Tuesday, January 15, 2013

When progressives use the word "liberty", they mean setting the government free

In "Constitutional government in the United States", Woodrow Wilson writes the following: (page 70-71)
Some of our Presidents have deliberately held themselves off from using the full power they might legitimately have used, because of conscientious scruples, because they were more theorists than statesmen. They have held the strict literary theory of the Constitution, the Whig theory, the Newtonian theory, and have acted as if they thought that Pennsylvania Avenue should have been even longer than it is; that there should be no intimate communication of any kind between the Capitol and the White House; that the President as a man was no more at liberty to lead the houses of Congress by persuasion than he was at liberty as President to dominate them by authority,- supposing that he had, what he has not, authority enough to dominate them. But the makers of the Constitution were not enacting Whig theory, they were not making laws with the expectation that, not the laws themselves, but their opinions, known by future historians to lie back of them, should govern the constitutional action of the country. They were statesmen, not pedants, and their laws are sufficient to keep us to the paths they set us upon. The President is at liberty, both in law and conscience, to be as big a man as he can. His capacity will set the limit; and if Congress be overborne by him, it will be no fault of the makers of the Constitution,- it will be from no lack of constitutional powers on its part, but only because the President has the nation behind him, and Congress has not. He has no means of compelling Congress except through public opinion.

There's a lot here, so I'll go through this.

Some of our Presidents have deliberately held themselves off from using the full power they might legitimately have used, because of conscientious scruples, because they were more theorists than statesmen.

This is a lament. "The president has much more power than anybody has dared to use".

They have held the strict literary theory of the Constitution, the Whig theory, the Newtonian theory, and have acted as if they thought that Pennsylvania Avenue should have been even longer than it is; that there should be no intimate communication of any kind between the Capitol and the White House; that the President as a man was no more at liberty to lead the houses of Congress by persuasion than he was at liberty as President to dominate them by authority,- supposing that he had, what he has not, authority enough to dominate them.

To dominate them, eh? So a president which doesn't dominate congress, a president which doesn't step outside of the constitution's strict literary theory, is not exercising the full potential liberty of his position.

The President is at liberty, both in law and conscience, to be as big a man as he can. His capacity will set the limit; and if Congress be overborne by him, it will be no fault of the makers of the Constitution,- it will be from no lack of constitutional powers on its part, but only because the President has the nation behind him, and Congress has not.

This gets right at Wilson's promise to be an "unconstitutional governor". But it extends it. To the Presidency.

While Theodore Roosevelt was fairly thuggish in his actions regarding constitutional circumvention - that is, he just did what he wanted. "I want it, so I'm going to take it. This stands in my way, so I ignore it".

Woodrow Wilson is a whole different character. He put thought into the best means of circumventing the Constitution, he actively devised what he figured was the best way of unlocking the presidency, of setting the presidency free of all these constraints placed there by the Founding Fathers. Theodore Roosevelt certainly did set the precedent, but Wilson is who devised the mechanics of how it should work. It's Wilson who officially ushered in the age of the Presidential legislator. What Herbert Croly was actively calling for, Wilson was too. And once he became president he made it a reality.

He has no means of compelling Congress except through public opinion.

Wilson is talking about propaganda. It's no coincidence that America's first full fledged propaganda mill - the CPI - was formed under Wilson. Wilson brought in master propagandists like Edward Bernays, Walter Lippmann, and George Creel.

It is through Wilson that we officially see the death of the executive branch, and the rise of the national legislator. To put this plainly, starting in 1912 America has a legislative branch, a legislative branch, and a judicial branch. There's an interesting observation in this. One of the most hated presidents by those on the left is Calvin Coolidge. Old "Silent Cal". Perhaps seeing all of this will bring to light for you the real reason why progressives call him that - Coolidge wasn't a national legislator. He remained silent, as congress did it's job. And he in turn did his actual job - executing laws. Unlike Wilson who was saturated by ambition and faction, Coolidge actually was a president and not a legislator.

You can also see this in the words of FDR. In FDR's famous Eleventh State of the Union Address, known as the "Second Bill of Rights" speech, FDR says the following:

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights-among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our Nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded-these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. "Necessitous men are not free men." People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

Pay careful attention to the words he uses. He says twice, "political rights". This portion of FDR's speech highlights how progressives are very good at mastering the language. He says "inalienable" once, which gets people thinking that FDR is paying tribute and honor to the great Declaration of Independence. But then he switches it up. These rights aren't endowed by our creator. They're political rights, granted by government. (which is why government can create more rights, or, where we're at now under Obama, why government can take rights away. They're only political rights in the view of progressives)

But then FDR says "Necessitous men are not free men", and "true freedom cannot exist without economic security".

So all this freedom from government business? That's fake freedom. True freedom can only exist if government is set free from the constraints of the Constitution and the Founding Fathers. There's FDR, continuing the progressive legacy of Woodrow Wilson.

http://tinyurl.com/am6wgxt

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment