bessette by unusual and particularly threatening difficulties. to look back on the past is a golden age when issues were not so complex and politics not so divisive when problems did not
seem continue to tractable. sometimes we're tempted to think of the birth of our country as one such golden age. the time characterized by harmony and cooperation. in fact, the constitution and our government were born in crisis. the years leading up to our lea convention were some of the most difficult our nation has ever endured. it wasn't the absence of problems that won the day in 1787, it was the presence of something higher. the vision of democratic government founded upon those self evident truths that still resound in independent hall that enablesm them to rise aand transcend their differents and this constitution that would alter not these united states, but the world. it is now my pleasure to introduce a man who knows a thing or two about that document and one of our favorite visitors a man i call a friend.
america's professor and the unforgettable, dr. gordon lloyd. [ applause ] >> thank you. that is very good. i want to reiterate what tony has said about thanking our benefactors and i want to also thank you for coming out on this balmy evening to hear about the constitution and it is good to see some friendly faces as well as some old faces that i hope are still friendly. and the young faces which i see from year to year and they seem to get younger. which is -- i think a good sign. being a professor still, i have three points to make. but i promise that i could always do 1-a, 1-b, 2-c, 3-d and
spring it out. but the first issue that i want to raise is this whole notion of the art of compromise. tony gave me the topic of the last art of compromise which sort of confines me so i can't wander so much through the website as i would maybe like to and tell all kinds of naughty stories. but the -- so my first part really is we can't talk about the lost art of compromise unless we know something about the art of compromise. the second is to give some examples from the constitutional convention and as tony mentioned, president reagan pointed out that we were not born in simple harmony, there is something called faction and it is sewn in human nature, for all of you over there, and it is --
it's in human nature and to expect we will live in a factious free world is to be living the impossible dream which is impossible. so i want to give some examples from the constitutional convention of how you deal with fraction without falling apart. and what we could learn from the constitutional convention and this day of celebration of the constitution, which signing is on september 17th. and the third and final point i i want to explore with you in particular, where do we ggo fro here. if we manage to show there is something called the art of compromise and it is lost, when did we lose it, how did we lose
it, and what do we learn about that gaining and losing from our journey in the constitutional convention, why bother with that journey and where do we go from here. what can be retrieved if it ought to be retrieved. so those are the three main points i want to converse with you about. now, what i would like to do, we have an hour together an hour and 15 minutes, but let's say we have an hour together. what i would love to do is speak for about half an hour, and then open it up and hear what you have to say and ask me questions. i've often had this notion of standing in front of a podium and saying any questions. and i did that once when i retired from full time teaching at pepperdine and the first
question that i got was how are you feeling? so i don't think i'll quite open with any questions. so let's talk first then about this notion of the art of compromise. and it might come as a surprise, but the word "compromise" is made up of two parts. com and prize. and com is latin and it means together. the idea of a association with. and prommize, if you pronounce it differently, it means promise. so compromise, if we just pars it, these -- a promise based on a agreement, notice that the
word rule or orders or something is not in there. it is us together, figuring things out, we're not giving up ourselves, but we are working things out as a community. it is compromise, now there is a lower meaning of compromise which simply means let's cut a deal and that is the usual understanding. i don't think that requires a particular art. i think that the art of compromise is something that requires when we say art, he we don't mean standing in front of an easel and painting or be artistic. it means there is a practical art that is -- that is how do i go about persuading people or explaining something to an audience that is not appealing to their lower nature, but try to explain and persuade. so i would like to emphasize
that the lost art of compromise could be puts how we lost the art of seeking the highest level possible. when i was growing up, i remember being taught that politics was the art of the possible. the more i think about it, a better way and a improved way of putting it is the art of the best possible, so you have the art of the possible maybe just simply the ordinary politician who cuts a deal and runs. and gets this -- and to use a modern compression, kicks the can down the road. just gets us out of a difficulty and doesn't care about the long-term side affects. that would be mean a mere politician, the art of compromise. then there is the other utopian visionary person who only wants to engage in the art of the
best. and that is a person who will never -- whose projects will never see the light of day. unfortunately in our schools, particularly in our schools, we have this -- again unfortunate call to students that the way that they should view their education is to change the world. and i would say, why don't you change yourself and leave me alone. i don't see why your idea should be to change the world. what has the world done to you. and the understanding is make a difference. to heck on you. make a difference to yourself. why is utopian vision -- transforming the whole human race. what is wrong with that? why can't you live with differences. and any way, so my point is that
the art of compromise as i would like to see it is not simply the art of the best, or the art of the possible, but the art of the best possible. and so to fast forward to the opening lines of the preamble to the constitution, it is we the people in order to create a more perfect union. it doesn't say to create a perfect union. but it doesn't say we are going to put up with a union that we had before because we know there were problems with the union we had before and no union could be perfect so how do we make something more perfect. we could make it perhaps perfect if we got rid of liberty. because why do we have faction? because we are free to be naughty. so we could get rid of it and give everybody the same opinions, the same passions, the same interest and we've done with it, you think that is
impossible. 1984, brave new world, those kind of things are in fact thinkable. what the opposite? in addition to what i've talked about, because i've made the opposites being the art of the best, the art of the possible, the art of the best possible and i'm going for the art of the best possible. and i think that is where the constitution manages to achieve. what else should we look at in terms of opposites as we go through this art of compromise. often i learn by looking at opposites, what things might not -- might not be. so for example, this is the 230th anniversary but nothing particularly entertrinning tra entertaining or grabbing about 30 or if you are over 30 and don't trust anybody and don't
trust anybody under 30 and you don't understand that joke unless you lived in the '60s. but there is nothing particularly interesting or compelling about 230. maybe there le will be at 250. but there was something compelling at 150. and that was during the great depression and fdr. and he gave the 150th anniversary talk at -- of the constitution -- the signing of the constitution. and the phrase which he thought was the most important phrase in the entire constitution was we the people. and the way in which he and his associates interpreted that phrase is there ain't nothing that we the people can't do. and that the constitution therefore is a vehicle, an empowering document through which we the people can do pretty much what we want to do. the metaphor that franklin
dellen or roosevelt raised the war or crusade metaphor. that is the whole project of fdr is government is here to provide a solution. the chief executive is the officer or commander-in-chief to provide that solution. and we the people give a mandate, look at the word "mandate", man doesn't have to do with gender, it has to do with hand, mano and date doesn't have anything to do with dating. it has to do with to put -- to put in the hand of. to command. to mandate. and so what fdr looked upon in 150th anniversary of the constitution was a mandate from the people, an order from the people of the united states to
use government through the constitution whose three important three little words were we the people to accomplish great ends and to alter the nature of society and transform society. it is interesting, as tony was reading the -- the reagan contribution to the 2 hundredth anniversary of the constitution which occurred during reagan's presidency, that he too refers to we the people. but when reagan referred to we the people in his presidency, it is we the people tell the government what to do, rather than the government telling we the people what to do. it is not that we the people through government are going to do things, but reagan is making the case that the government of we the people is a limb ilted government. what fdr is doing by referring to we the people, it is a government which is a living constitution which can do pretty
much what we mandate the government. so it is a very interest conversations i hope that we can have concerning the best, which is possible, the idea of the possible, the idea of the best, and this notion of, let's say, consent, which i think -- which i think is a very important concept which emerges from the idea of compromise. in other words, there is no idea of mandate in a compromise. there is no idea of ruling. there is an idea of coming together and consenting and what is it that makes a compromise work? we promise. or we agree. the word mandate has the implication of i order you to do this. so i don't think that we could have the art of compromise unless we have a commitment to the notion of a consensus or at
