Saturday, September 23, 2017

Thoughts on Trump’s U.N. Speech and North Korea

Following President Donald Trump’s much-anticipated speech to the United Nations in September 2017, the New Jersey Star-Ledger weighed in with The Trump policy toward North Korea is largely irrational.

Let me start by saying Trump’s speech contained some refreshing perspectives, such as defending America’s right to its own self-interest, and calling out socialism for what it is. On socialism, Trump said:

The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented. From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure.

Of course, identifying the philosophical roots of socialism—that is, altruism and collectivism—is paramount to backing up that statement. But Trump’s statement is true, nonetheless, and good to hear.

That said, Trump’s vow to “completely destroy North Korea” (as opposed to destroying its military capability or its regime) was bizarre. That rhetoric is what the Star-Ledger focussed on. I zeroed in on this segment of the editorial:

Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations and former Bush administration stalwart, called his book "The Reluctant Sheriff" to describe America's best role in the world a one that leads a posse of states that can help police the globe, making our expansive power easier to support in the international community in circumstances such as these.

And its conclusion:

To fully understand where this is headed, consult your worst nightmare.

I left these comments, edited for clarity:

I largely agree with the logic expressed here. Who actually believes that, short of an initial strike against the United States, Trump would “totally destroy” North Korea? Uncredible threats are hollow, and worse than saying nothing.

But let’s be honest. Trump has been following Richard Haass’s “posse of states” strategy, even urging the U.N to step up. He’s even gotten sanctions through the Security Council. The difference between Trump’s approach and previous approaches is that he at least understands that diplomacy with war-mongering regimes must be backed up by a credible potential of military strength.

Which leads to the most glaring omission in this editorial. “To fully understand where this is headed, consult your worst nightmare,” the Star-Ledger concludes. According to that link, the “Nuclear threat [is] at [the] highest level since [the] Cold War.” Fair enough. But we must therefore ask, how did we get here? The answer: Since the fall of the Soviet Union that ended the Cold War, we have seen a quarter Century of failed diplomacy by three successive Administrations to buy off North Korea in exchange for it giving up its nuclear program. Each time, the North Koreans took the economic goodies and went right ahead with its program. It may be true that “The need to consistently use military deterrence without diplomacy only leads to escalation.” But when dealing with war-mongering dictatorships, diplomacy without credible military deterrence—which means the willingness to use it—only appeases aggressive tyrants and leads to the brink of war.

Trump may be a loose cannon. He may not be the most thoughtful or polished leader. Those are not good qualities. But give him his due: He inherited the North Korean problem.

Related Reading:

DIPLOMACY ONLY ENCOURAGES NORTH KOREA’S BELLIGERENCE—Elan Journo for ARI Blog [This article was written in 2006.]


My Favorite (and Least Favorite) Lines from President Trump’s U.N. Address—Dr. Michael Hurd

Thursday, September 21, 2017

To Start With, Single Payer is Immoral

We are about to enter into the next chapter of what I have called “the mother-of-all healthcare battles—the battle between total government control of healthcare versus individual control in a free market. Medicare-for-All, or national single-payer healthcare, has been kicking around Congress for perhaps two decades now. Recently, Senator Bernie Sanders reintroduced the bill, with numerous, mostly far-Left co-signers.

But not all. One co-signer, the otherwise “moderate” Democrat New Jersey senator Cory Booker, just signed on. Booker’s decision was the subject of a NJ Star-Ledger column by Tom Moran. Moran is a single-payer supporter, but considers it politically impractical. On that basis, he wrote “Booker's bromance with Bernie Sanders. Let's hope it's just a fling” criticizing Booker's move to Sanders:

It didn't surprise me that Sen. Bernie Sanders chose this moment to press for a single-payer health system.

He's a good man, and he's dead right that a single-payer system like Canada's makes a lot of sense, delivering better care at lower cost. But he is as nutty as Ralph Nader when it comes to practical politics.

Sanders is handing Republicans a club they can use to beat Democrats over the head. Because a single-payer system would require a huge tax hike, and force wrenching change for everyone at a time when 70 percent of Americans are happy with their current arrangements.

Sanders has never been impressed by cold political calculations like that. That's why he ignored warnings that his endless personal attacks on Hillary Clinton might help Donald Trump win by depressing the Democratic vote in the general election.

Sanders, like Nader, is a romantic. Which is great, if you're a poet.

