We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Was the Bill of Rights an error? It is debatable. If you recall, the NY delegation insisted on it.
Every time I find myself slipping into the modern statist mindset, the assumptions of which dominate so much political discourse, I try to step back and remind myself that the American experiment was not so much about instituting specific rights for individuals as it was about limiting the power and rights of the Federal state, leaving all the rest of the power to individual people (or the individual states and localities).
The problem with the Bill of Rights is that it makes it appear that those are the peoples' delimited rights. They even decided to stick in the #10, redundantly I think:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
America is not about rights. America is about the locus of power and self-determination. In other words, the government has (or had) strictly limited rights and powers. That sort of freedom from government was the whole point. Rights are for peasants and serfs, grasping for crumbs of freedom and autonomy or, in the "positive rights" lingo, grasping for freebies. American government was meant to be in handcuffs while we, the people, led our lives freely, and as we thought best.
Over time, political freedom has expanded in some ways: emancipation of slaves, women's suffrage. In other ways, the growth of the would-be leviathan state has usurped much individual freedom - albeit with the consent of the people who seek benefit from its growing power and wealth.
The Libertarian side of me would love to see "a new birth of freedom." Who is the greatest enemy of freedom from state power? Us - the voters, who have consistently for 100 years been willing to trade a birthright for a bowl of lentils.
The left believes strongly in social solutions. It believes that all our ills are social in nature and that social justice can only be practiced by a healthy society. Their idea of a healthy society is totalitarian but they have that in common with most ideologues who want a perfect state, rather than a free state.
Our idea of perfection is good old messy individual freedom and responsibility.
Barone today quoted the stunningly perspicacious de Toqueville:
"Thus, taking each individual by turns in its powerful hands and kneading him as it likes, the sovereign extends its arms over society as a whole; it covers its surface with a network of small, complicated, painstaking, uniform rules through which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls cannot clear a way to surpass the crowd; it does not break wills, but it softens them, bends them and directs them; it rarely forces one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one's acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrial animals of which the government is the shepherd."
That is what House Republicans are fighting to reverse.
I think the last line in the de Touqueville quote box is meant to be part of the editor's comments... no?
Two GKC quotes are brought to mind:
“The free man owns himself. He can damage himself with either eating or drinking; he can ruin himself with gambling. If he does he is certainly a damn fool, and he might possibly be a damned soul; but if he may not, he is not a free man any more than a dog.” – Broadcast talk 6-11-35
“When you break the big laws, you do not get freedom; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws.” – Daily News, 7/29/05
Al al Ongtha Watchtowa
A law that needs to be enforced shouldn't be a law!