Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Tag Archives: Founding Fathers

Class Warfare, An American Tradition

We are no more partisan today than we were at the nation’s founding.

by Bruce S. Thornton // Defining Ideas 

Are we more “polarized” and “partisan” than we were in the past? Political commentators think so. In a recentAtlantic profile, conservative pollster Frank Luntz attributed his cynicism about American politics to the unprecedented polarization of the American people he has seen in his recent work with focus groups. They are “contentious and argumentative,” don’t “listen to each other as they once had,” and are not “interested in hearing other points of view.” The fault lies in Washington, where the people are “picking up their leads.” Read more →

Executive Tyranny: The Problem’s Bigger Than Obama

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine 

Barack Obama is threatening to bypass Congress and use executive orders to achieve the policy changes he can’t get through legislation. “We are not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help that they need,” he said during the State of the Union address. “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone.” Here seemingly is one more item in the indictment of Barack Obama’s arrogant dismissal of the Constitutional order, and his contempt for mixed government. Read more →

The Inequality Smokescreen

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine 

Desperate for a diversion from the disasters of Obamacare, the president has conjured up the old leftist “income inequality” cliché. His court-pundits complain that “the richest nation on earth is starting to resemble a banana republic,” according toThe New Republic, while Berkeley Professor Robert Reich has thundered against “casino capitalism,” blaming it for “the greatest concentration of the nation’s income and wealth at the very top since the Gilded Age of the nineteenth century, with the richest 400 Americans owning as much as the bottom 150 million put together.” Read more →

The Political Debate We Need to Have

Today, we treat politics as a sport, but it’s really a conflict of ideologies between federalists and technocrats.

by Bruce S. Thornton // Defining Ideas 

The media and pundits treat politics like a sport. The significance of the recent agreement to postpone the debt crisis until January, for instance, is really about which party won and which lost, which party’s tactics are liable to be more successful in the next election, and which politician is a winner and which a loser. But politics rightly understood is not about the contest of policies or politicians. It’s about the philosophical principles and ideas that create one policy rather than another—that’s what it should be about, at least.imgres

From that point of view, the conflict between Democrats and Republicans concerns the size and role of the federal government, which is no surprise to anyone who even casually follows politics. But more important are the ideas that ground arguments for or against limited government. These ideas include our notions of human nature, and what motivates citizens when they make political decisions. Our political conflicts today reflect the two major ways Americans have answered these questions.

The framing of the Constitution itself was predicated on one answer, best expressed by Italian philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli: “It is necessary to whoever arranges to found a Republic and establish laws in it, to presuppose that all men are bad and that they will use their malignity of mind every time they have the opportunity.” Throughout the debates during the Constitutional convention, the state ratifying conventions, and the essays in the Federalist, the basis of the Constitution was the view that human nature is flawed.

As Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 6,men are “ambitious, vindictive and rapacious,” and are motivated by what James Madison called “passions and interests.” These destructive passions and selfish interests were particularly predominant among the masses, whose ignorance of political theory and history left them vulnerable to demagogues. Read more →

What Would the Founders Think of Defunding Obamacare?

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine 

800px-Constitution_We_the_PeopleA few days ago CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin, speaking about the Republican House bill defunding Obamacare, commented, “Certainly not the way the Founding Fathers maybe drew this thing up.” It’s certainly a surprise to hear an anchor on CNN, an organization biased in favor of progressives, appealing to the authority of the Constitution. Read more →

The Lost Meaning of Independence Day

by Bruce S. Thornton

Front Page Magazine

362px-Fourth_of_July_fireworks_behind_the_Washington_Monument,_1986Independence Day is a time of backyard barbeques and fireworks, department-store sales and blockbuster movies, patriotic bunting and flying the flag––in short, a time of leisure and consumption, with a few obligatory nods to the momentous event that July 4 is supposed to celebrate. But as the years go by we have lost the significance of the Declaration of Independence, and that amnesia has made it easier for the progressive leviathan state to encroach upon our freedom. Read more →

A Brief History of Media Bias

Who said that newspapers are supposed to report the news in an objective and fact-based way?

by Bruce S. Thornton

Defining Ideas

The revelation that the Department of Justice acquired and read the phone records of Associated Press editors and reporters does not change the obvious fact that the mainstream media have been reliable supporters of the Democratic Party, even if they are unappreciated by the administration. Read more →

Big Government’s Abuses of Power

Monitoring AP but not detaining Tamerlan Tsarnaev–there is a common theme.

by Victor Davis Hanson

National Review Online

Government is now so huge, powerful, and callous that citizens risk becoming virtual serfs, lacking the freedoms guaranteed by the Founders. Read more →

The Tin-Drum Progressive Boomers

by Bruce S. Thornton

FrontPage

Like the hero of Gunter Grass’ novel The Tin Drum, America’s progressive Baby Boomers chose not to grow up. Why should they? Read more →

Democracy’s New Discontents

by Victor Davis Hanson

Tribune Media Services

Once upon a time, loud dissent, filibustering in the Senate, and gridlock in the House were as democratic as apple pie. Read more →

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