least to consent. and this is particularly important in the government which is inclined to being a democratic republic. which relies on consent. thus if you have a whole bunch of different people together and you are going to say we are a government by consent, it is going to be extremely difficult to pull that off. let's us remember, one of the things that we're celebrating today is that no government, you might say well this is not something you celebrate, but if i finish this sentence you will figure it out. that no government in the history of the world has lasted forever. and the worst form of government failure is a civil war. and that means that the people are unwilling to come together and be one. they would rather divorce. and i think that is something
which is an important point to think about. let me end this first part dealing with the practical arts and sciences, fdr, reagan, compromise, mandate, consent, with a matrix, and a matrix you could put up like this consent, like it, let's say, compromise, like it. compromise, don't like it. why would anybody in their right mind not like compromise. the idea is because it settles for less than the best. it also creates perhaps -- imprecise government and it producing maybe an ungovernable situations and it may even lead to a situation where we do kick the can down the road, so why would somebody not like compromise? because it seems to suggest that
we're dropped our values. or we've -- or we're no longer interested in the right thing. and as is that something that we want to teach our children and become educated. don't do the right thing. do near the right thing. so that would be something why you wouldn't like compromise. but we'll get to that in the last section. then if we -- the other parts of the matrix would be war. consent in war. consent i like. concept i don't like. or compromise i like, or compromise i don't like. war, i like. who would want to like war. the answer is wiping out war on poverty, war on obesity, war on children who can't read, war on whatever. but politics becomes a war. it becomes the war metaphor and thus we judge our institutions in accordance with whether they
could win this war or solve that problem. who would like war? those who want to solve problems. who don't -- who doesn't -- what kind of person would not like war? those who think that we'd rather work it out -- between ourselves, consent, muddle through than to have orders say delivered by a judiciary, orders through executive orders, orders through a bureaucracy, et cetera. so let me leave you with that. the substantive part i'm going to cut and rely on you to ask me some questions on this. but i want to cover three points. and that comes to the website. when it says explore the american founding up there, you could see there is actually four website but i'm going to cut one of them. constitutional convention, the federalist anti-federalist debates and the radification of the constitution and the bill of rights. those are the four founding
documents and what we're looking at which i will call the constitution for this evening. and what we want to look at is to what extent the art of compromise in the high sense being there and in what sense is the art of compromise in the low sense of how to deal there, to what extent is compromise not there at all and we can in fact defend that. the constitutional convention, tony, if we were to turn to the four act drama, i have broken the constitutional convention into a four act drama, because if you pick up the debates, it is about a thousand pages and people will roll their eyes and sometimes including me, who have spent my entire life trying to read them. and so not as a substitute as cliff notes but as a way of
trying to encourage people to stay the course, to stick with the material. i have broken it down into a four act drama. it is almost sounds shakespearean or plat onic. the answer is yes. i think what matters as put together is report about the founders creating the constitution rising to that level. it is a wonderful piece of work. and last year for those of you who were here, i think we give that book out or was it the year before, i -- the new edition of that and that is a -- that is aavailable for practically nothing. and i don't get anything as a result, which is my contribution to a country that decided to have me. and i won't go into further immigration stories at this particular stage of the year. but i am an imgants.
along by the way with 20% of those who signed the constitution. act one, the alternative plans. well you can't have them all. so what is going on? well, at first of all, it is laying down the rules. laying down what kind of rules. well conversations don't happen, the compromises just don't happen. you got to make sure that there are rules laid down that people at least appear that they are listening. that they -- if they fall asleep, somebody sitting next to them will nudge them. and sort of wake them up for that moment and they will smile at you and think that you didn't notice. so laying down the rules and it is like no one shall speak trice unless one has speaken first. that -- those kinds of rules. which are very important. it compromise and conversations -- not you.
