There has been a lot of conversation during the last election cycle about the Founders and their principles. As I have observed the conversation, I have determined that there is only one political party that has an outspoken record in favor of the founding principles of the republic. It is the Libertarian Party.
I am not a Libertarian and have no plans to be. I recently ran as a Republican in the 5th district congressional primary in Tennessee. But I spoke with many Libertarians during the Primary cycle and am a big fan of John Stossell, who, in his work with ABC and now with FOX News, is an unashamed Libertarian. Granted, many Americans cannot abide the Libertarian platform positions on drug legalization, etc, but their views on the founding documents are worthy of evaluation. They have tried to remain true to their “compass”.
Since the unconstitutional federal government grabs of the 1930’s, American policy makers have struggled between allegiance to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and their insatiable desire to get elected and hold power for as long as possible. You see, it is easy to promise voters all sorts of goodies at the expense of some other poor schmuck citizen or guilt-ridden economic group. Roosevelt garnered four elected terms under this premise.
Numerous U.S. House and Senate members have served for as long as many can remember bringing back the “pork” to their districts and states. As a young citizen, I even remember reveling in the fact that Senator Sam Nunn was Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Why? Because his power on that committee meant that our hometown defense contractor, Lockheed Marietta, would be getting the plum airplane contracts for the foreseeable future. How misguided!
Having studied the founding documents, I began an in-depth study of the Founders themselves. What was the world like in which they lived? How did economics work with the political paradigm of the time? To whom did they turn for advice in crafting a better society? What role did Christianity, the Bible, the Torah play in the crafting of the republic? To my great concern, I discovered that we were way off course. We had been functioning like the proverbial frog in the skillet, being slowly burned to death without ever realizing it.
Well, I am now wide awake and realize that both major political parties have partaken of the same “big government” potion designed to poison the republic crafted by the Founders. How is this happening right in front of our eyes? One reason is because we have assumed that our current situation is the baseline from which we move forward. That is, we make policy decisions based upon our current, often unconstitutional, positions. We are floundering inside a dense fog thinking we are making progress because we have moved from our previous position. In reality, we are way off course because we have not consulted our “compass”.
This disastrous fallacy is one to which the Founders did not subscribe. They refused to remain under a monarchical regime with whimsical power eight thousand miles away. They corrected numerous inequalities via the amendment process. They recast ideological beliefs under the microscope of real life governance. But, unlike us, they always came back to the Founding Documents, their governing compass.
The governing compass in the 1860’s was not the institution of slavery, which had existed in the colonies since 1609. The governing compass in the 1910’s was not the historical norm that refused women’s suffrage. They looked to their guide book and made decisions from it, rather than their current state of reality. Even in the face of rogue Supreme Court decisions (Dred Scott) they constantly referred to their governing compass, the Founding Documents.
So when policy issues come before us regarding the role of government, we should be checking our “compass” and not our current position for the right pathway. It’s the fastest and easiest way forward.