Tag archives: liberalism

The Federalist Papers Still Matter

by Rob Schwarzwalder

May 7, 2012

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Peter Berkowitz of Stanford’s Hoover Institution has written a bracing reminder of the importance of The Federalist Papers and also how the reading of this essential document is being slighted in American higher education. The following quotes are particular gems:

… according to the progressive conceit, understanding America’s founding and the framing of the Constitution are as useful to dealing with contemporary challenges of government as understanding the horse-and-buggy is to dealing with contemporary challenges of transportation. Instead, meeting today’s needs requires recognizing that ours is a living constitution that grows and develops with society’s evolving norms and exigencies.… thus many of our leading opinion formers and policy makers seem to come unhinged when they encounter constitutional arguments apparently foreign to them but well-rooted in constitutional text, structure and history.

The Left, whether in our universities or our federal government, cannot abide a Constitution with a fixed meaning because this implies limitations on federal authority, which inherently would constrict the fundamental and ironic project of American liberalism: the radical autonomy of the individual enshrined in law, and the supervening capacity of the state to make it so. In other words, moral libertinism can only be ensured by a virtually totalitarian government. And since the Constitution has a defined meaning (why would it provide for its own amendment if its words and phrases could be re-interpreted per the desires of the political moment?), applying it as its signers intended is offensive, even primitive.

Read Berkowitz’s piece. More importantly, read The Federalist Papers and the Constitution they so eloquently and clearly explain. A good thing to be reminded why you’re a conservative, now and then.

Faith and Liberalism in the news

by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 30, 2011

There are no less than eight stories dealing with the religious beliefs of President Obama and his Republican challengers on RealClearReligion today. By historical standards, this is extraordinary: In no previous election season have the faith-related convictions of presidential candidates been so scrutinized.

The scrutiny comes primarily from a secular media mystified, and in some cases, plain disturbed, by the notion that personal faith might affect public policy decisions. In a much-discussed op-ed, New York Times Executive editor Bill Keller claims that “Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann are both affiliated with fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity and Rick Santorum comes out of the most conservative wing of Catholicism which has raised concerns about their respect for the separation of church and state, not to mention the separation of fact and fiction.”

Fervid subsets?” Does Keller envision Mrs. Bachmann handling rattlers, or Gov. Perry levitating? “Raised concerns” where, and who has raised them? Certain residents of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, whose understanding of the role of faith in American life is defined not by experience but the occasional PBS documentary? Certainly, if a politician claims to hear audibly the voice of God and asserts divine direction for highly specific policies (e.g., liberal Democrat Woodrow Wilson’s astounding comment that to oppose U.S. entry into the League of Nations was to oppose God), any reasonable person - believer or non-believer - would be justified in feeling uneasy. Yet to assert, as Keller does, that the faith of a Bachmann, a Perry, or a Santorum might be “a Trojan horse for a sect that believes it has divine instructions on how we should be governed” is both to mis-comprehend orthodox Christian faith and also to disparage the beliefs of most of one’s fellow countrymen.

Perhaps Mr. Keller and his jittery colleagues in the Fourth Estate should reflect on something then-Sen. Barack Obama said in a speech in 2006:

Americans are a religious people. 90 percent of us believe in God, 70 percent affiliate themselves with an organized religion, 38 percent call themselves committed Christians … the discomfort of some progressives with any hint of religion has often prevented us from effectively addressing issues in moral terms. Some of the problem here is rhetorical if we scrub language of all religious content, we forfeit the imagery and terminology through which millions of Americans understand both their personal morality and social justice … to say that men and women should not inject their ‘personal morality’ into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

I agree, for the most part; however, the discomfort of liberals with religion goes beyond the scrubbing of language. It goes to the heart of one’s philosophical basis for life itself: Is there, or is there not, an infinite but personal God who has communicated truth in understandable ways to human beings? Christians say yes; the irreligious cultural elite would say, “You’ve got to be kidding.”

In 2004, then-Times ombudsman Daniel Okrent - a liberal with an honest conscience - penned these lines about the Gray Lady; they could have been written about much of the “mainstream” press and, much more so, the shrill complainers of Left-wing blog sites and editorial commentary generally: “Is the New York Times a liberal paper? Of course it is … These are the social issues: gay rights, gun control, abortion and environmental regulation, among others. And if you think The Times plays it down the middle on any of them, you’ve been reading the paper with your eyes closed. But if you’re examining the paper’s coverage of these subjects from a perspective that is neither urban nor Northeastern nor culturally seen-it-all; if you are among the groups The Times treats as strange objects to be examined on a laboratory slide (devout Catholics, gun owners, Orthodox Jews, Texans); if your value system wouldn’t wear well on a composite New York Times journalist, then a walk through this paper can make you feel you’re traveling in a strange and forbidding world. Start with the editorial page, so thoroughly saturated in liberal theology that when it occasionally strays from that point of view the shocked yelps from the left overwhelm even the ceaseless rumble of disapproval from the right.”

In his second inaugural address, which is more of a meditation on the sovereignty and justice of God than a political speech, Abraham Lincoln observed, “if God wills that (the Civil War) continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether’.”

In 1865, the New York Times praised Lincoln’s speech for its “calmness, its modesty, its reserve,” and said, “We have a President who will be faithful to the end.” What would Mr. Keller say of them, and of Lincoln himself, today?

An Excellent Analysis of the Liberal Meltdown: Liberalism’s Very Bleak Future

by Chris Gacek

November 29, 2010

Perhaps, the best article on the recent election and the political trends that it represents was written by Chapman University professor, Joel Klotkin, in a Nov. 19 article for the Politico. While the media trumpets trends that they believe signal the long-run demise of conservatism (e.g., demographics of immigration), Klotkin criticizes analysts for overlooking the albatross of contemporary liberalism and its devastating impact on the Democrats one month ago. He notes that liberalism is no longer interested in producing upward economic mobility for the middle class:

Modern-day liberalism, however, is often ambivalent about expanding the economy preferring a mix of redistribution with redirection along green lines. Its base of political shock troops, public-employee unions, appears only tangentially interested in the health of the overall economy.

In fact, it is probably worse than Klotkin describes it because the environmentalists are completely opposed to any realistic use of carbon-based energy to power our economy. Thus, the Obama Administrations EPA is instituting amazingly destructive regulations in tandem with its Dept of the Interior that does everything it can to prevent fossil fuel extraction in the United States.

Klotkin, who lives in California, also appears to believe that Texas is the new California as he wrote in a recent Forbes column:

This state of crisis is likely to become the norm for the Golden State. In contrast to other hard-hit states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Nevada, which all opted for pro-business, fiscally responsible candidates, California voters decisively handed virtually total power to a motley coalition of Democratic-machine politicians, public employee unions, green activists and rent-seeking special interests.

California is now liberalisms Ground Zero with such winners in charge as Nancy Pelosi, Gavin Newsom, Henry Waxman, George Miller, etc. Oh, I forgot to list Jerry Brown who gave California public employees the right to unionize.

It is almost unimaginalble what has happened to California in twenty years. Yet, there was one enormous difference between California and the Southern states that supported Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984 the South has always been a right-to-work region. California was not and has harbored pockets of extreme Leftism never present in the South. The rise of the public employee unions along with environmentalists makes it virtually impossible for modern liberalism to present a pro-growth agenda that is an albatross about which Coleridge could have written mournful verse.