The surprise to me is that our own Sen. Cory Booker has joined this hapless parade.

Moran goes on to quote Booker:

"We have to stop thinking about political calculation," he told me on Friday morning. "And focus more on 'Morally what's the right thing to do?'"

Moran acknowledges that Booker’s move is itself a political calculation designed to curry favor with the hard Left to pave the way for a 2020 run for Democratic presidential nomination. “Booker is not an orthodox Democrat,” Moran writes,” and “the left is skeptical about [him].” Nonetheless, he’s critical of Booker’s move.

On Sanders’ new Medicare-for All bill, which I have dubbed SandersCare to distinguish it from previous bills, I’m not so sure Booker is on the wrong track, politically. At this time, he’s probably on the right side of the long-term political momentum in this country when it comes to healthcare.

I left these comments:

"We have to stop thinking about political calculation," he told me on Friday morning. "And focus more on 'Morally what's the right thing to do?'"

If Booker were really concerned with what’s morally right, he wouldn’t be joining Sanders in his crusade to put government dictators in charge of deciding who gets what healthcare, and when—and that effectively enslaves the doctors. He would be a huge champion of rolling back government involvement in medicine, and expanding individuals’ freedom to make their own choices about their own healthcare.

How is it morally justified to strip the remaining half of the American population that still has health insurance and force them into a one-size-fits-all government monopsony? In a word, altruism. Altruism holds a person has no moral right to his own life, because being moral consists of living for others. The opposite morality, rational self-interest, upholds the individual’s moral right to her own life and liberty; to spend the money she earns, her property, as she, not some government bureaucrat, sees fit; to make her own healthcare choices—all as sanctioned by the guarantee to all men of the equal unalienable right to the pursuit of personal happiness stated in America’s philosophic blueprint, the Declaration of Independence.

And the moral is the practical. Consequently, SandersCare is economically unworkable, and will lead to severe restrictions on healthcare, especially for seniors and the elderly, as costs explode when SandersCare clashes with the laws of economics. On the other hand, all of the incentives in a free market—consumers seeking the best value for their money from profit-motivated providers seeking to expand sales and grow—are aligned toward better care at lower prices supplemented by continuous innovation. The laws of economics compliment this freedom. That’s why free markets, by allowing all people to self-interestedly think and act freely, work to the benefit of all economic levels of society, not in some miraculous instantaneous fashion, but over time.

What Sanders understands that most of his opponents don’t is that the healthcare fight is fundamentally a moral fight. Morality is not pie-in-the-sky. Morality, not political or economic calculation, is where this will be decided. Politics reflects the dominant morality of the culture. And while Americans still have a decent amount of respect for a person’s right to act in his own self-interest, altruism is generally considered—wrongly, in my view—the essence of morality. Sanders, like all statists who want power over people’s lives, cashes in on altruism. If you have no moral right to your own life, then you have no moral right to oppose SandersCare. How will you oppose it? By standing for your political rights? A right to what? The very thing altruism says you have no moral right to, your life? To stop SandersCare, the final step in the half century long trek to end America’s role as the last bastion of freedom in healthcare, the individual’s moral right to her own life must be upheld.

Self-interest is not just a practical necessity. It is right—morally right—to work to make your own life better and more fulfilling, not by exploiting others, but by your own effort. Only on the basis of rational self-interest can SandersCare be stopped—and reforms begun toward a truly moral path, a fully free market where providers, medical products makers, health insurers, and consumers/patients can contract freely and voluntarily with each other, to mutual advantage—and the government protects those contracts against force and fraud.

So SandersCare is not just politically impractical. It is economically impractical. It is, most importantly, immoral. Freedom is moral and practical, because it leaves people free to pursue their own self-interest unmolested by the lakes of Bernie Sanders. Never mind the usual rationalizations about the needy who can’t afford this or that healthcare service. That’s the job of private charity to fulfil according to the value judgments of individuals. The needy are not a justification to coral the vast majority of Americans into a chain gang of government dependence financed by their own money. Totalitarian control or freedom and individual rights—not helping or not helping the needy—is the ultimate choice that lies at the end of the healthcare debate.

The current disfunction of American healthcare is the result of decades of ever-growing government involvement. Sanders offers up Medicare-for-All as a “fix” for what ails America’s heavily regulated, part-socialist, part-fascist, part-free healthcare industry. But that’s just doubling down on the cause of the problems. The government has had its chance at micro-managing our healthcare, and SandersCare is the final proof that it has failed. The moral high road belongs to defenders of individual rights and its corollary, free market healthcare. The “right thing to do” now is defend every individual’s right to act on his own judgement, for his own benefit. It’s time for more freedom and individual rights in medicine.


