Faithful readers of Constituting America’s 90-Day Study have followed the story of our constitution through each of our presidential elections. We have seen that the moral foundations of both of our constitutions—the Articles of Confederation and the United States Constitution that replaced it—find their most cogent expression in the Declaration of Independence. There, the Founders held the self-evident truth that all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Governments must therefore be framed to secure those unalienable rights. Our God-endowed, or natural, rights—regulated by the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God—find security in our legal or civil rights, defended by a system of government so structured as to channel the ambitions of political men and women toward the guardianship of those rights. This requires a regime designed to empower the government so our rights can be defended effectively against those who threaten them, at home or abroad. At the same time, the powers of that government will check and balance one another, so that no single individual or group of individuals will likely usurp all those powers, setting us on the road to tyranny. America’s early Constitutional conflicts centered on the question of how much power should be placed in the hands of the national government vis-à-vis the states’ governments. But whether Federalists or Anti-Federalists, Hamiltonians or Jeffersonians, all of the principal founders aimed at securing the natural rights of Americans by the means of well-designed constitutional forms.
The American Mind with Charles R. Kesler: Presented by The Claremont Institute. Originally published on Jan 30, 2014 in the third segment with University of Nevada Reno Professor John Marini, Marini and Kesler discuss President Nixon and his losing battle with Washington bureaucracies. Used with permission.
PRESIDENT NIXON VS. THE ADMINISTRATIVE STATE. An Interview with John Marini
John: You have to begin to see what Nixon’s plan was after the election, and there you get a better sense of his view that this is the last time that we’re going to be able to take on the centralized bureaucratic apparatus and be able to hold it back.
Charles: John, if Richard Nixon were a character in a western, who would he be? Simon Legree?
JFK, Catholicism, and the 1960 Election
The American Founding ushered in a “new order for the ages” that included the unprecedented and remarkable natural right of liberty of conscience. The First Amendment protected this universal right of all humans and banned Congress from establishing an official religion. The Constitution also banned all religious tests for national office.
Communism and Civil Liberties: The Election of 1952
The election of 1952 brought about the first GOP presidential victory in more than 20 years. It came about at a time while many in America were weary from World War II, and they were very apprehensive about the potential for subversion by the Soviet Union and its radical Marxist ideology.
Global War and Peace: The 1944 Election
In his 1944 State of the Union address, President Franklin D. Roosevelt offered a “Second Bill of Rights” that redefined the rights of the founding bill of rights. This radical pronouncement promised economic security and “positive rights” guaranteed by the federal government.
In 1932, the U.S. economy reached its nadir during the Great Depression. Unemployment had risen to more than 20 percent, or 11 million Americans, matched by a similar number of the underemployed as factories and businesses closed their doors. Banks were closing at an alarming rates as people instantly lost their life savings. Hundreds of thousands of farmers and urban dwellers alike were suffering forecloses and lost their homes. Breadlines were long and strained the resources of private charities and local governments.