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Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto by Mark R Levin

February 5, 2022

Conservatism is a way of understanding life, society, and governance. The Founders were heavily influenced by certain philosophers, among them Adam Smith (spontaneous order), Charles Montesquieu (separation of powers), and especially John Locke (natural rights); they were also influenced by their faiths, personal experiences, and knowledge of history (including the rise and fall of the Roman Empire). Edmund Burke, who was both a British statesman and thinker, is often said to be the father of modern conservatism. He was an early defender of the American Revolution and advocate of representative government. He wrote of the interconnection of liberty, free markets, religion, tradition, and authority. The Conservative, like the Founders, is informed by all these great thinkers—and more.

For much of American history, the balance between governmental authority and individual liberty was understood and excepted. Federal power was confined to that which was specifically enumerated in the Constitution and no more. And that power was further limited, for it was disbursed among three federal branches – the legislative, executive, and judicial. Beyond that, the power remained with the states and ultimately the people.

The Framers recognized that the Constitution may require adjustments from time to time. Therefore, they provided two methods for proposing amendments, only one of which has been used in adopting all current amendments. It requires a super majority of two-thirds of the members of both Houses of Congress to propose an amendment to the states for ratification, and three-fourths of the states to successfully ratify the proposed amendment. In all our history the Constitution has been amended only twenty-seven times – the first ten of which, the Bill of Rights, were adopted shortly after the Constitution was ratified. Clearly the Framers did not intend the Constitution to be easily altered. It was to be a lasting contract that could be modified only by the considered judgment of a significant representation of the body politic.

But in the 1930s, during the great depression, the Statists successfully launched a counterrevolution that radically and fundamentally altered the nature of American society. President Franklin Roosevelt and an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress, through an array of federal projects, entitlements, taxes, and regulations known as the New Deal, breached the Constitution’s firewalls. At first the Supreme Court fought back, striking down New Deal programs as exceeding the limits of federal constitutional authority, violating state sovereignty, and trampling on private property rights. But rather than seek an expansion of federal power through the amendment process, which would likely have blunted Roosevelt’s ambitions, Roosevelt threatened the very make up of the court by proposing to pack it with sympathetic judges who would go along with his counterrevolution. Although Roosevelt’s plan failed, the justices had been effectively intimidated. And new justices, who shared Roosevelt’s statism, began replacing the older justices on the court. It was not long before the court became little more than a rubber stamp for Roosevelt’s policies.

The federal government began passing laws and creating administrative agencies at a dizzying pace, increasing its control over economic activity and, hence, individual liberty. It used taxation not merely to fund constitutionally legitimate governmental activities, but also to redistribute wealth, finance welfare programs, set prices and production limits, create huge Public Works programs, and establish pension and unemployment programs. Roosevelt used his new power to expand political alliances and create electoral constituencies – unions, farmers, senior citizens, and ethnic groups. From this era forward, the Democratic Party and the federal government would become inextricably intertwined, and the Democratic Party would become as dependent on federal power for its sustenance as the governmental dependents it would create. Ironically, industrial expansion resulting from World War II eventually ended the Great Depression, not the New Deal. Indeed, the enormous tax and regulatory burden imposed on the private sector by the New Deal prolonged the economic recovery.

The significance of the New Deal is not in any one program, but its sweeping break from our founding principles and constitutional limitations. Roosevelt himself broke with the two-presidential-term tradition started by George Washington by running for four terms. His legacy includes a federal government that has become a massive, unaccountable conglomerate: it is the nation’s largest creditor, debtor, lender, employer, consumer, contractor, grantor, property owner, tenant, insurer, healthcare provider, and pension guarantor.

And yet, the Statist has an insatiable appetite for control. His sights are set on his next meal even before he has fully digested his last. He is constantly agitating for government action. And in the furtherance of that purpose, the Statist speaks in the tongue of the demagogue, concocting one pretext and grievance after another to manipulate public perceptions and build popular momentum for the divestiture of liberty and property from its rightful possessors. The industrious, earnest, and successful are demonized as perpetrators of various offenses against the public good, which justifies governmental intervention on behalf of an endless parade of “victims.” In this way, the perpetrator and the victim are subordinated to the government’s authority – the former by outright theft, the latter by a dependent existence. In truth, both are made victims by the real perpetrator, the Statist.

Excerpts from Mark R Levin’s book “Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto”

Buy it. It’s worth the money.

I’m reading it again.

Note: The Biden Administration is led by statists (progressive liberals).

From → All my posts

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