When not making excuses for President Obama’s dismal economic record, liberals try to explain away Texas’ stellar growth. But … the Lone Star State proves limited government works. …
Economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called it the “Texas Unmiracle.” Time magazine dismissed Texas’ burgeoning growth as mere luck. Others chimed in along the same lines, insisting that low taxes, limited government spending and a business-friendly environment couldn’t possibly have anything to do with Texas’ better-than-average growth in GDP, jobs and incomes. And so, as Krugman put it, Texas “offers no useful lessons”.
We quote from an Investor’s Business Daily report on the economic success of Texas – resulting from its “un-liberal policies”.
An article this week in Washington Monthly written by Phillip Longman and titled “Oops: The Texas Miracle That Isn’t” spends 4,700 words claiming to have exposed the miracle as a fraud. But his debunking effort turns out to be phony.
Longman admits Texas has “outperformed the rest of the country in its growth of high-paying jobs.” That, he says, is “potentially a very big deal.” So he spends the rest of the article trying to explain it all away. He argues, for example, that the growth is almost entirely due to the boom in oil and gas production, though that industry directly accounts for just 8% of the new jobs.
In any case, he overlooks the fact that the oil and gas industry is doing well because Texas — unlike other energy-rich states such as, say, California — isn’t smothering it to death with regulations.
Longman then tries to deny the fact that people are flocking to Texas from other states in search of opportunity by citing just one year’s data on net migration — from 2010, a relatively low year for Texas.
Truth is that, since 2000, Texas has enjoyed a net migration of more than 2 million people, accounting for 40% of its total population growth, according to Census Bureau data. Between 2005 and 2012, nearly a quarter-million came from California alone.
Another way to look at it: In just five years, $14.4 billion worth of income shifted from other states to Texas, according to the Tax Foundation. Over the same years, liberal bastions such as California lost $15.8 billion, New York $21 billion and Massachusetts $4 billion.
Does that look like a “low level of net domestic migration to Texas”? Clearly, people are moving to Texas for a reason. And that mystifies those on the left because Texas has fewer government services, doesn’t try to soak the rich and spends less per student on education. Never mind that Texas students get a better education than those in big-spending California, according to a McKinsey & Co. study. Or that it has a lower poverty rate than California and New York.
And this migration trend isn’t limited to Texas. Between 2000 and 2011, the states with the biggest gains were more conservative, while the biggest losers were all liberal, according to a state freedom index report from the George Mason University Mercatus Center. …
Fact is, Texas has pursued decidedly un-liberal policies. It has one of the lowest levels of government spending, among the lowest tax burdens and consistently ranks as the most business-friendly state in the nation.
As a result, its real economy grew 13% between 2009 and 2012 — twice as fast as the nation overall. Private-sector jobs climbed 12% since Obama’s “recovery” started 4-1/2 years ago, compared with 7% nationwide. And per-capita income has been rising faster — 50% since 2000 vs. 44% nationwide. …
Texas is just an example of what invariably happens when a state, or nation, pursues free-market economic policies. And that’s why the left is so desperate to make its success disappear.
No state can have a truly free market when the federal government is regulatory, controlling, and redistributive as it is now. But Texas shows what can be done even in these trying circumstances.
Listen to Governor Perry of Texas. It’s a thrilling and rousing speech.
(Hat-tip for the video, our reader and commenter donl)
There may be something to the claim that all people want to be free. But it is a demonstrable fact that freedom has been under attack, usually successfully, for thousands of years.
So Thomas Sowell writes in a column titled Freedom Is Not Free. He argues that the thuggish Obama regime is implementing a totalitarian agenda. The evidence that individuals are being hounded by government agencies is enormous and mounting. He mentions a few examples.
The Federal Communications Commission’s recent plan to have a “study” of how editorial decisions are made in the media, placing FCC bureaucrats in editorial offices across the country, was one of the boldest assaults on freedom of the press. Fortunately, there was enough backlash to force the FCC to back off.
With all the sweeping powers available to government, displeasing FCC bureaucrats in editorial offices could have brought on armies of “safety” inspectors from OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration], audits from the Internal Revenue Service and many other harassments from many other government agencies.
Such tactics have become especially common in this administration, which has the morals of thugs and the agenda of totalitarians. They may not be consciously aiming at creating a totalitarian state, but shameless use of government power to crush those who get in their way can produce totalitarian end results.
Too kind. We see clear evidence that Obama and his henchmen (and henchwomen) are consciously aiming at totalitarian power.
The prosecution of Dinesh D’Souza for contributing $20,000 to a political candidate, supposedly in violation of the many campaign finance laws, is a classic case of selective prosecution.
Thugs who stationed themselves outside a polling place in Philadelphia to intimidate white voters were given a pass, and others accused of campaign finance violations were charged with misdemeanors, but Dinesh D’Souza has been charged with felonies that carry penalties of years in federal prison.
All of this is over a campaign contribution that is chicken feed, compared to what can be raised inside of an hour at a political fundraising breakfast or lunch.
Could this singling out of D’Souza for prosecution have something to do with the fact that he made a documentary movie with devastating exposures of Barack Obama’s ideologies and policies? That movie, incidentally, is titled “2016: Obama’s America,” and every American should get a copy of it on a DVD. …
It doesn’t matter what rights you have under the Constitution of the United States, if the government can punish you for exercising those rights. And it doesn’t matter what limits the Constitution puts on government officials’ power, if they can exceed those limits without any adverse consequences.
In other words, the Constitution cannot protect you, if you don’t protect the Constitution with your votes against anyone who violates it. Those government officials who want more power are not going to stop unless they get stopped.
As long as millions of Americans vote on the basis of who gives them free stuff, look for their freedom – and all our freedom – to be eroded away, bit by bit. Our children and grandchildren may yet come to see the Constitution as just some quaint words from the past that people once took seriously. …
Arbitrary power is ugly and vicious, regardless of what pious rhetoric goes with it.
Freedom is not free.
You have to fight for it or lose it. But is our generation up to fighting for it?
So there may be no truth in the claim that all people want to be free.
Only a minority, it seems, will vote for freedom. Even fewer will fight for it.
What chance is there that such freedom as we still have will not be lost?
The organizers of an important Conservative conference have banned an atheist organization from attending it and setting out its stall.