For the Left, the issue of single payer is not philosophical. It is a matter of political practicality. Moran himself says at the outset that “a single-payer system like Canada's makes a lot of sense.” Moran explains:

The idea that answering moral demands should force us to set aside political calculation is insane. Without political calculation, Abraham Lincoln could not have won the Civil War and freed the slaves. Franklin Roosevelt couldn't have enacted Social Security. Nelson Mandela might have died in his cell on Robben Island.

None of them charged straight at their goals. They maneuvered towards them, step by step, over years. They calculated.

In a nutshell, this is how the socialists moved America from an almost fully free market in healthcare to the verge of total socialistic government control.

Philosophically, they believe they’ve already won. As Sanders now says openly and with few challengers, “health care is a right.” That’s an unequivocal altruist moral statement. There’s no way to counter that assertion without properly upholding individual rights, and there’s no way to properly uphold individual rights without denying altruism and upholding self-interest.

But while they’ve been content to take one small bite out of our freedom at a time, the one thing they didn’t do is compromise on the basic, altruist/collectivist convictions that underpin those steps. “Step by step,” as Moran, one of the Left’s ranking members, readily acknowledges, they road the altruist “ideal” to a steady growth in government programs like Medicaid and Medicare and SCHIP and a steady growth of strangling government regulations on the private insurance market to the point where it now “makes sense” to engineer a full government takeover of healthcare.

There’s a lesson for the Right here. We’ll not fully reinstate Americans’ individual healthcare liberty in one swoop. But we’ll never get there if we can’t go beyond the economic case and properly defend free markets morally. Moran may be right that the “Sanders virus” is politically premature. But single payer is inevitable, barring a proper moral strategy from the free market Right.

Related Reading:

Moral Health Care vs. Universal Health Care, by Lin Zinser and Paul Hsieh for The Objective Standard

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Corporate ‘Censorship’ and Fredrik DeBoer’s Evil ‘Solution’

Especially since the 2016 presidential election, the Left has been itching for a wedge issue to open the door to government regulation and control of the marketplace for ideas—i.e., to reign in freedom of speech. Remember “fake news” and the pressure on social media companies like Facebook and Google to police its content (with the implied threat that if they don’t do it, the politicians will)?  Another wedge to statist control of speech has been proposed by academic Fredrik DeBoer for the Washington Post. In Corporations are cracking down on free speech inside the office – and Out, DeBoer criticizes the practice of some companies (and other employers) to enforce speech codes not only within its workplace but also “cracking down on their workers’ expression outside of it.” “This trend,” he says, “even extends to academia.”

Most of these people [who are fired] said something that I find, to varying degrees, wrong or unhelpful. Some of it was outright offensive. But none of it deserves firing, because none of it happened in the workplace or had anything to do with work. Rather, each of these people was let go because of statements or gestures they made outside of their working duties. In doing so, they demonstrate the ways that private employers can constitute a grave threat to our free speech rights — and expose a conflict between genuine freedom and capitalism.

There is a reason that, rather than letting legal codes alone protect expression, liberal societies rely on a robust norm of free speech. The basic processes of democracy require that we all feel free to disagree with one another in the public sphere; without such a norm, it’s impossible to deliberate as democracy requires. To abandon that norm is to give up the means by which people in democracies make decisions. When that norm has been abandoned, such as in the McCarthy era, we have considered it an injustice, and for good reason. The American Civil Liberties Union, lately a proud public challenger of President Trump and his travel bans, puts the point succinctly: “Censorship can be carried out by the government as well as private pressure groups.” Yet thinkers on the left and the right have failed, in many cases, to grapple with this.

First, DeBoer and the ACLU are wrong to blur the distinction between government and private pressure groups. There is no “conflict between genuine freedom and capitalism.” That blurring, not genuinely private pressure groups, corporations, or colleges, is the real threat to free speech.

Take corporations. A private company cannot stop you from speaking. It can only set rules or “speech codes” pertaining to the company, not throughout society. It can contractually obligate its employees to refrain from certain types of expression, and the employee or prospective employee can voluntarily decide whether to go to work for the company, or not. The company can only set rules pertaining to people who voluntarily decide to associate with it. In contrast, a government has a legal monopoly on the use of physical force. It is the institution that, unlike private individuals and their businesses and other associations, can compel, by threat of fines or imprisonment, obedience to its edicts through laws that impact everyone.  

