The New Criterion recently published a superb essay by Myron Magnet in defense of America’s founding principles. I’ve previously written about the dangers of the 1619 Project being taught in North Carolina schools and given our era of civic illiteracy this is a much-needed piece. Magnet brilliantly reveals how America’s Founders’ knew that slavery was an evil institution, contradicting the lie often propagated by the 1619 Project that our nation broke with Great Britain to preserve the institution of slavery.
Affirming America’s founding ideals is a requirement if we are going to preserve inherent rights, the rule of law, religious liberty, the 2nd Amendment, and the entire Bill of Rights itself.
President Donald Trump’s Mt. Rushmore address was wildly denounced by many in the media, yet his remarks from July are probably one of the more aggressive defenses of American exceptionalism. “Make no mistake, this left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American revolution,” declared Trump.
It’s an important reminder that as former president Calvin Coolidge so aptly noted in his brilliant address on the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, that “no advance, no progress can be made beyond” the ideals and framework of America’s founding.
I’d encourage everybody to read or listen to Magnet’s piece titled “The Founders’ priceless legacy.” (There is an option to listen if you don’t want to sit down and read his essay).
Here are just a few of the highlights that caught my attention and that are extremely relevant now:
1) The current upheaval is the latest paroxysm of a cultural revolution that has gained momentum for half a century or more, and its trajectory from the universities to popular culture is too well known to need repeating. What I want to discuss here is the precious value of our inheritance from the Founding Fathers that today’s vandals want to destroy. If they succeed—since history, even our own, doesn’t always go forward and upward, despite the claims of the so-called “progressives”—we will find ourselves in a new Dark Age of constraint and superstition.
2) Third, in the Founders’ view, economic freedom is an inseparable component of liberty. In their Lockean political scheme, because your natural right to own the private property you have acquired or built is as absolute as your right to life and liberty, its protection by government is no less fundamental a civil right. You are free to accumulate it and do with it what you please, under government protection.
3) Fourth, government officials work for the citizens, not vice-versa. As Jefferson later put it, “Kings are the servants, not the proprietors of the people.” If officials don’t do the job government was instituted to do, or if they use the power that citizens have given them for any purpose beyond what the citizens have specified, they lose their legitimacy and, as Locke wrote and the Declaration of Independence emphasized, they can be fired. Government by expert administrators who supposedly know better than the people themselves was no part of their vision. As early as the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was complaining that George III “has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.” Might as well be the epa.
4) It’s important to remember today the Founders’ warning that the mere fact that you elect representatives to govern you is no guarantee of liberty. You will readily think of examples.
5) Perhaps because the Founders recognized that they had to work within the limits of human nature, instead of trying to change it, their revolution was the only great one that succeeded.
6) If citizens start to take liberty for granted, if their culture—molded by reporters and writers, preachers and teachers—starts to hold other values in higher esteem, then the spirit that gives life to the Constitution will flicker out.
Don’t ever be shamed into thinking that so many politicians today are more enlightened or superior in intellect to the individuals who came together to advocate for liberty, and not only that but built the model and framework for a government that is meant to resist tyranny.