no, just ignore it. right. thank you, c-span. the 15th -- let me make a point, what -- why are they here? they're here to make a more perfect union. from what? the articles of confederation. what was wrong with the articles of confederation and could a cording to -- according to mattis, it has a structural problem. what is the structural problem. we the people do not fit into it. how come? because it is a league or appliance between pre-existing 13 states and we the people do not fit into the union, we fit into each state. there are other people who go there, not to change that structurali
structural issue but to change the powers to give congress more powers but how are they going to be vote, at a convection. they suggest that james mattisson, let as takele this right on straightaway. what do you mean. what i mean is this. if we are going to make we the people into the into the -- into the equation, that means we'll provide representation based on the people rather than representation based on the states. so that the people of virginia, the people of pennsylvania have -- should have more representation than the people of rhode island, well yes, true, they don't bother to show up any way and the people of new hampshire. so we want to have popular representation rather than one state, one vote. so why don't we start off right away, said morris, with that rule. and in terms of how we vote at the convention. madison said, to mr. morris, if you do that right at the beginning, everybody is going to
go home. why don't we try to persuade the delegates from new hampshire to give up that principle and see the art of compromise in terms of coming around to a system based on we the people. which means we have to educate them how to become americans. and that is going to be a long education. madison sherwin exchange in scene four. so madison introduced a virginia plan. all right. are the people more happy in small states than large states. mr. sherman said people are happier in small communities where they know each other. look out for each other. madison said all are better to saft mu shaft you my dear, people know your business and therefore they will not leave you alone. so this becomes the question.
should we -- should we go for small communities joined together loosely, or should we go for one large community whereby people could be str-- spread out. if you spread people out, they are more likely to compromise rather than to advocate their own little position within their own little territory. that becomes a huge issue. how are you going to compromise that? very difficult and so at the end of act one, madison tends to whole suede but not all the way. in act two, we have a compromise. it is called the connecticut compromise from sherman and ellsworth. what are they suggesting. they are suggesting toward the end of act two, why don't -- it is not -- that is not just let's make a deal. let the people be represented in the house.
and let the states be represented in the senate. that would be a simple deal and let's go home. but the art of compromise is can we come up with an accommodation through consent that we could agree to, which perhaps we hadn't thought of before. and this is where we get the connecticut compromise. and that is why don't we -- why don't we say that we are going to be party state based for certain things, and partly nationally based for other things. so what would -- what would we be state based for. controlling crime for example. education another. another one would be health and welfare issues or what would we be interested in doing together, general welfare and common defense and could we come to an agreement and an associated agreement based on not just cutting the differences, but
seeing that as a new principal where the senate represents states protected the states and the house represents the people and the people but we understand the federal government is not going to do everything. well if that is finally agreed to, after 44 days of the 88 days that they were there together, and there was some down sides and some bad days. well, if you take a look at the decision day on the connecticut compromise, scene five, you will see that the -- the connecticut compromise -- it was accepted on a 5-4-1 vote. now, wait a minute. aren't there 13 states. rhode island never showed up. brings us down to 12. what is next? well new hampshire hadn't shown up yet because they didn't have any money.
you can't compromise if you don't show up. new york got ticked off. hamilton left because he was bored. and call me when you get serious. and then rest of the new york delegation, the other two members of the new york delegation -- there were three members, hamilton and two others and the other two were there out voet him and since hamilton left and the other two delegates didn't like the way the compromise was going, partly national and federal, they left in disgust. so there is another limitation to the art of compromise. that if you are so bound to the position, which you entered with, that no persuasion can move you, and then you get on
your high horse and not just say, well i'm sorry and i'm staying. because you are so ticked off you walk out. and then you have to ask, how persuasive can you be if you walk out. why don't you just bang your shoe on the table while you're at it. again, you have to be almost in your 50s -- in the 1950s to figure out that one. i'm talking to an older audience. i'll talk to the young audience. and before we -- before we move on, so we figure out ten. with limitations, couldn't from compromise if you don't show up or if you leave in a huff. but what kind of compromise is a 5-4-1 vote. you don't think automatically it is a compromise. a compromise would be like a 10-0 vote or a 9-1 vote.