Granted, companies and other private institutions can step over a moral line from time to time. But firing the employee is all it can do. What the company cannot do is compel by physical force, or threat thereof, obedience to its edicts outside of the organization.

And freedom provides a means of causing a change in the company’s policies. If it’s policies become too severe, it will find it harder to attract and keep workers, leading it to reign in its “censorship” both inside and outside the workplace to remain competitive. Or outside activists can expose the repugnant policy to public scrutiny, putting public pressure on the company to change its policies on speech if it so chooses.

But I works both ways. Neither can these outside agitators, even if right, force the company to change. With good reason: Freedom of speech is a vital part of intellectual freedom, and that freedom means not only the right to speak without government impediment. It means no one may be compelled by government to sanction ideas or rhetoric it disagrees with. The right to free speech does not include speaking at others’ expense or property. In a free society, force is banned as a means of settling differences—which means, the company may not force its speech codes on society in general, and neither can private pressure groups force their version of acceptable speech on all companies.

That some companies fire employees for political speech or opinions may not always be moral. But the firing does not infringe on the employee’s rights, either. It’s not a free speech issue. It’s a freedom of association property rights issue. Companies have right to fire for whatever reason, just as employees have a right to quit for any reason (consistent with prior employment contracts). Just as an employee has a right not to work for or quit a company whose code of conduct policy he disagrees with, so a company has a right not to hire (or to fire) an employee who doesn’t agree or comply with its policy. A company is a voluntary association owned by people, and the company’s rights extend from the individual rights of the individual owner[s]. If a company does not want to endorse certain ideas, it has a right not to have employees on its payroll that express those ideas. These rights may or may not always lead to good company policy. But the First Amendment and the principle of rights sanctions it. There is no threat to free speech.

DeBoer agrees that employers may rightfully require workers to comply with company speech and conduct policy when engaged in their working duties, but draws a line where workplace duties end. This is dangerous, especially so given DeBoer’s proposed solution. The idea that the free speech rights of individuals are violated or threatened by rules of businesses they voluntarily join is a dangerous premise, and DeBoer’s shocking solution proves it:

The left has argued that the fickle turns of the market inevitably erode freedom. Karl Marx and his followers famously said that only through radical egalitarianism in material and social terms could the Enlightenment ideal of personal freedom be fully realized. Today’s left-leaning thinkers have echoed this sentiment, pointing to the highly regimented conditions of workers on factory floors and in white-collar offices as proof that capitalist enterprise curtails freedom rather than protects it. The political science professor Corey Robin, in particular, has made a career out of demonstrating that the tyrannies that most consistently afflict ordinary Americans are workplace tyrannies, part of what he calls the “private life of power.” Progressives who are pleased when businesses discipline workers’ illiberal speech have lost this essential thread of leftism, arguing that if the government isn’t the one enforcing speech codes, then there are no threats to free speech. This is clearly wrong. [My emphasis]

A only institution that can effect a “radical egalitarianism in material and social terms” is the government, through its law-making powers—the power of the gun. A government with such unrestricted power to egalitarianism a population is a totalitarian state with full power to enforce state-approved codes of conduct, including speech codes. Marxism in practice proves it. As Mao ZeDong famously observed, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun, [and] only with guns can the whole world be transformed.” Political power—force—is the nature of Marxian socialism. Economic power—that is, capitalism—grows out of voluntarism.

Transforming the whole world is what Marx had in mind. Marxism seeks to overturn human nature—the natural fact that human beings are metaphysically unequal in myriad attributes, and who individually must act selfishly in accordance to his individual attributes and rational judgement in order to survive and thrive—and transform the human world around its utopian radical egalitarian vision. Despite Marx’s nod to the Enlightenment, Marxism seeks to replace the Enlightenment free society that allows individual flourishing according to individual attributes and effort with a colony of altruistic drones completely devoid of intelligent individuality and diversity save for the “personal freedom” of spoiled childlike whim worship. This obedient collectivized anthill, which systematically kills the source of material production—achievement through self-interested individual initiative and aspiration for personal advancement—would somehow supply all with their material needs.

