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.” Continue reading “Class Warfare, An American Tradition”→
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. Continue reading “Executive Tyranny: The Problem’s Bigger Than Obama”→
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.
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. Continue reading “The Political Debate We Need to Have”→
Barack Obama’s serial gross incompetence has elicited all sorts of explanatory theories. He’s a closet socialist, an Alinskyite radical, a secret Muslim, or an anti-American internationalist. Though some of Obama’s words and deeds give support to all these speculations, I prefer a simpler explanation. Obama is a Progressive––not a vague “progressive,” the elastic moniker liberals started using when the word “liberal” became politically toxic. Continue reading “Barack Obama and the Bad Ideas of Progressivism”→
A 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. Continue reading “What Would the Founders Think of Defunding Obamacare?”→
We are in scary times. The horrific photos of Ambassador Stevens bring to mind memories of Mogadishu or Fallujah, and make us ask why were there not dozens, if not vastly more, Marines around him in his hour of need. By preemptively caving into radical Islam and not defending the US Constitution and our traditions of protecting even uncouth expression, the Cairo embassy’s shameful communiqué only invited greater hostility by such manifest appeasement. Continue reading “Diplomacy: What Not To Do”→
The American Left used to champion free expression. We were lectured — correctly — that the price of being repulsed by occasional crude talk and art was worth paying. Only that way could Americans ensure our daily right to criticize those with greater power and influence whom we found wrong and objectionable. Continue reading “The First Amendment vs. Multiculturalism”→
President Obama recently issued an edict exempting an estimated 800,000 to 1 million illegal aliens from the consequences of federal immigration law. Ostensibly that blanket amnesty applies to those who arrived before the age of 16 and are younger than 30; who are in, or graduated from, high school or have served in the military; and who have not been convicted of a felony or multiple misdemeanors. Continue reading “Legal Illegal Immigration”→