but 5-4-1, that is a -- that is about as close as you could get. how could you call that a compromise. the answer is, if we go by the higher level, not just cutting a deal, but the idea of thinking outside of the box, thinking in a way differently, can we pursue a different path, five say yes, four say no. among the four delegations that say no, is virginia and madison doesn't like it. he doesn't like the vote. so a question comes to mr. madison, what do we do. and here is a very important part of the art of compromise. do you go out in a huff? do you go to the streets? do you hire a lawyer? or do you say the prayer which
says i accept those things which i cannot change. the serenity prayer. and sometimes that is extremely difficult to do if you've entered the convention trying to change things fundamentally, which madison wants to do. so he had to say the serenity prayer and he accepted it and moved on. and that then permitted different kinds of issues to come up. i will just talk two last examples before i move to the final part of -- which is part three. and that is that a committee is created, first part, a committee is created called a committee on detail, a five-member committee which provides the first draft of the constitution. and that is what the delegates go through in act three.
a laborious process. compromise requires commitment to detail. there is one delegation that of all of the -- of the delegation, the 11 delegations who are well regularly there, one delegation the members of which are always in attendance. south carolina. and you get an incredible amount of leverage when you are always there. and i've often wondered how come south carolina managed to leverage the weak moral position on slavery into such a strong position within the whole assembly. the answer is -- one answer is, any way, the folks wanted union. and so union -- if you want union, you may have to pay a price that you otherwise would not want to pay.
and at south carolina also was influential because all of the delegates were there all of the time. this committee on detail report among other things received word from the south carolina -- the member of the south carolina delegation just before it met, if this -- if this draft of the constitution comes up with anything which is inclined toward the emancipation of slaves, or inkleined toward ending slavery in any way, south carolina shall not ratify. shall -- that south carolina delegation shall not sign. well that is -- that is pretty tough. how do you engage in compromise when you are in fact being threatened. or what are you willing to give up in order to save the union or
have a more perfect union. it is a more perfect union better than no union at all. sometimes the choices in life are between terrible and terrible-er. now i'm speaking to the young. something to look forward to. because at this very moment, you are doing something which the next generation are going to find unprogressive and blame you for being short sighted. i'm not happy, but i will move on. but the message that came out of the committee on detail is that congress shall never ever have the power to control the slave trade. ever. that is south carolina. now why is this so important?
because both sides in the slavery question, both sides realized that what happened to the slave trade was a harbinger of what would happen to slavery. i often like to look at a committee report and see whether or not it passes easily in the full house or gets stopped and if you look at the month of august where the delegates go through this committee on detail things sail through regularly except for that clause which says congress shall never ever control the slave trade, ever. and a big fuss was put out. and what happens? a compromise was reached. and what was the compromise? create a committee.
isn't that -- one from each state and they all talk. and it is fairly clear to me any way from reading these -- that madison wanted the slave trade to end right then and there. he was willing to compromise within the committee for 1800. new millennial, new birth of freedom. the kprit -- committee comes out with that report. let's end the slave trade in 1800. so here you have it. on the one level it is never, ever. over here you have madison now and willing to go to 1800. so what does south carolina do? they say how about 1808. and madison is furious.
and you think, well never and 1808. but if you read history today, you think that the framers wanted to enshrine slavery through the slave trade and the question is what did they do between 1789 and 1808. the the answer is loves. which we could talk about. in 1808 a law was passed banning the slave trade. what is the point to that. the point is it raises an interesting question about what to compromise and what not to compromise. i have talked about the constitution as demonstrating the art of the best which is possible, the art of compromise in the highest sense. but i'm wondering whether that art of compromise presupposes as a condition certain things that
we all agree on that we will not compromise. give you an example. as part of the constitution it says that there shall be no titles of nobility. it doesn't say except for -- it says no titles of nobility. we will not compromise on that. so we're not going to compromise on feudalism. it says pretty much in every state -- no prime jenitior, that means land shall not be passed to the first born male. that is a huge alteration in property rights. it says we shall have no monarchy. it doesn't say we shall have a limited monarchy or a compromised monarchy but no monarchy. so there are certain things in which monarchy and feudalism with an asterisk and property rights -- and we shall have no
established religion. so once one agrees on certain things that you won't compromise on, maybe then it is easier that define issues that you can compromise on. what was my asterisk? my asterisk was on feudalism. and what -- one of my points that i've been wrestling with is how come -- how come this new world that is america and the caribbean, how come there was one area that they -- that they brought from the old world. they didn't bring established region or -- religion or monarchy, but a new form of feudalism which was slavery. and so the question becomes is that going to go away naturally. or is lincoln put it later on, can we have this -- have this
compromise and half free and half slave. and the answer is no. you cannot have it as a permanent solution to be half free and half slave. you must be totally free or totally slave. and then we can compromise. and i think the framers, i think lincoln would agree with me, is that the framers tried to put slavery in the course of ultima ultimate distinction but not every next generation is better than the previous one. for example, we like to think the 20th century is important, but it has the holocaust and some other things. not necessarily better than the 19th century not necessarily, so that we may have this progressive view of histories that history evolved, you are on the right side of history. what the heck does that mean. history always makes the correct decision. and by the way, what is history? who is history?
i haven't met him. i haven't met her. hello, history, how are you? i have no idea. but somehow history makes a left ward march or a progressive march and we're better off tomorrow than we are today. evolving. how many times have you seen that people don't necessarily evolve well. and i don't mean that we grow old well. i mean that there is human nature that does not necessarily come out well. all right. so i wanted to make that and now i conclude. where do we go from here? i could just go on and on and keep you from asking the question. but i'm not going to do that. i think that those who see the solution is somehow -- the solution to where we are. red state, blue state. dysfunction as tony said all over the darn place. how do we end that?
well, once solution that is being tossed around quite a bit is that we should give up on congress. it is -- it's an institution which has passed its day, it is gone, it is useless. in fact the entire constitution is useless. it is an 18th century document and has nothing -- so we should shred the constitution and particularly shred congress. why? because we are living in a world where problems have to be solved. what i am suggesting, if you believe in the ort of compromise, then what you are thinking about is that the roll of politics is to settle issues. not to solve problems, but to settle issues. but isn't that kick the can down the road for the next generation. just give them something to do. but you can't settle everything. that means i could settle you,
the next generation before you even born and solve the problem before you are even born. no. if life belongs to the living, then the living have got to grow up and understand the art of compromise for themselves. and not just say i'm traumatized. you don't need the art of compromise, you need the science of therapy. so where do we go from here? we could say, as just mentioned, just do away with this nonsense of talking about a congress. what the hell -- what do they do any way? we elect them and they do nothing. what are they supposed to do. solve problems but we say settle issues. instead of solve problems. what we need is a stream line executive that could get things done. and have nobody stand in the
president's way. i've heard that from trump supporters and obama supporters that congress is standing in the way of president. well how then is the president to rule? however the president cares to rule. after all, we're at war. we're at war. and on what? well bring up the latest whatever -- that is what we're going to do, we're going to solve stupidity, and solve this and something else to solve. we're going to solve it. we're at war. i don't agree with that solution. that we should rely on the executive. but what about the judiciary solving things. well, i'm not particularly interested in letting the judiciary. they have a role to play, an important role to play, but i don't think they have a role to play in jumping into the system and deciding ahead of time what we the people can or cannot do.
well, so what are you going to suggest? well, it is a long project. we the people have to start at the beginning and where is it, where do we start? we start in the schools. and what do we do in the schools? we have to realize that we have to teach. and not teach just how to teach, but what to teach. and something like this, i just left it very, very straightforward, i could go on for ages, i don't need much of a wind up. and i have found teachers telling me that they find it helpful. i have a text book approach and you have the visual approach and the biographical approach and i was there approach. i don't know what it is going to take, i don't know what it is that turns people around but people have to turn around.
