If we are to err, rather than err to the side of caution, let us err to the side of liberty.
Nobody special said that but it that has been in my head for a couple of days.
I’ve been thinking about the progressive left’s newfound respect for the Constitution of the United States of America – how they now want California to secede and to also invoke an Article V Convention of the States. Given that they are only in this mood when they have just had a spanking and they would never have read the Constitution far enough to get to Article V unless the right had mentioned it after the 2008 presidential election. Now they see themselves as the rational cool kids – per Zoe Lofgren (D–Empire of California) – as opposed to the knuckle dragging, Tea Party, Gadsden flag waving rubes from 2008.
Rather than my usual visceral opposition to all things leftward leaning, I’m thinking this is one I can get behind.
I think it is important to remember that America started as an experiment. The Founding Fathers were keen on new things and testing ideas. There had never been a country of the sort they were contemplating and they had no idea of it was going to work – as a matter of fact, that was still in doubt until after the War of 1812. It should be no surprise that these men probed every corner of their intellect as they searched for the mechanism to preserve liberty. I personally think that is why they left us with a controlling framework based on principles rooted in Natural Law and left the implementation to us (this is why the Electoral College and the 10th Amendment are so important because they allow each state to decide what its people want without forcing the entire country to accept what New York, Washington and LA want).
Some examples are the fact that Jefferson thought a constitution should be revised every 19 years. Thomas Paine believed in “Ground Rent”. In his 1797 pamphlet, Agrarian Justice , Paine advocated the use of an estate tax and a tax on land values to fund a universal old-age and disability pension – as well as a fixed sum to be paid to all citizens on reaching maturity – are or are not considered “progressive” ideas by modern standards.
Was Jefferson advocating a “living” constitution? Was Paine a red diaper doper baby, advocating what we would call “big government”? Was he saying that legislation was the tool to improve society, i.e. social engineering? Is he advocating collectivism or “social justice”?
Some would say that it is an insult and apostasy to even suggest that the Founders held collectivist ideals. I’m sure that Paine might have been branded a communist (if the term had been invented at the time) – and yet Paine is one of the Founding Fathers. THIS is precisely why I note that that “politics” are a function of the times contemporary to the people and the actions and beliefs of individuals can only be defined or explained in context with those times’.
I’ll also point out that Paine’s pamphlet was published 7 years after the full ratification of the Constitution, so he was talking about how the new government should implement the new Constitutional provisions, not the creation of the Constitution itself – what Paine appears to be advocating is state implemented collective land ownership and something that is considered a “progressive” policy today. Based on his statements, Paine surely thought such a thing was within the realm of constitutionality.
Unlike today’s progressives who experiment with perfecting the people, the Founders were experimenting with the perfection of liberty. The most important thing they knew was that they knew nothing – that’s why they based the country on transcendent, immutable Natural Laws. THOSE were the ONLY things of which they were confident.
Can the implementation of Constitutional principles go wrong? You bet – they can and they have.
We have a country today where I feel sure that over half of the population could not even define liberty – and couldn’t care if the food stamps and the Obamaphones keep coming. They think that “liberty” means having someone (not themselves) take care of the “mundane things” for them. They think “liberty” means the government forcing the “evil rich” to send them a check. These people aren’t going to be swayed one inch by a discussion of what the Founders intended the role of the Supreme Court to be or a close reading of the definition of what constitutes a Natural Born citizen. They couldn’t identify a Natural Law if it was the only Law in a police lineup.
But I’m not Hobbes. I do believe that people can govern themselves and as Kant said, people can’t stay ignorant forever. Reality can’t be held at bay by government in perpetuity and she is a bitch of a teacher when she is unleashed in her full fury.
So let us help the progressives open Pandora’s Box and remember that if we are to err, rather than err to the side of caution, let us err to the side of liberty.
4 thoughts on “Erring on the Side of Liberty”
the Article V Convention of States is a process to propose Amendments only. My understanding is that all valid Amendments never detract from the Constitution but rather add to its basic principles which are themselves dictated by the Declaration’s emphasis on Individual rights.
As such the 16th and 17th Amendments are suspect……and likely not valid in this respect. The 16th because it directly opposes the Constitution in Article 1 sec 8 and further Article 1 sec. 9 ( no capitation or direct tax etc…). And the 17th because it ended the States appointment of Senators which flies in the face of the 10th Amendment ( as well as Article 1 Sec 3 )…..and thus of the very essence of Republican governance itself.
So likewise the call for the ending of the Electoral College flies in the face of Republican government as outlined in Article 2 Sec 1.
So with all due respect to Th. Paine and his later musings….. I submit that those musings are in fact NOT conducive to Liberty at all…..but rather represent compulsion by the State. It is yet another testament to the Founders brilliance that they established an outline of proceedure for Amendmentd which could NOT readily alter the basics of the Constitution. As it shows all future generations ( that’s us now ) that much of the product of the Federal gov’t has indeed been Contra-Constitutional and destructive of Liberty. BUT……we also have the opportunity to rectify it…..by understanding that such Entitlement schemes are in fact NOT in line with the Constitution itself nor really even legally binding within the framework of our Constitutional Republic.
A Convention of States offers us the opportunity to bring True Liberty back by re-emphasizing the Federal gov’t as deriving its legitimacy ONLY from the States and thus from the Citizens of those States. A practical list to attain this includes Budget restraints….term limits…..restrictions on the Judiciary as to legislating from the bench, and an ending to the SCOTUS self-made claim to be the ultimate decider of Constitutionality. Re-affirming our gov’t as a LIMIT on power rather than the execution of power would be another goal of such a Convention.
True – but prior amendments can be repealed by subsequent amendments like the 21st repealed the 18th.
I don’t think the Bill of Rights falls under that…. I may be mistaken.
The 18th was…..as the subject of your article is Liberty…….antithetical to the very Basics of the Constitution and individual rights.
Was just reading an e-mail news update that Senator Ted Cruz has introduced a Senate Bill
to Amend The Constitution to initiate TERM LIMITS on members of the House and Senate!
No mention of limits (years), but any limits on House and Senate members is greatly needed!
Of course Majority Leader, Senator Mich McConnell, 31 YEARS in House And Senate, is
apposed to ANY term limits. He says the voting public can vote out any member? Ha Ha!
I’m confident President-elect Trump will sign this legislation if–and–when it gets to his desk!
Lets Make America Great Again!