On the foundation of this enlightened consideration of basic realities, our Nation's Founders then constructed the Constitution, and the Republic, as the Law of the Land. We know today the details of much of what they discussed, and between the records of the constitutional convention, and the Federalist and Anti-federalist papers, we can enter a world where depth of thought and much wisdom sought to balance conflicting views of human nature, and deep and often profound moral principles.
If we compare our modern political dialogs, the op-ed essays in newspapers, and the verbal essays on such as Fox News, to the thinking of the Founders and the philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment, we are certain to end up feeling great pain for modern pundits know little of the nature of rational discourse, the rules of rhetoric or any of the other basic skills of logic and thought organization which is necessary to illuminate the real nature of modern social issues. Instead they give us opinion without facts, spin pretending to be truth, and reasoning that would not stand for a moment in the face of direct examination in a modern university class on logic or law.
The main reason this happens is because none of the forums in which these opinions, most often merely seeking to rationalize a foregone conclusion, are expressed, is a forum in which the thought content must be examined, and dissected in the way true rational discourse requires. Since there is not need to justify an opinion before other minds, anything can be and is said.
Let's just look at a couple of the obvious kinds of flaws that today masquerade as thoughtful opinion. Sentences frequently begin with a generalization, such as "liberals" do this, or "conservatives" do that. Since there is no real content to such a generalization, that is there is no true class of human beings that neatly fit such a loose and abstract term, the sentence can have no meaning. In fact, anyone paying attention to life will have already noticed that when you get to individuals who might fit such classes (such as members of the "Christian right"), the individuals seldom fit the class. They might agree with some part of an imagined "Christian right" ideology, but not other parts. The result is that the sentence is merely a fiction, and lets its speaker or writer spout off their favorite nonsense.
A second factor to be recognized is that a lot of this kind of opinion-giving arises in an environment in which the speaker/writer is being paid. Many of these so-called thinkers make their living giving opinions, and in modern life what we really have in these cases is only something meant to entertain or provoke. Ann Coulter is a good example of this lame profession - clever speech pretending to be thought. She makes her living being offensive, a kind of Don Rickles (a sometimes famous "insult" comedian) of the op-ed circuit. But lets not act as if this entertainment represents any kind of reasoned discourse to which any meaning or significance need be attached.
Then of course, there are the politicians, who have also become experts at giving voice to matters in environments where the rationality and meaning of the discourse is never challenged. George W. Bush, for example, packs his audiences with empty headed fans, and makes speeches designed to illicit cheers. The truth, or facts, or logic or even graceful language, have no place in such spectacle - witness the pointless word-tsunami that has accompanied the politicization of the tragic plight of the woman on the feeding tube in Florida.
The result of all this is that our public dialog is empty of meaning and significance. The gift of the word is thrown away, and speech and writing become nothing but vain noise - the mindless braying of animals, who have forgotten what it means to be human, and to posses thereby the power of rational thought.