April 18, 2012

65% of like voters agree with the adage: "A government powerful enough to do everything you want is also powerful enough to take away everything you have."

A new Rasmussen poll. (Only 23% disagree.)
Just 10% of all voters believe the government should be allowed to do anything that a majority of voters want. Seventy-nine percent (79%) say there should be legal limits on government to protect the natural and civil rights of individuals. Ten percent (10%) more are not sure.

Ninety-two percent (92%) agree that it is important for there to be strict limits on government so that it cannot take away individual rights and freedom, and that includes 72% who think it’s Very Important. 
I find it bizarre that there are any Americans of the "likely voter" persuasion who think the majority should always prevail over the individual. Maybe they didn't understand the question. Maybe they think that the majority in America is such that it would never agree to anything seriously violative of anything that ought to be conceived of as an individual right.  

The poll also asked "Which is more important: ensuring that leaders are selected by voters or insuring that there are strict limits on government so that it cannot take away individual rights and freedom?" 54% chose rights. Only 37% chose democracy first.

Do you think Rasmussen is doing this poll now in an effort to embolden the Supreme Court as it considers the health-care law... or, more modestly, that it's prepping the public to embrace a decision striking down the law? I note the absence of a question about whether the federal government has only limited, enumerated powers, which would be the basis for striking down the law. That case is not about individual rights. But speaking of unasked poll questions, I'd like to see a poll that asked whether the requirement that everyone buy comprehensive health insurance is more of a problem because it may exceed Congress's enumerated powers or because it may infringe on individual rights.

Even though this poll didn't ask the legally relevant question, the linked article reporting the poll ends with a reference to an earlier poll that said 69% think Congress lacks the power to require everyone to buy health insurance and 54% expect Supreme Court to strike down that requirement.

By the way, Rasmussen divides its "likely voters" into 2 categories: "Political Class" and "Mainstream." On the question whether democracy or rights were more important, there was a radical divergence, with 85% of the Political Class putting democracy first and 62% of Mainstream folks putting rights first. Now, what's really fascinating is to think about that divergence in connection with the questions they use to figure out whether to put the various poll respondents into the Mainstream or the Political Class category:
-- Generally speaking, when it comes to important national issues, whose judgment do you trust more - the American people or America’s political leaders?

-- Some people believe that the federal government has become a special interest group that looks out primarily for its own interests. Has the federal government become a special interest group?

-- Do government and big business often work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors?
That is, you are categorized as "Political Class" if you don't trust the people and you do trust the government. Why are these the people who think "ensuring that leaders are selected by voters" is more important than "insuring that there are strict limits on government so that it cannot take away individual rights and freedom"? It would seem that these people — whoever they are! — are not really big enthusiasts about democracy. It's more that they are against "strict limits on government" — which was the phrase in the question asking for a preference for democracy or rights. To pick rights, you had to warm up to the concept of "strict limits on government so that it cannot take away individual rights and freedom."

Strict is a strong word, and it can rub you either way when you hear the pollster ask the question. It will jump out, but which way will it jump out? The populist "Mainstream" people may, perhaps, pull up the notion of staunchly defended rights against a potentially oppressive government. The "Political Class" person, by contrast, pictures government hampered by overstated, inflated ideas about supposed rights.

What pops into your head when you hear the phrase "strict limits on government so that it cannot take away individual rights and freedom"?


  
pollcode.com free polls 

And please don't complain about the way I've phrased the poll. I'm not trying to be a professional-style pollster! Just pick the answer that's closer to how you feel. If you want to expatiate about the actual images that rolled through your head, tell us all about it in the comments.

126 comments:

cubanbob said...

Lynch mobs are composed 'of the people'. I prefer to put my trust in the constitution.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Isn't that a quote from that right wing Nazi Gerald Ford?

Scott M said...

Isn't that a quote from that right wing Nazi Gerald Ford?

No, no. I believe that was Chevy Chase.

davis,br said...

@ann "I find it bizarre that there are any Americans of the "likely voter" persuasion who think the majority should always prevail over the individual. Maybe they didn't understand the question."

And I guess I find it bizarre that you think that even among the "likely voter" persuasion there aren't the committed communists and simply plain, outright, lesser intellects.

...so of course some of 'em didn't understand the question.

And some of 'em understood the question all too well.

I do applaud you though, for having been able to maintain your faith in the American voter.

I can tell by that faith though, that you were never a California resident.

Hoosier Daddy said...

"... No, no. I believe that was Chevy Chase..."

Kinda showing your age there ;-)

I loved the skit where he keeps falling in the Oval Office.

SGT Ted said...

Governing by popular vote is rule by the mob.

Thats why we are supposed to be a Republic that restrains Government from encroaching on individual liberties.

mariner said...

I was the 105th person to answer the poll, and so far ALL 105 respondents have given the same answer.

Synova said...

The first thing that pops into my head is... "Constitution! DUH!"

"I find it bizarre that there are any Americans of the "likely voter" persuasion who think the majority should always prevail over the individual."

I don't.

That was Obama's justification for supporting Zelaya trashing the Honduran Constitution, after all. It was the "will of the people." Never mind that there was copious evidence that he had set up complete fraud for the elections or that the Honduran Constitution had term limits of *one* term for President. The only thing that mattered was that people ought to vote and to get their way. "Will of the people."

And when that happened, it wasn't only Obama who thought that *obviously* the majority should prevail. His supporters thought so too.

That's just one example of a *prevalent* attitude about "majority rule."

It's just US you know, we odd conservative/libertarians who go on and on and on about the Constitution (how droll) or that the USA is a Republic (which seems sort of fascist, no?). It was what I was taught in Civics 30 years ago, after all, and I'm hardly alone. Teaching "Republic" or "Constitution" or "Electoral College" is HARD, like Barbie-Math hard! Oh, Em, Gee.

Try homeschooling in the 90's and you heard it all the time... if you don't like it, vote the school board out and change things by majority rule. And if the majority is something you don't like, than tough cookies and hand over your children.

That no one want *me* to be the boss of *them* if I manage to get my way, just doesn't sink in.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Quick question if anyone knows the answer. I thought I read that the justices voted right after oral arguments. Therefore the decision to hold up or not Obamacare has already been made. If so, how can any poll (or presidential hissyfit) effect the outcome?

Synova said...

*then* tough cookies

Bleh!

Joe said...

I find it disheartening that 23% disagreed with the truthiness of your headline.

Pettifogger said...

When I answered, 99% were more concerned about overreaching government than they were about overreaching rights claimants. That says a lot about your readership.

lemondog said...

Thats why we are supposed to be a Republic that restrains Government from encroaching on individual liberties.

Unlike the American press Canada noticed this:
Obama Executive Order: Peacetime Martial Law!

Trivial matter?

Original Mike said...

"54% expect Supreme Court to strike down [the individual mandate]."

54% have more faith in the Supreme Court than I do.

Freeman Hunt said...

On the question whether democracy or rights were more important, there was a radical divergence, with 85% of the Political Class putting democracy first and 62% of Mainstream folks putting rights first.

How foolish this "Political Class!"

MrCharlie2 said...

I am heartened by the idea that only 10% think the government should have no fixed limits. 10% true sheep, I would have thought more.h

Zeb Quinn said...

It would seem that these people — whoever they are! — are not really big enthusiasts about democracy. It's more that they are against "strict limits on government"

Think your average public employee union thug. That'll tell you who they are, or at least some of them.

Besides all that, and to your first question, Rasmussen does seem to have more of an agenda these days.

Partridge said...

Which is more important: ensuring that leaders are selected by voters or insuring that there are strict limits on government so that it cannot take away individual rights and freedom?

But this is obviously a false dichotomy. Leaders being selected by voters is the single most effective limit on government. If the voters don't choose to enforce their own rights and freedoms, who else is going to? A committee?

Christopher in MA said...

I don't trust the people and I don't trust the government.

Neither do I find it particularly bizarre that people might prefer the rights of the majority over the individual. The herd instinct is very strong.

Look at Hat, for example. He believes that as we older breeders die off, our children and grandchildren will be more accepting of his ilk. Then, on that halcyon day, bigoted religious institutions can be told to STFU and take their medicine. Right now, he's standing up for his "rights" as an individual, but were he and his cohorts (sexually and sympathetically) to become the majority, he will be happy to crush the rights of the individual.

We're all for individual rights as long as we're all the same kind of individual.

Q said...

I find it bizarre that there are any Americans of the "likely voter" persuasion who think the majority should always prevail over the individual. Maybe they didn't understand the question. Maybe they think that the majority in America is such that it would never agree to anything seriously violative of anything that ought to be conceived of as an individual right.


The US Constitution specifically provides for "the majority" to override "the individual". If the majority it sufficiently large, the constitution says that the majority should "always prevail over the individual".

Q said...

I am heartened by the idea that only 10% think the government should have no fixed limits.


You must be discouraged that the Founders were among the 10%.

Q said...

Lynch mobs are composed 'of the people'. I prefer to put my trust in the constitution.


The constitution came from "the people". You think God handed it down to the Founders on stone tablets?

Paul said...

"The US Constitution specifically provides for "the majority" to override "the individual". If the majority it sufficiently large, the constitution says that the majority should "always prevail over the individual".'

Yes and the founding documents set strict limits on the majority not trampling on the individual rights enshrined therein.

I guess you missed that part.

Ann Althouse said...

"Quick question if anyone knows the answer. I thought I read that the justices voted right after oral arguments. Therefore the decision to hold up or not Obamacare has already been made. If so, how can any poll (or presidential hissyfit) effect the outcome?"

It's not like that was election day and the votes are locked in. A dissent can grow into a majority opinion and so forth. But votes are taken and opinions are assigned. It can drag on and go back and forth.

cubanbob said...

Q said...
I find it bizarre that there are any Americans of the "likely voter" persuasion who think the majority should always prevail over the individual. Maybe they didn't understand the question. Maybe they think that the majority in America is such that it would never agree to anything seriously violative of anything that ought to be conceived of as an individual right.


The US Constitution specifically provides for "the majority" to override "the individual". If the majority it sufficiently large, the constitution says that the majority should "always prevail over the individual".

4/18/12 12:13 PM
Q said...
I am heartened by the idea that only 10% think the government should have no fixed limits.


You must be discouraged that the Founders were among the 10%.

4/18/12 12:15 PM

Amazing the things one learns on this blog. Who knew the founders who crafted a charter of enumerated powers and negative rights believed such things. Simply amazing.

Next thing you know the bien pensant will convince the masses that the government should get to chose the electorate.

Q said...

What pops into your head when you hear the phrase "strict limits on government so that it cannot take away individual rights and freedom"?


Roe v Wade.

Which illustrates that the real issue here, and always in politics, is who gets to decide exactly what those individual rights and freedoms are.

cubanbob said...

Q said...
Lynch mobs are composed 'of the people'. I prefer to put my trust in the constitution.


The constitution came from "the people". You think God handed it down to the Founders on stone tablets?

4/18/12 12:18 PM

So I gather you are in favor of a mobocracy until the results don't favor you.

Ann Althouse said...

Consider, for example, Citizens United. There was oral argument, and then some time later the Court required a second argument, with the issue reframed.

Q said...

Who knew the founders who crafted a charter of enumerated powers and negative rights believed such things.


The Founders created a constitution with the explicit understanding that it could and would be altered by "the people" or "the majority" at their discretion.

It was not and is not a secular version of the Ten Commandments, which is what confused persons such as yourself seem to have in mind.

Ann Althouse said...

"Roe v Wade. Which illustrates that the real issue here, and always in politics, is who gets to decide exactly what those individual rights and freedoms are."

Right. I mean, imagine if the question had included a prompt about Roe v. Wade: "strict limits on government so that it cannot, for example, criminalize abortion if that is what the majority wants."

cubanbob said...

Q said...
What pops into your head when you hear the phrase "strict limits on government so that it cannot take away individual rights and freedom"?


Roe v Wade.

Which illustrates that the real issue here, and always in politics, is who gets to decide exactly what those individual rights and freedoms are.

4/18/12 12:24 PM

Accept that when it comes to abortions there are two other parties that may not be in agreement with that individual's choice. A charter of negative rights pretty much answers your own question.

Q said...

So I gather you are in favor of a mobocracy until the results don't favor you


That is an irrational and incoherent response to the point that the constitution originated with the much maligned "people".

I am in favor of the system crafted by the Founders, or what you think of as a "mobocracy". Regardless of whether the people do as I think they should.

The notion that the people are a mob who need to be constrained by a strong hand is one which George V would have endorsed, but not George Washington.

Q said...

Accept that when it comes to abortions there are two other parties that may not be in agreement with that individual's choice. A charter of negative rights pretty much answers your own question.


You seem to be having difficulty with reading comprehension.

The point of Roe v Wade is that when it comes to individual rights and freedoms, what matters is who gets to decide what those are.

Your proposed "charter of negative rights" is just you saying "I should get to decide what those are".

cubanbob said...

Q said...
Who knew the founders who crafted a charter of enumerated powers and negative rights believed such things.


The Founders created a constitution with the explicit understanding that it could and would be altered by "the people" or "the majority" at their discretion.

It was not and is not a secular version of the Ten Commandments, which is what confused persons such as yourself seem to have in mind.

4/18/12 12:28 PM

Considering how few amendments have been made in the last 200 years and none them other than term limits for the presidency and banning the use of alcohol (rescinded) and the amendments that did pass extend individual liberties, the only one confused here is you. Notice that none of the amendments are a grant of specific positive rights.
Carry one and keep digging.

Rusty said...

Q said...
I am heartened by the idea that only 10% think the government should have no fixed limits.


You must be discouraged that the Founders were among the 10%.



Fortunately for us that they included the first 10 amendments.
Those bastards!

Q said...

Right. I mean, imagine if the question had included a prompt about Roe v. Wade: "strict limits on government so that it cannot, for example, criminalize abortion if that is what the majority wants."


Or you could cut right to the heart of the matter and ask people who they think should get to define their "individual rights and freedoms".

Just about everybody is going to agree in the abstract with the notion that they have "rights and freedoms" which government ought not to impinge on. The devil is in the details. It's not too difficult to imagine a Supreme Court made up of Obama appointees deciding that not only does the US Constitution permit national healthcare, it requires it. Or in their possible language, that all Americans have the "right" to free health-care.

I live in the great state of New Jersey, where our Supreme Court has been making up the law in a similar fashion for decades. You can make a pretty totalitarian system out of talk about "rights". It's just as useful as "equality" in that respect.

Alex said...

Yeah people are really against government except when they need policing, fire protection and potholes fixed. Geez you anarcho-cons are really something else. Go live in your fucking Galt's gulch or something.

cubanbob said...

Q said...
Accept that when it comes to abortions there are two other parties that may not be in agreement with that individual's choice. A charter of negative rights pretty much answers your own question.


You seem to be having difficulty with reading comprehension.

The point of Roe v Wade is that when it comes to individual rights and freedoms, what matters is who gets to decide what those are.

Your proposed "charter of negative rights" is just you saying "I should get to decide what those are".

4/18/12 12:36 PM

The one with a reading comprehension is you. You seem to conflate an enumerated power with an inherit power. In so far as abortion is concerned, you missed the fact that there are two directly affected parties, the fetus which isn't consulted about whether or not he or she agrees to being killed and the father.The fetus has an inherit right not to be killed simply because the mother can arrange to have it done. And the father may beg to differ if he wants his child killed.

There is a reason why the founders made amending the constitution rather difficult, it is to cool the passions of the mob.

I'm sure you will have no problem if after the next election the 'mob' decides to make abortion a capital crime and abolishes all 'entitlement' programs. It would be the 'people's choice'.

Q said...

Fortunately for us that they included the first 10 amendments


Which they did democratically. Evil mob rule! Are you really going to support those amendments knowing that the majority enacted them against the wishes of the minority?

Oh, the humanity!

Hagar said...

In the old country, we were taught tha a democracy is a place where the will of the majority rules - with due ragrd for the rights of the minority.

I have found that the qualifying clauses tend to be stripped off when these adages are quoted in the U.S.

Hagar said...

... regard ...

Chip S. said...

Only 4 delusional votes cast out of 434.

Althouse readers >>> House of Representatives.

Q said...

I'm sure you will have no problem if after the next election the 'mob' decides to make abortion a capital crime and abolishes all 'entitlement' programs. It would be the 'people's choice'.



At the end of the day, everything is the people's choice. This is why the Founders placed such emphasis on the character and virtue of the people - because the American polity would be good as long as the people were good, and bad if they were bad.

I will be fine with whatever "the mob" decides (in the incredibly unlikely event that they are ever allowed a say) because that is what the America experiment is all about - self rule. I'll take the good and the bad which flows from that, because that is the process which we are supposed to employ.

Scott M said...

Althouse readers

I prefer "commentator in an unscripted drama".

cubanbob said...

Alex said...
Yeah people are really against government except when they need policing, fire protection and potholes fixed. Geez you anarcho-cons are really something else. Go live in your fucking Galt's gulch or something.

4/18/12 12:50 PM

Alex the states created the federal government, not the other way around. It was the states through their delegates who crafted a charter of enumerated powers and inherit rights that applied to the federal government and said states through their legislatures ratified the constitution.

Policing, pot hole repairs, schools and fire protection are the responsibilities of state and local government. Next time you call 911 or complain about a pot hole, it ain't the feds who are going to respond. No John Galt's gulch here.

Alex said...

bah bah Rush Limpballs bah bah you sheep-cons are really something else. Go buy a brain already!

Scott M said...

bah bah Rush Limpballs bah bah you sheep-cons are really something else. Go buy a brain already!

Erudite as always. cubanbob's point was exactly on target, though you chose to ignore it.

Chip S. said...

Q said...
I will be fine with whatever "the mob" decides (in the incredibly unlikely event that they are ever allowed a say)

I hereby move that Q's assets be seized and redistributed among the rest of the commenters in this thread.

Is there a second?

cubanbob said...

Q said
I will be fine with whatever "the mob" decides (in the incredibly unlikely event that they are ever allowed a say) because that is what the America experiment is all about - self rule. I'll take the good and the bad which flows from that, because that is the process which we are supposed to employ.

4/18/12 12:58 PM

No doubt including one man/woman one vote one time. And all of your property is mine. Or lets sterilize the retarded because three generations of imbeciles is enough. Because you believe in the process.

I know its a stretch for you to understand but the founders being wiser beings than most today understood human nature and designed a system to try to limit the excesses and preserve the inherit liberties of the individuals. They understood the meaning of rule by law versus enfettered mobocracy.
Apparently in your fetish for 'pure' democracy that seems to escape you.

cubanbob said...

Q said
I will be fine with whatever "the mob" decides (in the incredibly unlikely event that they are ever allowed a say) because that is what the America experiment is all about - self rule. I'll take the good and the bad which flows from that, because that is the process which we are supposed to employ.

4/18/12 12:58 PM

No doubt including one man/woman one vote one time. And all of your property is mine. Or lets sterilize the retarded because three generations of imbeciles is enough. Because you believe in the process.

I know its a stretch for you to understand but the founders being wiser beings than most today understood human nature and designed a system to try to limit the excesses and preserve the inherit liberties of the individuals. They understood the meaning of rule by law versus enfettered mobocracy.
Apparently in your fetish for 'pure' democracy that seems to escape you. But not the overwhelming majority of the American people who also happen to be the electorate.

cubanbob said...

Alex said...
bah bah Rush Limpballs bah bah you sheep-cons are really something else. Go buy a brain already!

4/18/12 12:59 PM

Alex chill, you are a nice guy, one of the good guys here. Being for a smaller and more limited government isn't being for no government.

Lefties tend to think that because a little something is good, a lot more of it is inherently better. Not all things scale well. Two aspirins will cure a headache, swallowing two hundred will kill you. The dose makes the poison and the dose makes the drug. Scalability my friend, scalability. Too bad I don't have Limbaugh's ability to blather on the radio, it would be nice to make an eight figure annual income , even under the Buffer Rules. Oh well, life isn't always fair.

RonF said...

People who don't have much think it's the government's job to take things away from people and give it to them. They figure they don't have that much to begin with, so they have little risk.

I can't find the link, but a few years ago a Chicago Alderman stood up on the City Council floor and said just that - that it is the job of government to redistribute income.

RonF said...

Q said:

The US Constitution specifically provides for "the majority" to override "the individual". If the majority it sufficiently large, the constitution says that the majority should "always prevail over the individual"

The key phrase being "sufficiently large". Some things can be decided by bare majorities. Some things need a 2/3 majority. And changing our key rights needs a 2/3 majority in both houses and majorities of various sizes in 3/4 of the State legislatures. When you say "the majority" in a survey question, though, most people will see that as 50% + 1 and will agree or disagree with the question on that basis.

Q said...

There is a reason why the founders made amending the constitution rather difficult, it is to cool the passions of the mob.


If you can find anywhere in the writings of the American Founders where they spoke of "the mob" or "the passions of the mob" then go ahead and start citing.

You are citing European aristocrats, reactionaries and monarchists here and not the republican American founders.


In so far as abortion is concerned, you missed the fact that there are two directly affected parties, the fetus which isn't consulted about whether or not he or she agrees to being killed and the father.


That is not a "fact", that is simply one possible way of looking at things.



The fetus has an inherit right not to be killed simply because the mother can arrange to have it done.


You mean "inherent right", I assume. The word "inherent" changes nothing. A fetus has no "inherent right" in the US because the Supreme Court said so. That gets us back to the problem I pointed out to you - who decides what "inherent rights" exist?

You're not the most cogent writer I've ever come across, but as I understand it you desire both a certain specific process and a certain specific outcome from that process.

The process you favor is one where all decisions about "rights" are made by a council of elders, a handful of select wise man, and not by "the mob".

The outcome you seek is one where that select group of "rights" definers states that the fetus has an inherent right to life.

In practice the Supreme Court ends up filling the "process" role, although that role is a million light years away from the one envisaged for them in the Federalist Papers.

You are a "throne and altar conservative" in the European mold, probably a Catholic. In the original throne-and-altar model the council of elders would be a synod of bishops. That sort of conservatism is a poor fit for America though.

Here we still believe in virtue, but our take on it is much more democratic, much more protestant. It exists in the people at large, and flows upwards from them to the government which they institute. Thee is no room in this understanding of virtue for the people-as-a-loathsome-mob.

SGT Ted said...

Or you could cut right to the heart of the matter and ask people who they think should get to define their "individual rights and freedoms".

Mommy or the baby? If its going to be a human coming out of there in 9 months or sometimes fewer, how is it not human before then and why doesn't it have any rights?

Saint Croix said...

The basis of our Constitution is popular soveriegnty. We the People. The way you determine what the people want is by majority rule.

Our Constitution is popular. It does not constrain our people at all. It constrains the government. It constrains Congress, it constrains the President, it constrains the Supreme Court, and it constrains the states.

You show me where it constrains the "mob." It does not. It says nothing about regulating our people.

The government regulates our people, all the time. Our Constitution specifically limits what our government can do. Including our Supreme Court.

The baby-killing opinion known as Roe v. Wade is a clear and obvious violation of the judicial oath of office. Proof here.

People who violate their oath of office and act like dictators should be fired, shit-canned, out of office. They cannot be trusted with power.

This is particularly true in the case of the Supreme Court, who are not ratified by our people and have faced no vote by our people.

Our Constitution is specifically amended, over and over, to give our people more voting rights, not less.

We should amend the Constitution to have a retention election of Supreme Court Justices. To remove philosopher kings and other baby-killing assholes.

"Educate and inform the whole mass of our people. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty."

Q said...

The key phrase being "sufficiently large". Some things can be decided by bare majorities. Some things need a 2/3 majority.


That's a trivial distinction. In both cases the majority prevails. Contrast that to modern American "constitutional law", so-called, in which the majority is presumptively wrong.

Saint Croix said...

Dr. Frankenstein, with all his Ivy League credentials, was an insane fucker who thought he could play god.

And the mob with the pitchforks? They were right.

If you are worried about the mob outside your doors, Supreme Court, you might start by respecting our right to vote. Fuckwits.

Saint Croix said...

Contrast that to modern American "constitutional law", so-called, in which the majority is presumptively wrong.

Q, you have to read Akhil Amar, he's provocative and brilliant.

Also neat books here and here.

Q said...

No doubt including one man/woman one vote one time. And all of your property is mine. Or lets sterilize the retarded because three generations of imbeciles is enough. Because you believe in the process


If the people decide to institute a dictatorship to enslave themselves, then they have that right. People have the right to do ill as well as to do good, the right be be stupid as well as the right to be wise. Take away those rights from them, which is what you want to do, and you reduce them to helpless children.

You want to create a process from which no bad outcomes can emerge. But it is not possible to do that, and the desire to do it can itself lead to various bad outcomes.

Chip S. said...

I find it strange that a proponent of unlimited power to a transient majority such as Q would find inspiration in the Federalist Papers.

In No. 84, Hamilton argued that the rights of individuals against the potential range of actions of the federal government (and, by implication, a majority of the Congress) were presumptive:

For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why for instance, should it be said, that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed? I will not contend that such a provision would confer a regulating power; but it is evident that it would furnish, to men disposed to usurp, a plausible pretense for claiming that power.

The concerns about "usurpation" Hamilton felt obliged to address were indeed concerns about a tyranny of the majority.

Methadras said...

Just 10% of all voters believe the government should be allowed to do anything that a majority of voters want.

Oddly enough, this is the same amount of people that Urkel claims are uninsured and yet has to hobble the other 90% to make sure they are.

Q said...

In No. 84, Hamilton argued that the rights of individuals against the potential range of actions of the federal government (and, by implication, a majority of the Congress) were presumptive:

For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why for instance, should it be said, that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed? I will not contend that such a provision would confer a regulating power; but it is evident that it would furnish, to men disposed to usurp, a plausible pretense for claiming that power.



I must point out that Hamilton says not one word about the "rights of individuals" in that passage.

The entire concept of the "rights of individuals" which is so central to modern American thought is notably absent from the writings of the Founders.

The passage in question refers to the "enumerated powers" doctrine, the belief that that the (federal) government will only be able to do that which it is explicitly authorized to do by the proposed Constitution. This was written in response to objections by the Anti-Federalists that the new federal government might, for instance, shut down the press.

This passage by Hamilton was in any case ignored, which is why the first ten amendments were passed.

None of this has anything to do with the "rights of individuals".

Saint Croix said...

If the people decide to institute a dictatorship to enslave themselves, then they have that right.

If popular sovereignty is an absolute right, then by pure logic you cannot institute a dictatorship, because that denies future majorities their right to vote.

Similarly, if popular sovereignty is an absolute right, then you could argue that the 1st and 2nd amendments are absolute rights, too, as they are necessary to protect popular sovereignty.

Q said...

If popular sovereignty is an absolute right, then by pure logic you cannot institute a dictatorship, because that denies future majorities their right to vote.


Future majorities will always have the right to vote with their arms, regardless of what came before. That's why America exists, after all, not because of a plebiscite.

Matt said...

Why do so many Conservatives freak out about government control yet have no trouble supporting the Patriot Act?

It's odd but government lending a hand to the poorest among us is considered invasive and over-reaching their authority but government tightening security, adding more surveillance and spying on us - which you would think would be bad - is considered just fine.

It seems to me if we are worried about our government getting too big and we want to make a slipper slope argument then it begins with skepticism of the Patriot Act. I didn't want Bush spying on me. Do you want Obama spying on you?

Saint Croix said...

I find it strange that a proponent of unlimited power to a transient majority such as Q would find inspiration in the Federalist Papers.

I think Hamilton kind of sucks, myself. Put me in the Madison-Jefferson camp.

The entire concept of the "rights of individuals" which is so central to modern American thought is notably absent from the writings of the Founders.

Dude, the Framers talked about natural rights all the time. The Constitution was held up until promises were extracted that a bill of rights would be added.

Saint Croix said...

For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why for instance, should it be said, that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed? I will not contend that such a provision would confer a regulating power; but it is evident that it would furnish, to men disposed to usurp, a plausible pretense for claiming that power.

Why cite a losing argument, anyway? It's like citing Michael Dukakia or Walter Mondale.

Hamilton is arguing there's no need for a free speech clause. This is a) stupid and b) stomped down by people who are way smarter than Hamilton.

Anybody think Hamilton was right on this point? Anyone? Bueller?

Chip S. said...

And Q manages to miss Hamilton's entire point, which was that there is no need to specify the precise limitations on the federal government because that which is not expressly allowed is prohibited. So, you see, enumerating specific rights of individuals would have entirely undermined his point.

Clearly, he was wrong in his assessment of the ability of people to grasp that point. In Q's world, a majority is free to enslave a minority.

There have been such societies, but so far the U.S. is not one of them. No thanks to the likes of Q for that, though.

AJ Lynch said...

I was wondering how the librul commentariat could even respond to this post and I see, so far, only one librul commenter, Matt, has made a comment.

edutcher said...

Hey, I'm part of the 99% who went with #1 (we can imagine the 1%).

And the people that Ann thought "bizarre that there are any Americans of the 'likely voter' persuasion who think the majority should always prevail over the individual" are called Yellow Dog Democrats.

Saint Croix said...

Alexander "The Bastard" Hamilton, the Bill Clinton of the 18th century.

From wikipedia...

An admirer of British political systems, Hamilton was a nationalist who emphasized strong central government, and successfully argued that the implied powers of the Constitution could be used to fund the national debt, assume state debts, and create the government-owned Bank of the United States.

You hear that? In the Federalist he says there is no implied powers at all. And then, when he's in power, wow, he finds some!

Asshole.

Embarrassed when an extra-marital affair with Maria Reynolds became public, Hamilton resigned from office in 1795 and returned to the practice of law in New York.

Well, at least he wasn't disbarred, unlike some people. The Bill Clinton of the 18th Century might be a little harsh.

But why the fuck is Hamilton on our money? And what's up with dissing James Madison?

(Except in Wisconsin, they love Madison in Wisconsin).

Saint Croix said...

more from wikipedia about Hamilton...

Early in the Convention he made a speech proposing a President-for-Life;

What the fuck!

Excuse me while I go burn a ten dollar bill.

Kirk Parker said...

Q, you might start with Federalist No 10.

Matt,

Why do you assume I support the Patriot Act? (Heck, why do you assume I'm a "Conservative" rather than a Classical Liberal?)

Revenant said...

So... 23% of Americans are morons?

Sounds about right.

Chip S. said...

Q said...
This passage by Hamilton was in any case ignored, which is why the first ten amendments were passed.

None of this has anything to do with the "rights of individuals".


Let's see...what was in those first 10 amendments again?

1. Congress shall make no law respecting ...abridging the freedom of speech...or the right of the people peaceably to assemble...

2. the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

4. to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated...

5. nor shall any person ... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law

9. The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

I can't believe it's become necessary to post elementary stuff like this here.

Chip S. said...

Saint Croix,

Once you're done working out your problems with Hamilton, you can start dealing with the fact that he was one of the authors of the Federalist Papers, so that any discussion of them is going to involve quoting him at some point.

Then maybe you can give it a rest.

edutcher said...

More or less OT:

I've always been intrigued by a line form Jeff Cooper, "Pick up a rifle and you change instantly from a subject to a citizen".

That pretty much describes our forebears and a lot of the rationale behind the Bill of Rights. And why the Lefties want to disarm us.

Lem said...

If you want to expatiate about the actual images that rolled through your head, tell us all about it in the comments.

I don't want to do that right now..

lemondog said...

Hey! I like Hamilton

"You forgot the sprinkles"

ricpic said...

The problem is all the decent people who genuinely believe that the purpose of government is "To do good." From that radical misunderstanding flows all our troubles.

Rusty said...

The entire concept of the "rights of individuals" which is so central to modern American thought is notably absent from the writings of the Founders.



Um. No.

Otherwise there would be no 1st
2nd , 4th, 5th, 6th 7th 8th

Thank you Mr. Mason and Mr. Madison.

CWJ said...

@Matt@2:10

I'm not a particular fan of the Patriot act, but to answer your first question, it seems that the act has not yet been abused to the point that innocent people have been caught up in it (with the obvious exception of the TSA). Given the press antagonism toward the Bush administration, I have no doubt we would have been inundated with stories of spying upon the innocent if such had been the case.

