Guest Commentary: To regain our liberty, we must all be Founding Fathers now
by Michael S. Yashko / Naples
May 30, 2009
Newsweek magazine recently proclaimed, “We are all socialists now.” Maybe it’s true. We just don’t seem to have it in us anymore. We’re no longer the country of rugged individualists portrayed in the movies. Americans have grown dependent on the federal nanny state. And, they seem to like it. John Wayne doesn’t live here anymore.
So, let’s gather in Philadelphia, draft a Declaration of Dependence and submit these facts to a candid world:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that without federal government intervention, we cannot take care of ourselves, our families or our neighbors; that we are endowed by the cynical benevolence of Washington politicians with certain unalienable rights, and that chief among these are taxpayer-funded happiness and well-being.
“And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on our own inadequacy, we pledge to the federal government our blind loyalty, our incomes and our sacred liberty.”
But, maybe Newsweek was wrong — a modern day “Dewey defeats Truman” moment. Average citizens, previously too busy bettering themselves and doing right by their neighbors to be “activists,” are realizing that their country is being changed in a fundamental and irreversible way. America is finally succumbing to socialism’s 100-year assault on the founders’ Constitution.
We’ve reached a tipping point, a moment in history when the core philosophy of our nation is being reset for good.
Let’s face facts. We are founding our country anew. Only the Revolutionary War and Civil War periods rival the coming four years in importance. If we are intellectually honest and aware, it’s clear that we are being forced to choose: become full-blown socialists or turn back to our historical roots as a constitutional republic.
Time is short. This “third founding” will be complete within the next four years. This is our last chance to take back the power we’ve ceded to Washington.
Did Newsweek get it wrong? We’ll know soon enough. We’ll have an idea of what road we’re on after the 2010 midterm elections. The morning after the next presidential election, we’ll know for sure.
It’s late, but the battle of ideas has finally been joined in earnest. I say “in earnest” because people finally realize that both political parties are speeding us down F.A. Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom.” People finally grasp that the choice is not between Republicans and Democrats, but between an intrusive federal nanny state run by both parties or a movement by the people to take back the power originally reserved for them by the founders.
The founders’ constitutional republic protected individual liberty. Their decentralized government ensured that the people could govern themselves locally — those most directly affected had the most say. In the centralized, mass democracy we’ve become, this federalism is a historical footnote.
And, it wasn’t an accident. According to Claes Ryn, a professor of politics, the political philosophy which nurtured this federal monster is a “moral hoax” because it allows big government’s proponents to “ooze benevolence for people in the abstract.” They don’t have to do concrete things for specific people. It’s checkbook morality: “moralism made easy.”
The Supreme Court has aided and abetted this transformation of the founders’ Constitution by ignoring or rewriting the clauses limiting government power.
In “Restoring the Lost Constitution,” Randy Barnett vividly describes the result: “The Constitution that was actually enacted and formally adopted creates islands of government powers in a sea of liberty. The judicially redacted Constitution creates islands of liberty rights in a sea of governmental power.”
How do we tame this monster? Barnett answers in “A Bill of Federalism” (Forbes.com): We must demand that the federal government return the power it has usurped and restore the original balance of power between the federal, state and local governments.
But legally and politically, we can’t ignore the Supreme Court cases that put us here. We must amend the Constitution and reinvigorate our founders’ concept of federalism. Then, we can assume control over our own lives again, just as the founders intended.
Like the founders before us, we must debate this central question: What is the proper role of government in the lives of free people? Either we will re-affirm the philosophy and virtues of our founders and re-invigorate the constitutional republic they created, or we will take the final step to European-style socialism.
I see ahead the last off ramp on Hayek’s road to serfdom. Let’s take that exit marked “individual liberty, limited government and free enterprise.” Join the debate. We are all Founding Fathers now.
Yashko is the managing partner in Florida for the Roetzel & Andress law firm. However, he says these are his own views. He is a graduate cum laude of Northwestern University Law School.
Eloquent, wouldn't you say? Will you take up the torch and call yourself a Founding Father, and commit yourself to the preservation of liberty and individual sovereignty? I know I shall. We must wretch liberty from the jaws of political sacrifice.