Friday Round-up: Freedom and Leaders
October 30, 2015 8 Comments
All you need to know about why this week’s debate was utterly useless.
Anybody surprised at NBC’s conduct? That what I thought.
Speaking of elections-
The Free World Has Lost Its Leader
From Dan Hannan.
The free world has lost its leader. In the absence of a vigorous American foreign policy, Canada’s Stephen Harper supplied his own. For the better part of a decade, he energetically championed Western interests. He was serious about fighting terrorism, keen on free trade and prepared to deploy proportionate force in defense of freedom.
His defeat in last week’s Canadian general election will be felt far beyond that sparse, chilly country. When other Western leaders fretted about Israel’s 2006 Lebanon war, he gave his full backing to the Jewish state. When others dithered over Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, he led international condemnation. Obliged to meet Vladimir Putin at a summit meeting, he was admirably curt: “I guess I’ll shake your hand, but I have only one thing to say to you: Get out of Ukraine.”
This is superb. It is also the most important article here, if you would understand how America got to the ugly place that we are now.
“Anatomy of a Juggernaut,” By Bradley C. S. Watson
The subtitle of Paul D. Moreno’s new book, “The Twilight of Constitutionalism and the Triumph of Progressivism,” is the thrust of a growing body of revisionist scholarship on the Progressive movement. Moreno adds a valuable historian’s perspective to this scholarship, which is associated largely with the “Claremont school” of political science. He notes the central conceit of twentieth-century American history: the triumphalist portrayal of an ever-expanding national state, one that would finally offer authentic liberty—freeing individuals not only from inequality but from the reactionary idea that human nature itself imposes permanent constraints.
Moreno suggests that the Obama presidency has brought this Progressive narrative squarely before the bar of public opinion. Enduring doubts about the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as “Obamacare,” conjoined with concerns about unprecedented levels of government spending, have shown that older notions of constitutional limits still animate at least some citizens. They demand a full hearing for constitutional arguments long after the political classes gave up on such arguments—nowhere better captured than in former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s dismissive response to a question about Obamacare’s constitutionality: “Are you serious?” she asked, with an incredulous laugh.
Our current situation, says Moreno, is that we occupy a “twilight zone between constitutional and unlimited government.” The political philosophy of the Founders is alive, if on life support. They were neither laissez faire libertarians nor statists, but constitutionalists. Their arguments are echoed today by Americans who believe that the US Constitution has a fixed meaning that binds political actors, a meaning that is informed by a moral and political philosophy anterior to the writing of that document. This view allows that a genuine common good exists, even in the face of considerable individual freedom—and that the government is bound to respect and pursue it. Under this older view, “class legislation” cannot be tolerated.
Moreno begins by considering the “old regime” left by the Civil War Republicans, who embraced the Founders’ constitutionalism even as they adopted Hamiltonian mercantilist economic policies in the midst of the American industrial revolution. He points to the postwar demobilization of the Union Army as evidence of Republicans’ commitment to the Founders’ idea of minimalist federal power. He further argues that the Republican revival of the “American System” of Hamilton and Henry Clay, “based on protective tariffs, banks, and internal improvements,” was largely within antebellum constitutional understandings.
A Heroine for our Time
Even as she held tightly to Islam, something was happening to Ali, thanks to her new English-language and reading skills: She was exposed to a world of ideas that contradicted what she was learning through the Qu’ran about man’s subjugation to the Qu’ran’s rules and about women’s subjugation to man. Dickens (especially Oliver Twist), Alcott, and even Nancy Drew exposed her to the idea of an individual with free will, one who freely makes choices for good or ill – but that are his choices. Even Nancy Drew was an inspiration, with her lauded brave and intrepid (albeit still feminine) spirit.
Armed with this growing intellectual arsenal, Ali began to ask the “why” questions that a repressive society cannot tolerate: Why must I be treated this way? Why don’t we celebrate individuality? Why do we force people to behave in a certain way when free nations achieve greater things? Why are women subordinate to men?