by Matthew Spalding, Ph.D.
The just-completed Capitol 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).
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.
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.
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.
Read all about it.