Commentary

A Republic, if you can keep it

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It is time to rein in the taxaholic phalanx of lawmakers in Augusta who believe there is no problem too big or small that government cannot solve. Progressives of all political stripes must stop beggaring Maine people, or we will lose job creators and force our young people to seek freedom and success elsewhere.

“We have a system that increasingly taxes work and subsidizes nonwork.” (Milton Friedman, Nobel Prize-winning economist)

The State of Maine is morphing from its constitutionally mandated republican form of government (U.S. Constitution, Article IV, Section 4) into a social democracy. James Madison described democracy as follows:

“Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives, as they have been violent in their deaths.” (Emphasis mine)

Progressives subscribe to equality of outcome (egalitarianism) and social theories (community needs over individual needs). Rewriting history to fit current social narratives is necessary for them to achieve political, economical, educational, legal and cultural dominance. Our Republic (we are not a pure democracy) and its written constitution stand in the way of progressive theory.

In Maine, our political, educational and legal systems lean toward the theory that our constitution needs to be “living” in the tradition of President Woodrow Wilson, who once wrote:

“The Constitution was founded on the law of gravitation. The government was to exist and move by virtue of the efficacy of ‘checks and balances.’ The trouble with the theory is that government is not a machine, but a living thing…It is modified by its environment, necessitated by its tasks, shaped to its functions by the sheer pressure of life.” (edited for brevity, not content).

It was necessary for progressives to abandon the written Constitution in favor of the “living” constitution to get around the amendment process (U.S. Constitution, Article V) for changing the role of government and the basis of law. In turn, we have been slowly but surely replacing our Republic with a welfare democracy over the last half century.

Progressives introduced the Wilsonian “living” constitution theory into law schools where it metastasized into social justice activism. This led to appointment of justices on the Supreme Court and judges in many of the lesser courts who subscribed to the “living” constitution theory. The floodgates of judicial activism were released, shifting the balance of power from the legislature and the executive to the judiciary. The judiciary began to make law, instead of assessing their constitutionality, usurping the legislature’s exclusive power to make laws.  

Using the flawed, unconstitutional theory of a “living” constitution, the Court’s progressives found “emanations” and “penumbras” in the Founder’s language that allowed the Court to redirect society toward a property-less, freedom-restricted, government-dominated welfare society with politically correct social justice controlling our life, liberty and happiness. The judiciary became the gateway drug for the left’s addiction to welfare and the central control necessary for the perceived progressive majority to take away the property of the Constitutional minority. The 51 percent abusing the 49 percent. Look no further than efforts to abolish the Electoral College as an example.

“The history of the welfare state is the history of public enterprise pushing out private organization…Higher taxes left individuals with less money to give…providing welfare shriveled the perceived duty of individuals to respond to their neighbors’ needs; and the availability of public programs gave recipients an alternative to private assistance, one which did not challenge recipients to reform their destructive behavior.” (Doug Bandow, senior fellow at the Cato Institute).  

Government has taken away many of the functions of the family: infusing our children with education, morals, civility, family history, love, charity, right and wrong, the benefits of helping others and respecting others’ rights while exercising our own.

There is a reason that government is lousy at providing for the needs of the people; government cannot allow competing methods for solving problems. This is the natural consequence of government’s inability to create anything other than impediments to the people’s ingenuity, productivity, accomplishment and liberty.

In the words of President Ronald Reagan, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” If we are to maintain our Republic, we must return to upholding the written constitution and pursue policies that promote self-sufficiency.

About John MacGregor

John "Jock" MacGregor is a student of history and politics, a pursuit he has enjoyed for most of his 77 years. Jock attended Villanova University’s School of Education; served in the U.S. Marine Corps; and is an entrepreneur with enterprises in restaurants, construction and boatbuilding. Mr. MacGregor was managing editor of an online news site in Hot Springs Arkansas. Currently, Jock comments on the role of government in society. Jock believes in a constitutionally limited government, instituted by the people, to protect their rights to life, liberty and property.

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