another -- specific education. in just little pieces here and there. another suggestion is -- so that is two. one is do not give up on the legislative branch. somehow we need to resist the temptation to rely on executive orders and judicial orders. and that requires us to then be for state legislative branches as well as a congressional branch. and the second is civic education. absolutely important, it's difficult because teachers are finding it more and more difficult. i am so proud of seeing so many young people in the audience. and my students are here too and they are graduate students. i think it is -- people have asked me, yet do i think that students are getting more and more stupid as time goes by. and the answer is no. just look at them on that -- the thing. they learn that a -- an iphone
is not for phoning. right. i would have thought a phone is for phoning. no they have ittal figured out. it is not for phoning. it is for doing all kinds of other things. they're not dumb. they just don't read texts. you think then they are so stupid they can't read. apparently. when i ask a student for example, first paragraph of federalist number one, what does it mean. oh, i can't read that. who could read that. it must have been the elites of the 1780s that read that. listen, that was an opinion editorial of newspapers, right. that is where it was. it is not that they were elites, it is that we haven't been taught how to read.
third and final point, we could perhaps engage in -- is to seek your ideas. and i would like to see some -- of you holding, not just necessary conferences, but chatting with each other about what you think that the country -- for example, how can you have a democratic republic with 330 million people. this is not an anti-immigrant talk. it is -- nor is it let as go to one child policy of china. what i'm raising is that going back to sherman versus madison, people are happier and they also may be freer in smaller community where they know each other than in large communities where they don't.
and i think it would be important to create that kind of atmosphere. and as a professor, i said that was the last point but you should know better. the very absolute last point is that i wish that we would stop thinking that the problems could be -- are -- that the problems which we have to be fixed by mechanics. say we'll remove this part and put that other part in. we remove this part and put -- it has to do with the whole idea of our attachments to the regime. and our attachment to what it is that makes freedom ring. so may the blessings of liberty be with you. thank you. [ applause ] >> think we have a few minutes for q&a. does anyone have a request for
dr. lloyd? >> yes and then yes. yes, you first. >> i was wondering the art of the [ inaudible ] -- the art of the deal with trump, you know they are fussing about him dealing with mitch mcconnell and pelosi on this debt kind of thing that went on, they are saying he didn't get anything in return for compromise. how is that? he was trying to work the art of the deal with these people for the debt relief and they are fussing because he doesn't get anything in return. >> who is fussing? >> oh, well the -- the other party, let's put it that way. >> you mean pelosi -- is fussing that they didn't get anything in return? so trump's folks are fussing they didn't get anything in return. >> right. >> well maybe he wasn't offering anything they wanted. >> thank you.
>> bring it on. >> thank you. >> hi, i have three parts. >> oh, no, no, no. that is -- professors are loan are permitted to give three parts. >> so here is the question. >> yes. >> do you think that neo mar. ism ysh why don't you lower your voice. >> do you believe that [ inaudible ] has undermined the interpretation aof the constitution and if so how do you compromise in this political climate. >> i think the second part answered your first part and i think the answer is yes, it has undermined interpretation of the constitution or affection for the constitution or its usefulness and how do you do it?