The Conservative Political Action Committee, the largest and oldest gathering of conservatives, is run by the American Conservative Union and will be held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Maryland’s National Harbor from March 6 to 8. Last year, the event brought together thousands of activists to listen to dozens of Republican leaders speak about everything from economics and foreign policy to social issues. The event has long been considered a required stop for Republican presidential hopefuls.
That and what follows we quote from CNN’s “belief blog”.
Organizers for the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference will not allow American Atheists to have an exhibition booth …
The decision comes just hours after American Atheists, the outspoken organization that advocates for atheists nationwide, announced that it would have a booth at the event. David Silverman, president of American Atheists, tells CNN that a groundswell of opposition from high-ranking members of CPAC compelled the group to pull the invite.
Meghan Snyder, a spokeswoman for CPAC, said in a statement to CNN that “American Atheists misrepresented itself about their willingness to engage in positive dialogue and work together to promote limited government.”
“I’m surprised and I’m saddened,” Silverman said in response to the announcement. “I think this is a very disappointing turn of events. I was really looking forward to going … It is very obvious to me they were looking for a reason to say no,” Silverman added. “Christianity is bad for conservatism and they did not want that message out there.” …
Silverman said his group [had] planned to use the booth to bring conservative atheists “out of the closet” and said he was not worried about making the Christian right angry because “the Christian right should be threatened by us.”
Snyder said CPAC spoke to Silverman about his divisive and inappropriate language.
He pledged that he will attack the very idea that Christianity is an important element of conservatism. People of any faith tradition should not be attacked for their beliefs, especially at our conference. …
But yes, Ms Snyder, it is precisely beliefs that ought to be attacked. Continually. Forever.
The critical examination of ideas is the essential task of civilized humankind.
When [earlier] Snyder had confirmed to CNN that American Atheists would be at CPAC, she said in a statement that they were allowed to display at the confab because “conservatives have always stood for freedom of religion and freedom of expression.”
“The folks we have been working with stand for many of the same liberty-oriented policies and principles we stand for,” Snyder said. …
And so, she had thought, did American Atheists. But the decision to include them had outraged some conservatives.
Tony Perkins, president of the Christian conservative think-tank Family Research Council, expressed outrage at the decision, stating that the American Atheists did “not seek to add their voice to the chorus of freedom”. [He said] “CPAC’s mission is to be an umbrella for conservative organizations that advance liberty, traditional values and our national defense.”
Does the American Conservative Union really think the liberties and values they seek to preserve can be maintained when they partner with individuals and organizations that are undermining the understanding that our liberties come from God? Thomas Jefferson warned against such nonsense. If this is where the ACU is headed, they will have to pack up and put away the “C”‘ in CPAC!” …
The first “C” for “Conservative” we suppose is the one he meant. But why would it need to be packed away if atheists are allowed to have their say? Perhaps Perkins thinks it stands for “Christian”.
American Atheist is well known for its controversial billboards and media campaigns and is considered the in-your-face contingent in the world of atheist activists. The group’s members pride themselves as being the “Marines” of the atheist movement. …
In explaining why the group decided to join CPAC on Monday, Silverman cited a 2012 Pew Research study that found 20% of self-identified conservatives consider themselves religiously unaffiliated. While that does not mean they are atheists, Silverman believes learning more about atheism will make it more likely conservatives will choose to identify with those who believe there is no God.
Just as there are many closeted atheists in the church pews, I am extremely confident that there are many closeted atheists in the ranks of conservatives. This is really a serious outreach effort, and I am very pleased to be embarking on it.
The group has long targeted Republican lawmakers, although Silverman considers the organization nonpartisan.
In 2013, American Atheists launched a billboard campaign against three Republican politicians: former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. All three Republicans have spoken at CPAC in the past.
On one billboard, Santorum is pictured to the left of a quote attributed to him. “Our civil laws have to comport with a higher law. God’s law,” the quote reads. Underneath the graphic is a tagline: “GO GODLESS INSTEAD.”
Comment on this affair comes from National Review, by Charles C. W. Cooke: :
Yesterday, in response to one of the many brouhahas that CPAC seems always to invite, Brent Bozell issued the following statement:
The invitation extended by the ACU, Al Cardenas and CPAC to American Atheists to have a booth is more than an attack on conservative principles. It is an attack on God Himself. American Atheists is an organization devoted to the hatred of God. How on earth could CPAC, or the ACU and its board of directors, and Al Cardenas condone such an atrocity?
So Brent Bozell thinks that issuing the invitation was an attack on conservative principles. More, it was “an attack on God Himself”. As such, it was a veritable “atrocity“!
The particular merits of the American Atheists group to one side, this is a rather astounding thing for Bozell to have said. In just 63 words, he confuses disbelief in God for “hatred” for God — a mistake that not only begs the question but is inherently absurd (one cannot very well hate what one does not believe is there); he condemns an entire conference on the basis of one participant — not a good look for a struggling movement, I’m afraid; and, most alarmingly perhaps, he insinuates that one cannot simultaneously be a conservative and an atheist. I reject this idea — and with force.
If atheism and conservatism are incompatible, then I am not a conservative. And nor, I am given to understand, are George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Anthony Daniels, Walter Olson, Heather Mac Donald, James Taranto, Allahpundit, or S. E. Cupp. There is no getting around this — no splitting the difference: I don’t believe there is a God. It’s not that I’m “not sure” or that I haven’t ever bothered to think about it; it’s that I actively think there isn’t a God — much as I think there are no fairies or unicorns or elves. The degree to which I’m confident in this view works on a scale, certainly: I’m much surer, for example, that the claims of particular religions are untrue and that there is no power intervening in the affairs of man than I am that there was no prime mover of any sort.
Rrrreally, Mr Cooke?
But, when it comes down to it, I don’t believe in any of those propositions.
Am I to be excommunicated from the Right?
One of the problems we have when thinking about atheism in the modern era is that the word has been hijacked and turned into a political position when it is no such thing. The Oxford English Dictionary defines an “atheist” as someone who exhibits “disbelief in, or denial of, the existence of a god.” That’s me right there — and that really is the extent of it.
Okay, you can have a booth at any conference we ever organize.
Or have we spoken too soon? Repeat what you were mumbling, please?