It’s a thoroughly utopian fantasy, which is why this transformation would be achieved the only way it can be—by perpetual application of political force and violence to prevent anyone from rising and distinguishing himself apart from the collective; that is, to effect a “radical egalitarianism in material and social terms.” Marx understood this, which is why perpetual violent revolution is explicitly advocated and deliberately built into the DNA of Marxism—which in turn explains why the Marxist utopian dream, in practice, always leads to rivers of blood and the spiritual deadness of state-enforced intellectual, economic, and social uniformity. Anyone who pokes his head above the sea of uniformity, and thus achieves unequal status, must be cut down by any means. To the Enlightenment, freedom means governmentally unfettered action to work and trade. To Marx, freedom means escape from the responsibility to provide through work and trade for one’s own needs that life and his nature imposes on human beings.

This—government dictates based on Marxist utopian egalitarianism—is the evil that DeBoer says is the answer to the “problem” of alleged corporate threats free speech, as well as the threat to personal “freedom” he sees in freedom of association, freedom of conscience, and private property rights. DeBoer calls for an attack on freedom and prosperity masquerading as freedom and prosperity. Don’t buy DeBoer’s Orwellian “Slavery is Freedom” inversion. Companies that act unfairly but otherwise don’t violate individual free speech rights should be opposed through free speech, not government edicts. Keep government out of the intellectual sphere. Anyone who thinks it’s bad to be restricted by his bosses’ speech codes should consider what it would be like to live under egalitarian Marxian totalitarianism, where getting fired is the least of your worries. Hundreds of millions of people have already learned the hard way, through concentration camp incarceration, mass genocidal murder, and the stale hopelessness of life under government-enforced material and social equality.

To be sure, there is apparently a regressive trend of corporations restricting expression of “wrong” ideas beyond what is required of its productive mission, often in response to pressure from Leftist activist outside groups (consider the fired Google employee). That is a problem. The Daily Caller’s Scott Greer documents this disturbing trend in Corporations Remain The Biggest Threat To Free Speech (though I don’t agree with his premise). The anti-free speech trend in academia, given its educational mission, is even more disturbing, and should be strenuously opposed. We should not ignore the suffocating effect of this on public discourse and debate.

But the solution is private protest, pressure, and education, not surrendering our own free speech to government-enforced speech codes, which would signal the end of intellectual freedom by putting government in charge of deciding which ideas are acceptable and which aren’t. Don’t give the statists that wedge. The ACLU has done some fine work defending free speech. But it is dead wrong to equate government censorship with private “censorship” (really, pseudo-censorship). The first is broad and backed by force. The second is narrow and lacks any physical coercion. Political correctness is a horrendous attempt at private censorship, and it can do real damage to honest discussion. Imagine if it were backed by law. That’s what could happen if government begins setting speech codes.

The Left is slowly becoming more brazen in trying to resurrect Marxism. Remember the deadly
record of Marxian tyranny in practice—and the uplifting record of the freedom of capitalism’s alleged “workplace tyrannies.” There is no “conflict between genuine freedom and capitalism.” Genuine freedom and capitalism are synonymous. Marxian socialism versus Americanism: That is really the fundamental choice.

Related Reading:

Why Marxism—Evil Laid Bare—an article by C. Bradley Thompson for The Objective Standard

Related Viewing:

"Why Marxism?" An Evening at FEE with C. Bradley Thompson—Foundation for Economic Education

Sunday, September 17, 2017

On This Constitution Day, Remember the Declaration of Independence

230 years ago, on September 17, 1787, the Constitutional Convention ended and the Constitution of the United States of America was signed. This day is officially known as Constitution Day.

It was also an occasion for one columnist to declare that the US Constitution is "broken." The New Jersey Star-Ledger's Tom Moran wrote five years ago:

Kids in America are taught to venerate the Constitution, almost as if it were the word of God.

And that’s exactly what Thomas Jefferson feared. He believed it was flawed, that experience would teach each generation new lessons and that it should be redone every 19 years.

But Jefferson lost the argument. And so the Founders signed a Constitution 225 [230] years ago tomorrow that is an impregnable fortress, firmly set against the forces of change that Jefferson welcomed and almost impossible to amend.

Does that make sense? Haven’t we learned valuable lessons over the past few centuries about how democracies thrive, and how they stagnate? In a day when our federal government is so dysfunctional, shouldn't we at least consider fundamental changes?

