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(3) Common defense (from Article I, Section 8).

(4) Knowledge (authority to promote public education, support arts and sciences, fund extensive research).

(5) Exploration (to justify funding “curiosity and boldness.” Both Nos. 4. and 5. come from a convoluted reading of the clause granting Congress the power to issue patents.)

(6) 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

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.

Matthew Spalding, director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for American Studies at the Heritage Foundation (, is executive editor of “The Heritage Guide to the Constitution.”