In The Washington Post article “It’s time for Progressives to Reclaim the Constitution,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. concludes, “Those who would battle rising economic inequalities to create a robust middle class should insist that it’s they who are most loyal to the Constitution’s core purpose. Broadly shared well-being is essential to the framers’ promise that ‘We the people’ will be the stewards of our government.”
Let me see if I have this right: Broadly shared-well being is essential to the framers’ promise? Debbie and I have been many times to Monticello, including a return visit just this spring. And the estates of Madison and Monroe are in the same part of Virgina. Jefferson, Madison and Monroe were neighbors.
Unless our eyes and ears were deceiving us in our Virginia visits, it is just a bit of a stretch to say that these owners of huge estates were the least bit interested in “shared-well being.”
The Preamble of the Constitution reads, “Promote the general welfare.” That is promote not provide, and general welfare hardly has a ring of “shared well-being.” Among our Constitution’s Articles and Amendments, none is devoted to economic inequalities, a robust middle class, or shared well-being—or, for that matter, democracy.
So, with that backdrop, I checked in for the views of my friend Bob Levy, Chairman of the Libertarian-based Cato Institute. Debbie and I are enthusiastic Cato benefactors and meet with Cato scholars throughout the year. I asked Bob for his take on the above progressives-centric “shared well-being “proposition.
Bob replied, “Regarding Dionne’s column, its standard polemics claiming that our principle constitutional values were meant to be democracy and equality. There’s very little historical support for that proposition. The framers’ focus was on liberty, as secured through a constitutional republic.”
In that the word democracy does not even appear once in the Constitution, the story, it seems, kind of ends right there. Progressives since the time of Woodrow Wilson (an even worse president than Obama, Clinton, Carter, Johnson or Roosevelt) have destroyed the America intended by our Founders. The Supreme Court and the Fed have been co-conspirators. And it would be unfair not to include the big government, nation-building, conservative fraud that was the George W. Bush presidency.
Click to my recent post “The Imperial Presidency” for some additional background on just what the progressive approach has done for Americans recently.
Finally, this summer take a trip to Monticello with the family for a look at what Liberty is all about. Before you head out, order a copy of the Cato Institute’s Constitution/Declaration of Independence booklet. It features an insightful preface by Cato senior fellow Roger Pilon on the brutally abused General Welfare Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause. Debbie and I know Roger and his wife well and are proud that we have an opportunity to often get to visit with the real leaders of liberty, constitutional fundamentalism, and small government in America—the Cato Institute scholars.
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