well you try to show if you can the limitations of marxism and post modernism. the premises of marxismism is that everything is a matter of class. so this is going on for over a hundred years that somehow the constitution is the creation of one class to oppress another class. there is a whole bunch of -- there is a whole bunch of studies that have been done in the 50s and 60s and 70s to demonstrate that there is a certain -- while -- everything there is sort of well educated. no doubt. no doubt. but class was not the main point. so one way to overcome it so to ask the question, is class the
significant variable. well, there is a division within the post modern because for the post modern, there is something in addition to if not substituted for class. the marxismism is class and i'm trying to divide the two. marxism is clearly class. everything is -- it is ruled by the upper class for the upper class of the upper class, by the upper class to shaft the underclass. and every institution, everything done from religion to monuments to whatever it is, it is a result of class war. okay. if we now start going into post martyrism, we are starting to compromise the exclusivivity of class as the variable. we're going to bring in gender. identity politics so that what has happened when you join the two together, it -- it is inviting me to go on for longer
than i should, in order to distinguish between a marxism approach but what both have in common is they don't believe the written word. so that you pick up the constitution -- what have i done with it. it is here. and you pick up the constitution and you start article one, congress shall have all power to put in affect the aforementioned powers. what do they mean by that. i take language seriously and i want to know when did that phrase come in. act one or two or three or four. what was the couldn't text for it appears and the marxism would say what are you on lloyd? why are you spending your time with language and context, don't you know that it is all a matter of class or race or gender.
why are you spat-spending this time with language. to say that the constitution matters is to say that language matters. >> does the elimination of hate speech subsequently eliminate free speech? >> it can. i don't think it follows logically but let us go back to the premise of a democratic republic. ultimately power is vested in the people. and if powers is vested in the people, it is possible for the people to say that. that hate speech will -- we want hate speech to limit free speech. what is a majority of the people in the united states said that. you would say, well the supreme court would come back and say you can't do it.
well, i'm here to say if we can't over turn what the supreme court said by a mendment to the constitution or hoping that the older folks will die, or pack the court, then we're not a democracy. so why should we think -- i know you are not saying this but i'm using it as -- why should we think that the constitution belongs to whatever the court said it is. presidents have this tendency over the last 60, 70 years to think we are the president. or i am the president. and therefore i am king. or the virtual king. and therefore whatever i say goes. i could create this executive order and well mr. president, where in the constitution does it say you could do executive orders. i have satelli i have legislative power.
where in the constitution does it say you have legislative power. stop me. congress isn't. where does it say that the -- that the constitution belongs to the court? i think one of the most debilitating phrases that is going around today is we live under a constitution but the constitution is what the court says it is. so to answer your question, free speech could become hate speech if we the people want it to become that. hopefully through civic education and checks and balances it won't. >> we have time for one last question. >> om come on, we have all night. i'm just warming up. i had to give that lecture first which was boring. >> hello. good evening, everybody. my name is tanya mercado and thank you for having. >> the blessings of liberties
upon you. >> there was a young lady who mentioned a question about what the trump administration got out of the compromise with regard to the debt ceiling. the compromise was $15 billion for emergency hurricane aid relief and averting a government shut down. so i'm -- that is a pretty good deal. so my question for you, dr. lloyd is, is the constitution alive or is the constitution dead? >> wrong question. but i will answer it. neither. because it is a loaded question. because to ask the question is the constitution alive is to suggest that -- or dead means that we either have a living constitution or we have a dead constitution. but the word living constitution is so loaded a term that it
means for example perhaps whatever the supreme court says it is. because it doesn't -- because the words itself can't bring alive -- bring it alive. so i think part of the debate that is going on between a living constitution and this originalism is wrong headed. we'd be -- part of my answer and doesn't get us far enough into the notion of constitutional -- to say it is a living constitution suggests that if it weren't for the executive branch or the judicial branch, giving life to the words, we wouldn't have -- what would be the point of the constitution. all it is -- this is just words. how do we get it to be alive. somebody has to make it alive. we make it alive through mand mandates or elections or through the judges or make it alive through the president but the
word itself, then you have your originalists who think the word speaks for itself. well that is true if you use the word "and." well i understand what and mean. you're awake! [ laughter ] [ applause ] >> thank you very much. >> yes? >> please join me one more time in thanking dr. gordon lloyd for his remarks tonight. [ applause ] you're watching american history tv all weekend every weekend on cspan 3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook at cspanhistory.