In the early days after the attacks, we were reminded that America is not only the land of the free, but also the home of the brave. Terrorist acts can shake the foundation of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. We could not have imagined that in the decade to follow, our country would engage in policies that directly defied American values and undermined our Constitution.
Reclaiming Our Constitutional Heritage
That is not who we are, or who we want to be. The way forward lies in decisively turning our backs on the policies and practices that violate our greatest strength: our Constitution and the commitment it embodies to the rule of law. It is that strength which is the best rejoinder our nation has to violence and to those who advocate it.
Liberty and security do not compete in a zero-sum game; our freedoms are the very foundation of our strength and security. Consistent application of the law is what ensures that practices don't change simply because of a change in the White House. Our choice is not between safety and freedom; in fact it is our fundamental values that are the very foundation of our strength and security.
Chapter 5: Governing Diversity: Prospects for Putting the Public Back into Public Service
The controversy over the planned Park 51 community center in New York City is only one example of opposition to mosques and Islamic centers in the United States. The authority for a government to act comes from specific provisions made by the people through the Constitution, and the extent or breadth of that authority to act ought only be changed by the people, through constitutional means. Murray cannot truly object to amendments, since they are all consistent with constitutionalism.
He concentrates not on Progressive governments or the Progressive amendments, but rather on the rejection of the very idea of constitutionalism beginning in with Helvering v. A series of Supreme Court decisions over the next several years altered the power of the federal government dramatically without recourse to constitutional means—which is to say an extra-constitutional attack on the American tradition and institutions of self-rule. The court also unleashed the regulatory power of the federal government, effectively encouraging a largely autonomous bureaucracy.
The most important growth of the regulatory state took place during the Nixon administration, when general welfare regulations like occupational safety or clean air gave regulatory agencies enormous discretion to impose regulations on any business based on criteria determined by the bureaucracy itself. The near autonomy of the regulatory agencies including administrative courts outside the normal judicial system gave members of Congress both deniability for abuses in the system and the opportunity to serve as influence peddlers for large businesses that need Congressional advocacy as much as members of Congress need political donations.
This cozy relationship facilitated a regulatory system favoring large corporations that can influence final policy decision, while alienating small and nearly powerless businesses that lack access to those who can influence the process. The myriad and often contradictory policies flowing from countless agencies gave agents from those agencies enormous discretionary power to enforce selectively those regulations.
Small businesses lack not only the wherewithal to keep up with regulations but also the resources to hire counsel to defend themselves in the administrative courts system. They are victims of a lawless administrative system while being cut out of the political process that ought to provide redress. And this leads Murray to his most depressing claim: the system is so designed as to be beyond the reach of the normal political process.
Reclaiming Our State Government :: Fox&Hounds
Taking over Congress or the presidency, for instance, can do little more than effect marginal reforms. The federal government has lost legitimacy in the eyes of a self-governing people. The proper response is civil disobedience.
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This fund would defend and thus empower others to disobey those businesses that resist the capricious and lawless regulatory system. The government has enormous reach but very limited resources. Widespread refusal to comply with the dictates of absurd regulations or false charges from regulatory agencies would both make the cost of administration too high and bring to public attention through many well-funded lawsuits the actual tyranny of the regulatory state. Clogging the courts with lawsuits that expose both the frivolity of most regulations and the capricious rule of unelected bureaucrats would compel the courts to reverse decisions that disconnected the discretionary power of the administrative agencies from Congress.
This would not only make it nearly impossible for the agencies to pass so many regulations but also require that those regulations be subject to political scrutiny of the broader electorate. These proposals for action—rather more modest than I would suggest—Murray places in a very hopeful context.
Pluralism in religious beliefs, family structure, economic conditions, cultural forms, and political ideas fostered an environment conducive to robust local liberties. A consensus at the national level on policies that concern everyday living was impossible, making the intellectual commitment to the American project also a practical necessity.
Pluralism is necessary for a nation as large as the United States to be committed to a large measure of local rule. One thing does seem clear: the cultural sorting that is making blue states bluer and red states crimson is also making national agendas harder to sustain. I will take that as good news. The latter requires a more robust account of that heritage that brings with it a clear explanation of why humans need an inheritance and why revolution betrays a most human need to be part of a story worth remembering.
Ted V. McAllister holds the Edward L.
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