No, I don’t dislike anyone who does believe that there is a God; no, with a few obvious exceptions, I am not angry at the religious; and no, I do not believe the devout to be in any way worse or less intelligent than myself. Insofar as the question inspires irritation in me at all it is largely reserved for the sneering, smarmy, and incomprehensibly self-satisfied New Atheist movement, which has turned the worthwhile writings of some extremely smart people into an organized means by which a cabal of semi-educated twentysomethings might berate the vast majority of the human population and then congratulate one another as to how clever they are.
What New Atheist movement? If it exists, we want to join it. What is incomprehensible about it? What suggests that “it” is self-satisifed? What worthwhile writings would those be? Who are these beraters? And are they not - in that they are atheists – cleverer than “the vast majority of the human population”?
Which is to say that, philosophically speaking, I couldn’t really care less … and practically speaking I am actually pretty warm toward religion — at least as it is practiced in America. True or false, American religion plays a vital and welcome role in civil society, has provided a number of indispensable insights into the human condition, acts as a remarkably effective and necessary check on the ambitions of government and central social-planners, is worthy of respect and measured inquiry on the Burkean grounds that it has endured for this long and been adopted by so many, and has been instrumental in making the United States what it is today.…
We would dispute almost every one of those propositions, especially that religion is “worthy of respect” – though of “measured inquiry”, yes, it is worthy, and should be subjected to it mercilessly.
We like most of what he goes on to say next. And he provides some interesting information:
None of this, however, excuses the manner in which conservatives often treat atheists such as myself. George H. W. Bush, who was more usually reticent on such topics, is reported to have said that he didn’t “know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic[because] this is one nation under God”.
Whether Bush ever uttered these words or not, this sentiment has been expressed by others elsewhere. It is a significant mistake. What “this nation” is, in fact, is one nation under the Constitution — a document that precedes the “under God” reference in the Gettysburg Address by more than seven decades and the inclusion of the phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance by 165 years. (“In God We Trust,” too, was a modern addition, replacing “E Pluribus Unum” as the national motto in 1956 after 174 years.)
Indeed, given the troubled waters into which American religious liberty has of late been pushed, it strikes me that conservatives ought to be courting atheists — not shunning them. I will happily take to the barricades for religious conscience rights, not least because my own security as a heretic is bound up with that of those who differ from me, and because a truly free country seeks to leave alone as many people as possible — however eccentric I might find their views or they might find mine. In my experience at least, it is Progressivism and not conservatism that is eternally hostile to variation and to individual belief, and, while we are constantly told that the opposite is the case, it is those [leftists] who pride themselves on being secular who seem more likely and more keen to abridge my liberties than those who pride themselves on being religious. That I do not share the convictions of the religious by no means implies that I wish for the state to reach into their lives. Nevertheless, religious conservatives will find themselves without many friends if they allow figures such as Mr. Bozell to shoo away the few atheists who are sympathetic to their broader cause.
As it happens, not only do I reject the claim that the two positions are antagonistic, but I’d venture that much of what informs my atheism informs my conservatism also. I am possessed of a latent skepticism of pretty much everything, a hostility toward the notion that one should believe things because they are a nice idea, a fear of holistic philosophies, a dislike of authority and of dogma, a strong belief in the Enlightenment as interpreted and experienced by the British and not the French, and a rather tenacious refusal to join groups.
Yes, a conservative should logically be skeptical of ideology as such. And impatient with the irrational. And religions are among the most irrational of ideologies.
Occasionally, I’m asked why I “believe there is no God,” which is a reasonable question in a vacuum but which nonetheless rather seems to invert the traditional order of things. After all, that’s not typically how we make our inquiries on the right, is it? Instead, we ask what evidence there is that something is true. …
A great deal of the friction between atheists and conservatives seems to derive from a reasonable question. “If you don’t consider that human beings are entitled to ‘God given’ liberties,” I am often asked, “don’t you believe that the unalienable rights that you spend your days defending are merely the product of ancient legal accidents or of the one-time whims of transient majorities?” Well, no, not really. As far as I can see, the American settlement can thrive perfectly well within my worldview. God or no God, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence are all built upon centuries of English law, human experience, and British and European philosophy, and the natural-law case for them stands nicely on its own.
And he then turns to Thomas Jefferson, who penned the Declaration, and, far from “warning against undermining the understanding that our liberties come from God” as Tony Perkins claims …
… rejected revealed religion because revealed religion suggests a violation of the laws of nature. For revelation or any miracle to occur, the laws of nature would necessarily be broken. Jefferson did not accept this violation of natural laws. He attributed to God only such qualities as reason suggested.
Which, as the quoted passage goes on to explain, are none:
“Of the nature of this being,” Jefferson wrote to John Adams in 1817, “we know nothing.”
Logically then, not even its existence, though Jefferson is not recorded as ever having said so.
On the political left, fair is foul and foul is fair.
The left likes to use words to mean their opposites. Communist dictatorships like to call themselves “democratic” republics. It’s a cynical tease, because it shows that they know democracy is better than dictatorship.
A cynical lefty euphemism much in use in America is “diversity”. It should mean “variety”, but what it has come to mean in practice is its opposite - “orthodoxy”: a strict doctrinal uniformity of opinion.
The doctrine has achieved enormous success in the universities, which are no longer open to new ideas, no longer allow free debate, no longer question fixed assumptions. That’s what they once existed for. Now they are temples of political correctness, safes for the secure locking up of leftist doctrine.They want a sterile mix of ethnicities and of as many genders as semantic ingenuity can invent, but not a fertile mix of ideas. They recognize only one set of ideas as correct. To question it is heresy.
Steps towards enforcing this kind of “diversity” in the news media have been proposed by the Obama administration. Charles Krauthammer deplores the move in this video clip:
Here the doctrine of diversity is examined by Victor Davis Hanson:
Diversity has become corporatized on American campuses, with scores of bureaucrats and administrators accentuating different pedigrees and ancestries. That’s odd, because diversity does not mean any more “variety” or “points of difference,” at least as it used to be defined.
Instead, diversity has become … synonymous with orthodoxy and intolerance, especially of political thought.
When campuses sloganeer “celebrate diversity,” that does not mean encouraging all sorts of political views. …
Do colleges routinely invite graduation speakers who are skeptical of man-made global warming, and have reservations about present abortion laws, gay marriage or illegal immigration – if only for the sake of ensuring diverse views?
