Yesterday, Beto O’Rourke made news. In her Washington Post article yesterday on O’Rourke’s immigration stance, Jenna Johnson made the rather interesting point that he often favors proposing debates and raising questions rather than proposing policies. “O’Rourke says he is being open-minded, as he wishes more politicians would be,” Johnsons writes. Exhibit A in her lengthy interview with him: He raised a question about the Constitution. In a quote that’s already flown through Twitter and conservative media, he said this, when pondering whether the United States is now, in Johnson’s words, “incapable of implementing sweeping change”:
“Does this still work? . . . Can an empire like ours with military presence in over 170 countries around the globe, with trading relationships . . . and security agreements in every continent, can it still be managed by the same principles that were set down 230-plus years ago?”
This is a variation on a theme I’ve heard countless times on the left — often in response to arguments over originalism and (more recently) in response to anger at the very structure of our government itself. Why shackle ourselves to the wisdom of the distant past? How could the Founders have foreseen the challenges of the present?