* So said President Obama when campaigning in 2008. What original ideas upon which our country was founded do you believe in? Let's take a look at just how drastically our country has changed - both before and during Obama's term in office.
* The First Amendment to the Constitution starts as follows: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." The Founders wanted no official federal religion. But a number of states did in fact have their own official state religion. Nevertheless, each individual was still free to practice their own religion. But our freedom to practice our religion has come to be interpreted by the Courts to be a freedom from religion. Thus, we see courts regularly barring religious displays from the public square, and prayers at public high school sporting events and graduations, and other public ceremonies. Is this removal of religion from public life a positive or a negative? It is always good to consider what will replace religion in its absence.
* Washington was thinking just that when he said: "And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion...reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."
* What should be the purpose of government? Our Founders understood that our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and the basis of our laws, came from G-d. Starting with the Progressive movement of the late 1800s and early 1900s, that idea was felt to be discredited. The Founders drafted a Constitution intended to protect the individual and his property from their own government. They understood the nature of man. Therefore, they provided for a federal government of limited, enumerated powers. Even so, they provided for a system of checks and balances to assure that no single branch, especially the executive, should become too powerful. And they gave us the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to make it clear that the federal government was not the repository upon which our rights rested.
* But the Progressives felt differently. One progressive put it this way: "...the most fundamental and indispensable mark of statehood (was) the original, absolute, unlimited, universal power over the individual subject, and all associations of subjects." (Quote by John Burgess.) This belief in the power of the state manifested itself in the idea that a few select leaders, along with a burgeoning bureaucracy, could best run society in an increasingly complex world. While history is filled with examples of the state being elevated over the individual, with often the most horrific consequences, today's left still accepts the premise. That is why Obama (and the Occupy Wall Street movement) are able to demonize the millionaires and billionaires. It is why Obama is able to say that "if you've got a business you didn't build that, somebody else (he meant the government) made that happen." Obama has also said that at a certain point you have made enough money. That means the government gets to decide just how much money you can earn and keep; another example of the primacy of the state over the individual.
* This blog has previously addressed the idea that the concept of property rights has drastically changed from the days of our founders. The taking of private property for public use (as discussed in the Fifth Amendment) was always understood to mean an actual public use - such as for a public school or highway. But in 2005, the US Supreme Court allowed the taking of private property for a commercial use - because it would generate more tax dollars for the City of New London. (Kelo vs. City of New London, Connecticut, et. al.) That decision was a reflection of the Court valuing the primacy of the state over the individual.
* An earlier president, Teddy Roosevelt, was a leading proponent of the Progressive Movement. He is well known for his "trust-busting" days. Said Roosevelt: "We demand that big business give people a square deal..." But some of his other beliefs are so far removed from today's liberal thinking that it behooves us to take a look at just how much liberal thinking has changed from the Progressive Era.
* The following are quotes from Roosevelt. "The first requisite of a good citizen in this republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his weight." "If a man stumbles, it is a good thing to help him to his feet. Every one of us needs a helping hand now and then. But if a man lies down, it is a waste of time to try to carry him; and it is a very bad thing for every one if we make men feel that the same reward will come to those who shirk their work and to those who do it." Compare that with today's welfare society.
* Does character make the man? When voting for president, some vote party lines. Others feel the office is too important to ignore character issues. My friends on the left frequently say how smart our current President is. Is that enough? Said Roosevelt: "And character is far more important than intellect in making a man a good citizen or successful at his calling - meaning by character not only such qualities as honesty and truthfulness, but courage, perseverance, and self-reliance." Sadly, no amount of lying by our current president, nor other demonstrations of bad character, would deter my liberal friends from voting for Obama again if he could run for a third term.
* In these few short paragraphs we took a look at founding principles and how the progressive movement challenged those principles and how today's left has completely abandoned our founding principles. If the Constitution is outdated and therefore not to be followed, or is seen as a "living breathing document," then we have no Constitution. We have whatever our leaders tell us we have. Thus, we can have a president writing the laws (as Obama regularly does with the ACA), even though Congress is tasked with law making. We then have a President who does not see his job as "faithfully executing" the laws passed by Congress. My friends on the left have abandoned principle in favor of their causes. What, then, are the limits of government power? If our liberty comes from the state, and is no longer seen as coming from G-d, then what liberty do we really have?
* A friend and reader of this blog believes that today's liberals need to watch the movie "Dr. Zhivago." After the good doctor goes off to tend to soldiers during the Russian Revolution, he comes back to his rather spacious home to find thirteen other families residing in his home. The "people" decided no one family should have such a large home. There is, of course, more to the movie; and a little history lesson now and then can be quite illuminating.