Nor does diversity mean consistently ensuring that institutions should reflect “what America looks like.” …
Do we really want all institutions to weigh diversity rather than merit so that coveted spots reflect the race and gender percentages of American society? …
Gender disparity is absolutely stunning on American campuses. Women now earn about 61 percent of all associate degrees and 57 percent of all bachelor’s degrees. With such disproportionate gender representation, do we need outreach offices on campus to weigh maleness in admissions? Should college presidents investigate whether the campus has become an insidiously hostile place for men? …
If ethnic, rather than class, pedigrees provide an edge, how do we ascertain them in today’s melting-pot culture? Does the one-quarter Latino student, the recent arrival from Jamaica or the fourth-generation Japanese-American deserve special consideration as “diverse”? And if so, over whom? The Punjabi-American? The Arab-American? The gay rich kid? The coal miner’s daughter? Or the generic American who chooses not to broadcast his profile?
Does Diversity Inc. rely on genetic testing, family documents, general appearance, accented names, trilled pronunciation or just personal assurance to pass judgment on who should be advantaged in any measurement of diversity?
In such an illiberal, tribally obsessed and ideologically based value system, it is not hard to see why and how careerists such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren and activist Ward Churchill were able to fabricate helpful Native American ancestries.
Diversity came into vogue after affirmative action became unworkable in the 1980s. Given the multiplicity of ethnicities, huge influxes of new immigrants and a growing rate of intermarriage, it became almost impossible to adjudicate historical grievances and dole out legal remedies. So just creating “diversity” – without much worry over how to define it – avoided the contradictions.
But diversity is not only incoherent; it is also ironic. On a campus short of resources, the industry of diversity and related “studies” classes that focus on gender or racial differences and grievances crowd out exactly the sort of disciplines that provide the skills – mastery of languages, literature, science, engineering, business and math – that best prep non-traditional graduates for a shot at well-compensated careers.
And here Jonah Goldberg writes on the same subject:
Cancel the philosophy courses, people. Oh, and we’re going to be shuttering the political science, religion and pre-law departments too. We’ll keep some of the English and history folks on for a while longer, but they should probably keep their resumes handy.
Because, you see, they are of no use anymore. We have the answers to the big questions, so why keep pretending there’s anything left to discuss?
At least that’s where Erin Ching, a student at Swarthmore College, seems to be coming down. Her school invited a famous [or infamous - ed] left-wing Princeton professor, Cornel West, and a famous right-wing Princeton professor, Robert George, to have a debate. The two men are friends, and by all accounts they had an utterly civil exchange of ideas. But that only made the whole thing even more outrageous.
“What really bothered me is, the whole idea is that at a liberal arts college, we need to be hearing a diversity of opinion,” Ching told the Daily Gazette, the school’s newspaper. “I don’t think we should be tolerating [George's] conservative views because that dominant culture embeds these deep inequalities in our society.”
Swarthmore must be so proud.
Over at Harvard, another young lady has similar views. Harvard Crimson editorial writer Sandra Y.L. Korn recently called for getting rid of academic freedom in favor of something called “academic justice”.
“If our university community opposes racism, sexism and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of ‘academic freedom’?” Korn asks.
Helpfully, she answers her own question: “When an academic community observes research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure that this research does not continue.”
One could easily dismiss these students as part of that long and glorious American tradition of smart young people saying stupid things. As Oscar Wilde remarked, “In America the young are always ready to give to those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their inexperience.”
But we all know that this nonsense didn’t spring ex nihilo from their imaginations … These ideas are taught.
Indeed, we are now up to our knees in this Orwellian bilge. Diversity means conformity. …
To want “diversity” – the writer sums up – means to listen only to “people who agree with me” and that means people who are left wing.
[For] the sages of Swarthmore and Harvard … if the conversation heads in a direction where [they] smell “oppression” – as defined solely by the left – then it must not be “put up with”.
Diversity demands that diversity of opinion not be tolerated anymore.
Walter Williams is one of the rare thinkers whose opinion needs to be taken seriously. What he recommends cannot be dismissed, even if it is startlingly radical.
He writes that a crisis has developed in the United States for which the only good remedy would be a break-up of the union.
I believe our nation is at a point where there are enough irreconcilable differences between those Americans who want to control other Americans and those Americans who want to be left alone that separation is the only peaceable alternative. …
Our rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution have been grossly violated by a government instituted to protect them. These constitutional violations have increased independent of whether there’s been a Democrat-controlled Washington or a Republican-controlled Washington.
There is no evidence that Americans who are responsible for and support constitutional abrogation have any intention of mending their ways. …
Let’s look at the magnitude of the violations.
Article I, Section 8 of our Constitution lists the activities for which Congress is authorized to tax and spend. Nowhere on that list is there authority for Congress to tax and spend for: Medicare, Social Security, public education, farm subsidies, bank and business bailouts, food stamps and thousands of other activities that account for roughly two-thirds of the federal budget. Neither is there authority for congressional mandates to citizens about what type of health insurance they must purchase, how states and people may use their land, the speed at which they can drive, whether a library has wheelchair ramps, and the gallons of water used per toilet flush. The list of congressional violations of both the letter and spirit of the Constitution is virtually without end. Our derelict Supreme Court has given Congress sanction to do just about anything for which they can muster a majority vote.
James Madison, the acknowledged father of the Constitution, explained in Federalist Paper No. 45: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce. … The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives and liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement and prosperity of the State.”
Our founder’s constitutional vision of limited federal government has been consigned to the dustbin of history.
Americans have several options.
We can like sheep submit to those who have contempt for liberty and our Constitution.
We can resist, fight and risk bloodshed and death in an attempt to force America’s tyrants to respect our liberties and Constitution.
A superior alternative is to find a way to peaceably separate into states whose citizens respect liberty and the Constitution.
My personal preference is a restoration of the constitutional values of limited government that made us a great nation.
We take his point. We agree with his analysis of the problem. But his last sentence, it seems to us, begs the question. How are those values to be restored?
If by secession, which states should secede? He does not say.
And if some do, what will be the consequences, within those states and in the nation as a whole?
Last time there was a movement to “peaceably separate the states”, there was a fight over that very issue, with much bloodshed and some 750,000 deaths.
The crisis may well be as severe as he says. A radical remedy may be necessary. But is there a mood in the country for it?
Of course we cannot be sure, but we guess Americans are far more likely now to “submit like sheep” to the growing tyranny of the federal government than risk life (such as it will be), and property (such as will be allowed), for the sake of regaining liberty.
On entering the new year, Thomas Sowell writes:
Whenever we stand on the threshold of a new year, we are tempted to forget the hazards of prophecy, and try to see what may lie on the other side of this arbitrary division of time.
Sometimes we are content to try to change ourselves with New Year’s resolutions to do better in some respect. Changing ourselves is a much more reasonable undertaking than trying to change other people. It may or may not succeed, but it seldom creates the disasters that trying to change others can produce.
When we look beyond ourselves to the world around us, peering into the future can be a very sobering, if not depressing, experience.
ObamaCare looms large and menacing on our horizon. This is not just because of computer problems, or even because some people who think that they have enrolled may discover at their next visit to a doctor that they do not have any insurance coverage.
What ObamaCare has done, thanks to Chief Justice Roberts’s Supreme Court decision, is reduce us all from free citizens to cowed subjects, whom the federal government can order around in our own personal lives, in defiance of the 10th Amendment and all the other protections of our freedom in the Constitution of the United States.
ObamaCare is more than a medical problem, though there are predictable medical problems – and even catastrophes – that will unfold in the course of 2014 and beyond. Our betters have now been empowered to run our lives, with whatever combination of arrogance and incompetence they may have, or however much they lie.
The challenges ahead are much clearer than what our responses will be. Perhaps the most hopeful sign is that increasing numbers of people seem to have finally – after nearly five long years – begun to see Barack Obama for what he is, rather than for what he seemed to be, when judged by his image and rhetoric.
What kind of man would blithely disrupt the medical care of millions of Americans, and then repeatedly lie to them with glib assurances that they could keep their doctors or health insurance if they wanted to?
What kind of man would set up a system in which people would be forced by law to risk their life savings, because they had to divulge their financial identification numbers to strangers who could turn out to be convicted felons?
With all the time that elapsed between the passage of ObamaCare and its going into effect, why were the so-called “navigators” who were to be handling other people’s financial records never investigated for criminal convictions? What explanation could there be, other than that Obama didn’t care? …
Those who have still not yet seen through Barack Obama will have many more opportunities to do so during the coming year, as the medical, financial and other painful human consequences of ObamaCare keep coming out in ways so clear that not even the mainstream media can ignore them or obscure them.
The question then is: What can be done about it? Nothing can be done about Obama himself. He has three more years in office and, as he pointed out to the Russians, he will no longer have to face the American voters.
ObamaCare, however, has no such immunity. It is always hard to repeal an elaborate program after it has gone into effect. But Prohibition was repealed, even though it was a Constitutional Amendment that required super-majorities in both houses of Congress and super-majorities of state legislatures to repeal.
In our two-party system, everything depends on whether the Republicans step up to the plate and act like responsible adults who understand that ObamaCare represents a historic crossroads that will determine what kind of people we are going to be, for this generation and generations yet unborn – citizens or subjects.
This means that Republicans have to decide whether their top priority is internal strife among the different wings of the party – another circular firing squad – or whether either wing puts the country first.
A prediction on how that will turn out in the new year would be far too hazardous to attempt.
We make no predictions today, but we thank our readers and commenters for their interest and contributions, and wish you all a Very Happy New Year!
This report, by Ross Tilchin, comes from the left-leaning Brookings Institution. It is titled On the libertarian challenge within the GOP.
Would a stronger appeal to libertarian values help the Republican Party win elections? This was one of the central questions raised during a discussion of the Public Religion Research Institute’s (PRRI’s) American Values Survey, “In Search of Libertarians in America,” launched at the Brookings Institution on October 29th, 2013.
Libertarianism has become a major part of the political conversation in the United States, thanks in large part to the high profile presidential candidacy of Ron Paul, the visibility of his son Rand in the United States Senate, and Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s well-known admiration of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. And the tenets of libertarianism square with the attitudes of an American public dissatisfied with government performance, apprehensive about government’s intrusiveness into private life, and disillusioned with U.S. involvement overseas. Libertarianism is also distinct from the social conservatism that has handicapped the Republican Party in many recent elections among women and young people.
Within this context, libertarians seem likely to exercise greater sway on the Republican Party than at any other point in the recent past. But a closer look at public attitudes points to many factors that will limit the ability of libertarians to command greater influence within the GOP caucus.
First, according to the PRRI poll, libertarians represent only 12% of the Republican Party. This number is consistent with the findings of other studies by the Pew Research Center and the American National Election Study. This libertarian constituency is dwarfed by other key Republican groups, including white evangelicals (37%) and those who identify with the Tea Party (20%). Tea Party members are much more likely to identify with the religious right than they are with libertarianism. More than half of Tea Partiers (52%) say they are a part of the religious right or the conservative Christian movement, and more than one-third (35%) specifically identify as white evangelical Protestants. In contrast, only 26% of Tea Partiers were classified as libertarians on PRRI’s Libertarian Orientation Scale.
While these groups are similarly conservative on economic matters (indeed, libertarians are further to the right than white evangelicals or Tea Partiers on some economic issues, such as raising the minimum wage), they are extremely divided by their views on religion.
Only 53% of libertarians describe religion as the most important thing or one among many important things in their lives.
Only? We’re surprised there are so many. More than half!
By comparison, 77% of Tea Party members say that religion is either the most important thing or one among many important things in their lives, and – not surprisingly – 94% of white evangelicals say that religion is either the most important thing or one among many important things in their lives. A full 44% of libertarians say that religion is not important in their lives or that religion is not as important as other things in their lives. Only 11% of Tea Party members and 1% of white evangelicals say that religion is not important in their lives.
There are evangelicals who say that? Evangelicals in name only, then? EINOs.
Additionally, libertarians are among the most likely to agree that religion causes more problems in society than it solves (37% total: 17% completely agreeing, 20% mostly agreeing); the least likely to agree that it is important for children to be brought up in a religion so they can learn good values (35% total: 13% completely disagree, 22% disagree); and the least likely to think it is necessary to believe in God in order to be moral and have good values (63% total: 30% completely disagree, 33% mostly disagree).
About a third of the surveyed libertarians find it necessary to believe in a heavenly Lord? Astonishing.
These stark differences in attitudes toward religion help explain the large difference in view between libertarians and other conservatives on social issues such as abortion, physician-assisted suicide, and marijuana legalization. Given their positions on these contentious social matters, it is very difficult to envision Libertarians gaining the support of socially conservative voters in the Republican Party.
Libertarians’ influence on the Republican Party is also limited by geography. Libertarians are broadly dispersed across the country – and even where they are most regionally concentrated, they are outnumbered by Tea Partiers and White Evangelicals. …
Of the 10 states that Sorens identifies as having the most libertarians, only New Hampshire, Nevada, and Georgia had spreads of 8 points or less in the 2012 presidential election. The other seven were either solidly red (Montana, Alaska, Idaho, Indiana, Wyoming, and Utah) or solidly blue (Washington and Oregon).
As such, there seems little impetus for any ideological change of course in these states—not to mention the South writ large, the region with the greatest level of libertarian support — since they are already so stoutly Republican. Perhaps in individual districts with a particular libertarian bent, libertarian candidates could have some electoral success. But any candidate running as a libertarian would, by the nature of libertarianism, have to emphasize their laissez-faire values on social issues. If running for higher office, this would surely alienate more socially conservative voters, so strongly represented in the Republican Party in these areas.
The business establishment of the Republican Party would seem a natural libertarian ally, given its moderate views on social issues, opposition to government regulation, and natural sympathy for classical economics. But this view is contested by Henry Olsen of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. At the recent Brookings discussion, Olsen argued that the business community consists of “people who are generally but not intensely opposed to government expansion, people who are generally but not intensely supportive of personal social liberties, people who are generally but not intensely suspicious of intervention abroad. That is the center of the Republican Party, not the libertarian alliance.” The very intensity of the libertarian movement is, as Olsen observed, “a bit off-putting to the person in the middle.” …
Though the states with the most libertarians are primarily rural, libertarians are also wealthier than average, better educated than average, and young (indeed, 62% of libertarians are under the age of 50) — three demographic sets that tend to live in densely populated areas. Heavily populated areas are overwhelmingly Democratic. It is not clear how many of voters in these areas would support a more libertarian Republican [candidate]. Regardless, it is even less likely that libertarianism would tilt the balance in urban counties towards the GOP’s way. …
For a variety of reasons, the burden falls on libertarians to demonstrate how they will change these dynamics. While there may be real appeal for some for Republicans to embrace a more libertarian approach, the undercurrents of the party do not paint an encouraging picture for this as a successful electoral strategy. …
The cornerstone of libertarianism — a fervent belief in the pre-eminence of personal liberty — leads libertarians to hold views on social issues that fall far outside of the mainstream of large portions of the Republican Party. In addition, libertarians’ greatest concentrations in numbers tend to fall either in small, sparsely populated states with less national political power, or among younger individuals who live predominantly in densely populated, Democratic areas. This culminates in an environment where political and demographic forces across the United States and within the Republican Party itself severely limit the power and growth of libertarians as a force within the GOP.
Scott Shackford, writing at Reason, comments on the report:
I take slight issue with the analysis, though perhaps not the conclusion. What’s left out is the very libertarian idea that just because libertarians don’t see religion as an important component to their own lives, that doesn’t mean we would object to others who decide otherwise. And believing that “religion causes more problems in society than it solves” should not be taken to mean that a libertarian believes the government should implement policies in a pursuit to “fix” these problems.
Obviously there is disagreement, but it’s not actually, literally about faith. The disagreement is about the extent of and justifications for the use of government force. To say that religious beliefs should not be used to determine whether it should be legal to get an abortion or get married is not to say that people shouldn’t use religion to make these decisions for themselves in their own lives.
Given the libertarian rejection of government coercion, who else is better suited to even approach these issues with social conservatives? Who outside of libertarians is arguing in favor of same-sex marriages getting the same legal recognition as heterosexual marriages, while at the same time arguing that no church should be obligated to recognize them, nor should any business be dragooned into providing goods and services for them?
Rather than seeing libertarians in opposition to social conservatives, it’s more helpful to see libertarians as allies in protecting the civil liberties of the religious even as they lose cultural influence. Libertarians may not be able to “take over” the Republican Party (not that they should stop trying), but the party itself may be in deep trouble if these factions cannot find points of agreement.
One point that emerges from the data and the discussion as a whole is that the issue of personal liberty is assumed to be of no concern at all to the Democratic Party.
If the Republican Party – for all its faults – is so clearly the party of liberty, then all the straining by these earnest scholars of the Left to prove it is mostly the party of religious nuts and southern fuddy-duddies, is wasted effort. Those who want to be free need to vote Republican. Those who want Big Brother (or Daddy or Nanny) Government to run their lives, and keep them dependent on the whims of bureaucrats and collectivist ideologues, will vote Democratic.
If only the Republican Party could learn how to get voters to understand that that is the choice.
These are extracts from a Washington Times report of an interview it had in Moscow with Edward Snowden, the man who “betrayed” the secrets of the National Security Agency (NSA):
Snowden is an orderly thinker, with an engineer’s approach to problem-solving. He had come to believe that a dangerous machine of mass surveillance was growing unchecked. Closed-door oversight by Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was a “graveyard of judgment” he said, manipulated by the agency it was supposed to keep in check. Classification rules erected walls to prevent public debate.
Toppling those walls would be a spectacular act of transgression against the norms that prevailed inside them. Someone would have to bypass security, extract the secrets, make undetected contact with journalists and provide them with enough proof to tell the stories.
The NSA’s business is “information dominance”, the use of other people’s secrets to shape events. … Snowden upended the agency on its own turf. …[and] succeeded beyond plausible ambition. The NSA, accustomed to watching without being watched, faces scrutiny it has not endured since the 1970s, or perhaps ever.
The cascading effects have made themselves felt in Congress, the courts, popular culture, Silicon Valley and world capitals.
The basic structure of the Internet itself is now in question, as Brazil and members of the European Union consider measures to keep their data away from U.S. territory and U.S. technology giants including Google, Microsoft and Yahoo take extraordinary steps to block the collection of data by their government.
For months, Obama administration officials attacked Snowden’s motives and said the work of the NSA was distorted by selective leaks and misinterpretations.
On Dec. 16, in a lawsuit that could not have gone forward without the disclosures made possible by Snowden, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon described the NSA’s capabilities as “almost Orwellian” and said its bulk collection of U.S. domestic telephone records was probably unconstitutional.