University of Texas Professor Sanford Levinson is advocating a series of such fundamental changes to the US Constitution, which Moran discusses in his column. Levinson's proposals include instituting a direct popular vote for president and measures to greatly weaken the checks and balances that limit the power of any one branch of government. In essence, Levinson's purpose, according to Moran, is to expand the power of majority rule and break Washington's political "gridlock," which has made our federal government "dysfunctional."

Moran approvingly cites Thomas Jefferson who, as Moran strongly implies, would welcome these constitutional changes, or any changes suited to any generation.

Before we discuss ways to expand the power of electoral majority rule so as to enable the government to get more done, we need to have a conversation about what the government's proper job it is to do.

The American constitution's basic function is to limit government's power to the protection of individual rights. This is spelled out in the Declaration of Independence, the philosophical blueprint for the constitution. Any discussion about the constitution has to begin with the Declaration--which, incidentally, was written by Thomas Jefferson:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. . .

In its essentials, this 55 word statement of proper government says:

  • Rights are held equally and at all times by all people.
  • Rights belong inextricably to the individual by virtue of his nature as a human being.
  • Rights are guarantees to freedom of action; to the pursuit of happiness, not to happiness guaranteed by the labor or wealth of others.
  • Rights precede government.
  • Government is created exclusively to “secure”—i.e., protect—rights.
  • Government’s “just powers” being authorized by the people, through a popular vote.
  • “Just powers” being only those powers required for government to fulfill the purpose for which it was created to begin with—to legally protect the people’s unalienable individual rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

Of course, this is not the "Word of God," to be accepted uncritically. Each of these points requires extensive philosophical backup. None of these "truths" are in fact "self-evident." They must be learned and validated scientifically; i.e., morally and philosophically, as determined by the observable facts of reality concerning man and his requirements for survival and flourishing. But these are the essentials, as I see it.

The Founders did not intend to create a democracy, despite Moran's devious attempt to smuggle in that premise. They created a constitutionally limited republic protective of the liberty and rights of the individual, under which the constitution "carefully limits the power of the majority by drawing a legal boundry around it" (P. 113)—a boundry that stops majority and elected officials' power where individual rights begin. The Founders understood that government presupposes individual rights. So the constitutional discussion must begin with the questions: What are rights, and what is the proper function of government?

As the Declaration states, every individual is "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Since productive work is the only means of sustaining one's life and achieving happiness, it's obvious that the Founders understood--including in Jefferson's own words--that property rights are among those rights. The Declaration then states "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men." Rights—which in fact are not endowments by either nature or God but moral principles derived from observations and facts about human nature—are sanctions to freedom of action in a social context, not a claim on the lives and property of others or a government guarantee of material well-being and happiness. Notice that the constitution does not authorize government to redistribute private wealth.

Moran is wrong. America hasn't stagnated. It has "progressed" from what was a largely free country a century ago to a burgeoning regulatory welfare state—a dangerous regressionary trend. Why? Because the fundamental principles upon which the constitution rests have been largely abandoned, opening the door to the piecemeal progression toward unlimited majoritarian rule, a manifestation of totalitarianism. Consequently, our best short-term protection against further encroachments on individual rights--and it's a weak protection--is political gridlock. I can't think of anything more dangerous to America's future than to begin tampering with the basics of the constitution in today's cultural environment. Before we consider unshackling majority rule, we must rediscover our Founding principles, roll back the regulatory welfare state, and provide ironclad guarantees that no one's rights be alienated by majority vote; i.e., respect the original intent of the constitution.

The Founders did not intend to replace absolute monarchy with absolute majority rule unconstrained by the principle of individual rights. As Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) asked during a debate over the propriety of the Revolutionary War in the movie "The Patriot", "Why should I trade one tyrant 3000 miles away for 3000 tyrants one mile away? An elected legislature can trample a man's rights as easily as a king can."

The answer: We shouldn't. As Jefferson said, "the majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society." The Founders were not primarily concerned with giving the people the right to vote. They intended to liberate the people from predatory government, whether monarchistic, theocratic, or democratic.

There are those who would invert the original concept of Americanism—that the individual is sovereign and his life belongs to him—and replace it with the idea that the collective—i.e., the state—is sovereign over the individual. It is an attempted transition from republican constitutionalism to democracy; from individualism to collectivism. We cannot let the reactionaries succeed. The fight to defeat the reactionaries and restore and renew Americanism can start with this: As we celebrate Constitution Day, remember what I call the Constitution’s philosophic blueprint, or what has also been called the Conscience of the Constitution—the Declaration of Independence.

Related Reading: