The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Constitutionalism Vs. The State

The Wisdom Of Barnyard Bruke

Greetings to all in Henderson and Hancock counties. May this letter find you well prepared for the spring rains and in good spirits, enhanced by warmer weather.

After 9/11, many prominent politicians pronounced small government conservatism dead. As there can be noticed a falling away from Ronald Reagan conservatism by observing the decline reflected in the "compassionate conservatism" of George W. Bush.

Some point to the fact that we are living in a dangerous world and big government conservatism was somehow needed to defend ourselves.

Conservatives, in order to win future elections, would need to make peace with this idea.

Limited government must be distinguished from small government. There are instances, in fact, where government can be big and expensive, but at the same time its purposes remain limited.

National defense would be an example of legitimate purpose of big government, in terms of spending with limited purpose.

Our freedom can be enhanced with limited government, even though huge sums of money are expended.

For example, we were not less free when government liberated Western Europe in WW II or fought in WW I. Government spending on prisons and courts do not make us less free.

Libertarians argue that every dollar that government spends comes at a cost of freedom. They hold that all government is oppression and that government and freedom are opposites.

Their thinking originally comes from Machiavelli, a great analyst of force and fraud, of open and hidden power.

His thought was that there is no difference between just and unjust government, which according to him are the same phenomenon called by different names.

Just government is the type we agree with and profit from, and unjust is the opposite kind.

But the American founders and great statesmen have always sharply distinguished between just and unjust government (or put another way between free and tyrannical forms of government.)

Our Declaration of Independence is a great meditation on the difference between the absolute despotism contemplated by King George III and the freedom Americans hoped to enjoy under their own form of self-government.

Our ancestors believed that republican form of government, such as ours, were good because they affirmed human liberty, were grounded in human nature, and operated by law and consent.

American founders thought republican government should be devoted to the protection of its citizens natural rights. They also felt such governments , particularly of the local level, might provide instruction in morality. Their feeling was that republican habits and customs are needed to shape a republican citizenry who can keep government limited and who have the character to make liberty something good and enduring.

Our founding fathers were interested in the kinds and distribution of powers confirmed by the constitution.

They developed separation of powers to prevent the worst and enable the best kind of government. It was designed to prevent tyranny by not allowing one or more branches to escape the law or to encroach on the other branches.

The objects and purpose of the federal government was to be kept to a few great ends-diplomacy, national defense, and regulating interstate commerce.

The means to achieve these great ends was thru the constitution as seen in light of the principles of the Declaration of Independence. Limited government must be constitutional government.

The modern government, which arose after "The New Deal" was opposed to limited constitutional government. The political science of the progressive era argued that the founding fathers limited government of their time did not apply and was powerless to solve 20th century problems.

They argued that natural rights for frontier farmers made no sense in an interdependent, industrial society.

The progressives argued that freedom did not come from nature or God, but instead was a product of the state and is realized only in the modern state.

Because servants can be unfaithful, the state was no longer viewed by the progressives as the people servant. Progressives view the state as the full ethical expression of the people.

Conservatives and libertarians rose in opposition to this view point, however it was often confused with opposition to government in general.

Woodrow Wilson insisted that, "living political constitutions must be Darwinian in structure and in practice". The constitution, it was argued, must be free to adapt and evolve.

No limitations on government power, whether property rights, speech rights, gun ownership rights or even religious freedom, can be allowed to infringe on government's ability to bring about historical liberation.

The old or natural rights have to be sacrificed in order to achieve the new rights of self-fulfillment.

Political tyranny was no longer the ever-present threat that it was considered to be by James Madison or Alexander Hamilton.

Liberals ever since, "The New Deal" have argued that limited government must become unlimited, in order to prevent the few from becoming tyrannical.

The few now become well connected capitalists of "economic royalists" hiding behind the facade of democracy.

FDR in a 1932 commonwealth club address stated, "Government is a contract under which rulers were accorded power, and the people consented to power on consideration that they be accorded certain rights."

The people give rulers power and the rulers give the people rights.

Rights are no longer natural or God-given, but emerge from a bargain struck with government.

The liberal statesman or leaders keep the bargain current by constantly redefining rights, adding new ones and subtracting some of the old ones, in order to keep the living constitution in tune with the times.

Entitlement rights, rights created and funded by government, replace natural rights.

The liberal feels we no longer need to keep a careful eye on government anymore, because the more power we give it, the more rights and benefits it gives us back.

Examples are Social Security, Medicare, prescription drug benefits, unemployment insurance, farm program payments, the right to drive, the right to fly and on and on.

Probably everyone can think of rights the government has restricted or plans to: to keep and bear arms is under threat, driving rights can be removed for various a sundry reasons, the right to discipline your own children is restricted, labor laws can be restricted, the small dairy farmer as well as many small butchering shops have been regulated out of business, banking laws are restrictive, and try driving a semi-tractor without getting stopped for something, no smoking laws, seat belt laws, fire detectors and CO2 detectors in the home are later infractions on liberty and natural rights.

Whatever happened to the thought that your home is your castle?

This list goes on and on. The control made with the progressive liberal under the new interpretation of the constitution puts many natural God given rights at risk.

"The tales then begins to wag the dog," from the conservative point of view.

One should contemplate those thoughts thoroughly as they go to the polls next November.

Where does your candidate stand on these issues? This applies to politicians on all levels, national, state and local.

See ya later.
Barnyard Bruke