The next day, in the Roosevelt Room [at the White house], an unusual delegation of executives from old telephone companies and young Internet firms told President Obama that the NSA’s intrusion into their networks was a threat to the U.S. information economy. The following day, an advisory panel appointed by Obama recommended substantial new restrictions on the NSA, including an end to the domestic call-records program. …
In the intelligence and national security establishments, Snowden is widely viewed as a reckless saboteur, and journalists abetting him little less so. …
It is commonly said of Snowden that he broke an oath of secrecy, a turn of phrase that captures a sense of betrayal. NSA Director Keith B. Alexander and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., among many others, have used that formula. …
Snowden noted matter-of-factly that Standard Form 312, the classified-information nondisclosure agreement, is a civil contract. He signed it, but he pledged his fealty elsewhere.
“The oath of allegiance is not an oath of secrecy,” he said. “That is an oath to the Constitution. That is the oath that I kept that Keith Alexander and James Clapper did not.” …
Beginning in October 2012, he said, he brought his misgivings to two superiors in the NSA’s Technology Directorate and two more in the NSA Threat Operations Center’s regional base in Hawaii. For each of them, and 15 other co-workers, Snowden said he opened a data query tool called BOUNDLESSINFORMANT, which used color-coded “heat maps” to depict the volume of data ingested by NSA taps.
His colleagues were often “astonished to learn we are collecting more in the United States on Americans than we are on Russians in Russia,” he said. Many of them were troubled, he said, and several said they did not want to know any more.
“I asked these people, ‘What do you think the public would do if this was on the front page?’ ” he said. He noted that critics have accused him of bypassing internal channels of dissent. “How is that not reporting it? How is that not raising it?” …
By last December, Snowden was contacting reporters, although he had not yet passed along any classified information. He continued to give his colleagues the “front-page test”, he said, until April. …
Just before releasing the documents this spring, Snowden made a final review of the risks. He had overcome what he described at the time as a “selfish fear” of the consequences for himself.
“I said to you the only fear [left] is apathy — that people won’t care, that they won’t want change.” …
The documents leaked by Snowden compelled attention because they revealed to Americans a history they did not know they had. …
With assistance from private communications firms, the NSA had learned to capture enormous flows of data at the speed of light from fiber-optic cables that carried Internet and telephone traffic over continents and under seas. According to one document in Snowden’s cache, the agency’s Special Source Operations group, which as early as 2006 was said to be ingesting “one Library of Congress every 14.4 seconds”, had an official seal that might have been parody: an eagle with all the world’s cables in its grasp.
Each year, NSA systems collected hundreds of millions of e-mail address books, hundreds of billions of cellphone location records and trillions of domestic call logs.
Most of that data, by definition and intent, belonged to ordinary people suspected of nothing. But vast new storage capacity and processing tools enabled the NSA to use the information to map human relationships on a planetary scale. Only this way, its leadership believed, could the NSA reach beyond its universe of known intelligence targets.
In the view of the NSA, signals intelligence, or electronic eavesdropping, was a matter of life and death, “without which America would cease to exist as we know it”, according to an internal presentation in the first week of October 2001, as the agency ramped up its response to the al-Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
With stakes such as those, there was no capability the NSA believed it should leave on the table. The agency followed orders from President George W. Bush to begin domestic collection without authority from Congress and the courts. When the NSA won those authorities later, some of them under secret interpretations of laws passed by Congress between 2007 and 2012, the Obama administration went further still. …
In the Moscow interview, Snowden said, “What the government wants is something they never had before,” adding: “They want total awareness. The question is, is that something we should be allowing?”
Snowden likened the NSA’s powers to those used by British authorities in Colonial America, when “general warrants” allowed for anyone to be searched. The FISA court, Snowden said, “is authorizing general warrants for the entire country’s metadata.”
“The last time that happened, we fought a war over it,” he said.
Technology, of course, has enabled a great deal of consumer surveillance by private companies, as well. The difference with the NSA’s possession of the data, Snowden said, is that government has the power to take away life or freedom.
At the NSA, he said, “there are people in the office who joke about, ‘We put warheads on foreheads.’ Twitter doesn’t put warheads on foreheads.”
Privacy, as Snowden sees it, is a universal right, applicable to American and foreign surveillance alike.
“I don’t care whether you’re the pope or Osama bin Laden,” he said. “As long as there’s an individualized, articulable, probable cause for targeting these people as legitimate foreign intelligence, that’s fine. I don’t think it’s imposing a ridiculous burden by asking for probable cause. …
When it comes to spying on allies, by Snowden’s lights, the news is not always about the target.
“It’s the deception of the government that’s revealed,” Snowden said, noting that the Obama administration offered false public assurances after the initial reports about NSA surveillance in Germany. “The U.S. government said: ‘We follow German laws in Germany. We never target German citizens.’ And then the story comes out and it’s: ‘What are you talking about? You’re spying on the chancellor.’ You just lied to the entire country, in front of Congress.” …
In hope of keeping focus on the NSA, Snowden has ignored attacks on himself.
“Let them say what they want,” he said. “It’s not about me.”
Former NSA and CIA director Michael V. Hayden predicted that Snowden will waste away in Moscow as an alcoholic, like other “defectors.” To this, Snowden shrugged. He does not drink at all. Never has.
But Snowden knows his presence here is easy ammunition for critics. He did not choose refuge in Moscow as a final destination. He said that once the U.S. government voided his passport as he tried to change planes en route to Latin America, he had no other choice. … “I have no relationship with the Russian government. I have not entered into any agreements with them.”
“If I defected at all,” Snowden said, “I defected from the government to the public.”
We don’t think it likely that the NSA will stop its surveillance of the whole earth and your and our emails. It’s a power beyond the wildest dreams of all governments ever to be able to know everything about everyone, and now that it has become possible, and is being used, it will never be given up. No court judgment will stop it. No act of Congress. Preventing terrorist attacks is the excuse. Power is the reason.
At least we know about it now. For that we have to thank Edward Snowden.
This video of Friedrich Hayek talking to students gets to be most interesting – we think – round about the 16 minute mark, when he explains why the monopoly power of government to issue money should be taken away from it. He goes on to argue against the idea of “social justice”. Justice applies to individuals, not “a state of affairs”. Most interesting of all, perhaps, is the case he makes against the idea that individuals who “do good” directly to other individuals are the great benefactors of society. On the contrary, the “selfish” people who produce goods for profit do far more good to far more people, indirectly. Towards the end he makes the point that the more complex a society is, the less able government is to understand its needs and plan for them.
