The Corporations Once Known as the Mainstream Media constantly trumpets the claim that President Obama was a Professor of Constitutional Law. And when he was campaigning he charged that President Bush was not respecting the Constitution when he fired eight prosecutors saying, “I was a constitutional law professor, which means unlike the current president I actually respect the Constitution.”
In this long over looked quote from a radio interview a Pre-President Obama laments the negative liberties he sees as a flaw in the Constitution and waxes eloquent in defense of the redistribution of wealth and the positive power of an intrusive welfare state.
“If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court. I think where it succeeded was to invest formal rights in previously dispossessed people, so that now I would have the right to vote. I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order as long as I could pay for it I’d be o.k. But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as its been interpreted and Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf, and that hasn’t shifted and one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was, um, because the civil rights movement became so court focused I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that.”
Unfortunately for this radical interpretation, liberty is a negative. Personal liberty is always and only possible when and where external control stops. We have the liberty to think as we wish because no one can control or even know our true inner thoughts. We do not have the liberty to steal; society has placed limits on that action which are enforced by external control. The Framers of our Constitution knew this which explains why our foundational document includes restrictions on the power of government not restrictions on individuals. Unless governmental control over the individual was limited there would be no liberty.
This has been common knowledge in our Republic since John Hancock signed his John Hancock and we declared to the world that the United States of America was going to be something different. We were determined to break free of the entangling state control stifling the monarchies of Europe. We would be a new type of nation where individual liberty, opportunity, and free enterprise would unleash the pent-up creativity and ingenuity would make real the genius of a free people. However, over the years many have fallen asleep, lulled into a trance by the prosperity and security this freedom from state control has fostered.
Slowly the knowledge of what gave vent to this prosperity and security has been lost and generations of Americans have been taught by state schools that free enterprise is evil and state paternalism is good. Generations have been bred to see governmental support, direction, and control as necessary and proper. They have ingested the poison of dependence metastasizing the debilitating life on the dole to the point where they see their continued receipt of stolen goods as an entitlement. So many have fallen for the licentious materialistic hedonism masquerading as life in a post-modern America that when asked, “What is the American Dream?” many will reply “To own your own home.” A response and a belief which made the congressionally mandated Fannie/Freddie induced housing bubble possible if not inevitable.
This shows the negative results of the positive reinforcement of materialism over intellectualism. The correct response to the question, “What is the American Dream?” is Individual liberty and opportunity. Once this was common knowledge among an engaged American public who realized that no one fought and died to own a home, people owned homes in America before the revolution. It was freedom that was the object of the Revolution and it is the individual liberty and opportunity that freedom enables that is the American dream. And today in America this individual liberty and opportunity has now become the object of ridicule in schools pushing a green agenda and a socialist future. The demand for a return to individual liberty and opportunity has become the disparaged slogan on signs at Tea Parties.
Our leaders have embraced instead the idea of “Positive Liberty” which is an oxymoron. By this they mean that the state should actively intervene in the lives of people to provide them with all that is necessary for lives lived as the leaders think they should be. What they are really New Speaking of is Socialism disguised as democracy. However, the increase of governmental power over people does not equate to liberty it equates to serfdom and only the progressive newspeak of a post-modern America could call this decrease of freedom an increase of liberty or democracy.
Alexis de Tocqueville said, “Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom socialism restricts it. Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent a mere number. Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.”
This positive liberty is the handmaiden of the other new positive that our progressive leaders wish to foist upon us: positive equality. The real equality, the one our ancestors fought and died for is equality of opportunity which is a negative, forcing the government stays out of the way and the people go as far as their investment of time, talent and treasure can take them. In our new progressive world government is supposed to act to create an equality of outcome so that all are equal all the time. This type of collective equality is to be advanced and protected by the all powerful state pushing down some, lifting others until all are equal at all times. This equality of outcome becomes an unlimited reality that is conceived of as the goal of society. Unfettered democracy defined as the participation of all in the political process either as rulers, dispensers or consumers becomes not only the goal but the means and the end in and of itself.
Thus our Constitutional Scholar-in-Chief is leading us step by step away from the individual liberty and opportunity that are the guardians of the American Dream and into a negative representation of our positive values. With another four years this administration will succeed in fundamentally transforming America.
One last quote from Alexis de Tocqueville “The American Republic will endure, until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money.”
PS: Don’t take the bribe.
Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College. He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com View the trailer for Dr. Owens’ latest book @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ypkoS0gGn8 © 2011 Robert R. Owens [email protected] Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook.