THE SAPIENT SPARROW: conservatism for commoners

"What has always made the State a hell on earth has been precisely that man has tried to make it his heaven."–Holderlin

STOP! WAIT! COME BACK!

“The truth is, it took nearly a decade of failed economic policies to create this mess, and it will take years to fully repair the damage. But I am confident that we are finally headed in the right direction. We are moving forward. ; And what we can’t afford right now is to go back to the same ideas that created this mess in the first place.”—President Barak Obama, July 23, 2010 in weekly address

In a four page article in National Review Online, William Voegeli systematically argues that Liberalism is dangerous.

If politics is defined as “the way power is organized”, American power was conceived to be essentially organized by individual citizens in a free market who then delegated a portion of that power to duly elected representatives.  Voegeli makes the point that power thus organized is responsive to the electorate, because their positions depend on the support of the electorate.

As the result of Liberalism, we now have a system in which Congressional power is largely (mis)placed in a myriad of Government Agencies: SSA, EPA, US Department of Ed., etc., etc. who can regulate extra-legally.  These unelected bureaucrats are not responsive to citizens, because citizens have no power to fire them.  Thus, the individual is diminished and devalued by huge, faceless Government machinery.

America originated with the idea of an individual with natural, God-given, inalienable rights. This idea preceded laws, regulations and policies.  The rights of an individual citizen of the United States were not changeable, could not be abolished, nor could they be bestowed.  Humans possessed these rights by virtue of being created in the image of God.

Today housing, jobs, health care, transportation, food, childcare are identified as “rights”.  They are not. Furthermore, when we treat them as such, we are treading into an extra-Constitutional boggy swamp.  “Rights” that are invented and then distributed “fairly” after taking money from other citizens to pay for them are simply favors give to specific groups at the expense of individual citizens.

These Leftist ideas should alert us that our Country is traveling into an uninhabitable landscape.  Indeed Voegeli concludes his article with a plea to “turn around and go back”—wise words to cling to during this “Summer of Recovery” when we continue to hear that we cannot “go back”.

Voegeli’s summary is below.  Take the time to read his entire article.  It is well worth it.

“C. S. Lewis wrote that since progress means getting closer to your goal, when you’ve taken a wrong turn and are getting farther and farther from your destination, the truly “progressive” response is to turn around and go back to the right road. Most conservatives believe that America took a wrong turn in 1932, one that has led us farther away from the goal of preserving and strengthening republican self-government. Self-styled progressives talked us into that navigational error, and in the subsequent 78 years their liberal disciples have continued on the wrong road, superintending a rolling regime change that has steadily hollowed out our constitutional republic and replaced it with an administrative state, one increasingly indifferent to ordinary citizens’ concerns and insulated from their opposition.

The conservatives now reviving constitutionalism are rightly insistent on the need to retrace our steps, and to undo the mistakes that have supplanted limited with unlimited government. The point is not to go back to 1932 and stay there, compiling a list of things government cannot do and problems it cannot address. The point, rather, is to resume progress on the road not taken: toward a government that is both limited and vigorous, scrupulous about upholding the principles of republicanism but energetic and prudent about working within the framework created by those principles to respond to economic and social changes with policies that advance the people’s prosperity and security.”

— William Voegeli is a contributing editor of The Claremont Review of Books and a visiting scholar at Claremont McKenna College’s Salvatori Center.

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