Seth Mandel writes at Commentary online:
The fact that the Supreme Court will hear a religious freedom-based challenge to the ObamaCare contraception mandate is the kind of story that possesses significance likely beyond any volume of coverage it will receive. Indeed, while liberal activists will repeatedly try to cast this in the mold of the fictional “war on women,” their own arguments reveal just how far-reaching a definitive ruling on this would be for American religious and political practice. …
Liberals have a curious definition of rights. Last night … the birth-control activist Sandra Fluke [said] on MSNBC …
There’s an attack on allowing employers to be required to provide this insurance coverage on insurance that employees pay for, at the same time that there’s an attack on public availability through clinics.
One more time: [Fluke reckons that] there’s an attack on allowing employers to be required to provide this insurance.
To the left, there is no freedom without government coercion. … That’s the argument the left is running with: they want you to be forced to provide the funding for even their most private activities; only then will you be truly free.
But Fluke isn’t the only one making this argument. … [In] an MSNBC roundtable on the issue … the panelists are panicked at the thought of affording Americans full religious liberty because, essentially, it’s then a slippery slope to protecting all constitutional rights. And then – mayhem, or something:
“This is another reason why we should have moved toward a single payer system of health coverage, because we’re just going to end up with one challenge after another – whether it’s in the courts or outside of the courts – and I just don’t see an end to this,” [Bob] Herbert submitted.“We’re already on the slippery slope of corporate personhood,” he continued. “Where does it end?”
“Where does it end” is the attention-getter in that comment, but I think Herbert’s plea for single-payer health insurance is just as telling. Put the government in charge of the country’s health care, Herbert argues, because then it will be much more difficult for Americans to “challenge” the government’s infringement on their freedom. It’s not just legal challenges either. Herbert says those challenges can be brought “in the courts or outside of the courts,” the latter perhaps an allusion to the shady world of participatory democracy.
So this is much more than a fight over birth control, or even health insurance. It’s about two fundamentally different views on American constitutional freedoms. Conservatives want those freedoms to be expansive and protected, as the Founders did. Liberals want those freedoms to be curtailed lest … the democratic process imperil the state’s coercive powers.
Thus far we agree with Seth Mandel. We are for individual freedom: the Left (whether it calls itself liberal or progressive or socialist) is not.
Free people can say what they like and do what they like (short of interfering with anyone’s else’s freedom), and that means they can believe anything they like, worship anything they like or nothing at all, make and follow any self-imposed rules they like. They only mustn’t impose their rules on anyone else, or if they’re in a group on anyone outside it.
If the government pays for everyone’s health care, it will claim the right to dictate how everyone must live in order to stay healthy. Paying for health care is the quickest way for a government to become a dictatorship. That is why government should not be the paymaster for health care.
But now the article changes from making good sense to arguing a spurious case for religion as a brake on government power:
The Founders saw religious freedom as elemental to personal liberty in America. But they were not alone in thinking that unimpeded religious worship was a guard against an overly ambitious or arrogant national government. As Michael Burleigh writes about the role of religion in post-French Revolution European politics, with a supporting quote from Edmund Burke:
The political function of religion was not simply to keep the lower orders quiescent, as has been tiresomely argued by generations of Marxists, but also to impress upon those who had power that they were here today and gone tomorrow, and responsible to those below and Him above: “All persons possessing any portion of power ought to be strongly and awfully impressed with an idea that they act in trust, and that they are to account for their conduct in that trust to the one great Master, Author, and Founder of society.”
Guarding against ambitious and arrogant government was not at all the point of allowing religious freedom in America. Allowing freedom and establishing participatory democracy set limits on government power, but the idea that the unleashing of all religions was done to ensure some sort of cumulative force for restraint is absurd.
Edmund Burke was an important philosopher of Conservatism. But that assertion of his does not stand up to examination. Were the popes and primates of the Catholic Church ever restrained in the way they exercised their nearly totalitarian power by remembering that they were “here today and gone tomorrow”? That they would have to “account for their conduct” to their Master, Author or whatever else they called their god? No, they were not. Nor did their actions ever suggest that they thought they “ought to be”. They carried on, and expected their successors to carry on, in the well-established tradition of compulsion by terror.
Mandel goes on:
Religion was not the “opiate of the people,” intended to keep them in line. It was, rather, to keep the government in line. This was not a revolutionary idea; it predated the American Constitution, certainly. As Francis Fukuyama writes in The Origins of Political Order: “The existence of a separate religious authority accustomed rulers to the idea that they were not the ultimate source of the law. The assertion of Frederic Maitland that no English king ever believed that he was above the law could not be said of any Chinese emperor, who recognized no law other than those he himself made.”
The medieval Church kept everyone in line, monarchs and people alike, as firmly as it could. It did exercise a brake on the powers of the secular rulers. (One famous example: King Henry II of England felt that he had to submit to the humiliating punishment imposed on him by Pope Alexander III for letting his knights murder Archbishop Thomas Becket in 1170.) But it is also true that the secular rulers exercised a brake on the power of the Church. There was a long sustained secular-papal power struggle (manifested notably, for instance, between the Pope-supporting Guelphs and the Emperor-supporting Ghibellines in Italy, a struggle that lasted from the 12th to the 15th centuries).
The Church or the belief in a Heavenly Judge had nothing whatever to do with English kings accepting that the law was above them. Magna Carta held them to it, and it was issued by King John in 1215 without any help from the Church.
Mandel seems to be trying to build a case – which he touches on by mentioning the Founders, but then wanders off it – that the liberty-enshrining Constitution of the United States was a product of the religiousness of those who framed it. The Constitution itself said no such thing. Individuals among the framers may have thought they were carrying out their God’s will when they wrote it – who can know? But what is certain is that they were inspired by the secular ideas of the Enlightenment – ideas which broke the power of the Churches forever. With all due respect to Edmund Burke – it was especially in post-French Revolution European and American politics that religion had no significant role.
If rulers are to be restrained by anything, it must be by the people they rule: by the democratic process that Mandel himself refers to.
“God” is superfluous to democracy, to justice, and to freedom. In his – ie the Church’s – long reign over Europe, there was no democracy, no justice, and no freedom. And wherever else religion dominates to this day, there is only oppression, injustice, subjugation and fear.