As to helping the poor, I don't see your point. Regardless of the relative merits of the Patriot Act, national security IS a responsibility of the federal government. Income redistribution is not. So IMO it IS governmental overreach in spite of it being a worthy thing to do.

Matt said...

Kirk Parker

Why do you assume I support the Patriot Act? (Heck, why do you assume I'm a "Conservative"

I don't assume anything about you in particular. But when it comes to support for the Patriot act for the most part Conservatives are for it while Liberals are against it.

Although the reason is mainly because it became law under Bush. Once Obama came along Liberals stopped complaining about the Patriot Act and Conservatives started wondering if maybe it should end.

Politics.

Matt said...

CWJ
It's not government overreach to help the poorest. It is exactly what civilized countries do. Uncivilized countries toss people like that into the slums, ignore them and tell them it is their fault they are poor or sick or uneducated.

Would you say The GI Bill was overreach? It helped build the middle class. THAT is the goal; to build a middle class. Do you think a middle class can ONLY be built by capitalism and corporations? No freakin’ way.

When the government steps on my freedoms, which the Patriot Act comes mighty close to - then that is overreach. But it depends on how we define freedom. For conservatives freedom often means the freedom to make a lot of money, which is why they don't like taxes. Liberals understand the potential of what taxes can [and do] do. Actually, conservatives do too but they need an issue to rally around so they go after entitlements even though they benefit from them as much as liberals. Politics.

CWJ said...

Wow calm down Matt. I didn't defend the Patriot Act and tried to answer your original question. I also said that helping the poor was "a worthy thing to do". But I guess it was hard to read what I wrote from your perch atop your high horse.

Matt said...

CWJ said...

Wow calm down

LOL, I'm not shouting. Imagine I said all that in a conversational tone. Just pointing out a thing or two and probably saying it more pointedly than I need to. But not talking about you specifically.

cubanbob said...

Q said...
No doubt including one man/woman one vote one time. And all of your property is mine. Or lets sterilize the retarded because three generations of imbeciles is enough. Because you believe in the process


If the people decide to institute a dictatorship to enslave themselves, then they have that right. People have the right to do ill as well as to do good, the right be be stupid as well as the right to be wise. Take away those rights from them, which is what you want to do, and you reduce them to helpless children.

You want to create a process from which no bad outcomes can emerge. But it is not possible to do that, and the desire to do it can itself lead to various bad outcomes.

4/18/12 1:45 PM

Yes , you are right, I made a typo.
As for avoiding bad outcomes, seriously......... your argument is the ultimate circle jerk.

Saint Croix said...

It's not government overreach to help the poorest. It is exactly what civilized countries do. Uncivilized countries toss people like that into the slums, ignore them and tell them it is their fault they are poor or sick or uneducated.

It's not civilization to take money from workers and give it to non-workers. It's slavery. And while we should all be charitable to the poor, that must be voluntary.

Imagine we're on an island. And some people (the workers) get drafted to provide the food and build the shelters for everybody.

Your utopia becomes a scam, where more and more people try to define themselves as poor, helpless, a victim, destitute, unfortunate, or some loser who needs the workers to provide him with a free shelter and with free food.

You might think about all the resentment your utopia builds in people.

No, sorry. Life requires work. If you want food, you got to work. Shelter? You got to work. Medical care? You got to work.

Liberals bitch about money because they don't want to work. "Spread the wealth around," because they don't want to work.

Party of the workers? My ass.

Q said...

In Q's world, a majority is free to enslave a minority.


There have been such societies, but so far the U.S. is not one of them.


Crack a history book, you jackass.

The majority can always do what they want, if they want to badly enough. That's the entire story of the US Civil War.

Q said...

Q manages to miss Hamilton's entire point, which was that there is no need to specify the precise limitations on the federal government because that which is not expressly allowed is prohibited. So, you see, enumerating specific rights of individuals would have entirely undermined his point.



The point of the passage in question was to limit the power of the federal government. Not to guarantee "individual rights".

A federal government which sees its job as enforcing "individual rights" is not gong to be any sort of limited government, it is going to be the sort of government we have today - zealously supervising the interactions of every two or more "individuals" in the country to make sure that nobodies "rights" are being violated.

Limiting the power of the federal government is NOT the same thing as ensuring that "individual rights" are protected. On this the left are correct for a change in their desire for a big intrusive government, and you are confused in your belief that we can have both "individual rights" and a limited central government.

Q said...

the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed


In the language of the founders "the people" are a singular entity, not an assortment of individuals.

There is this thing called "the people" on the one hand, and there is this thing called "the federal government" on the other. Much of the language of the constitution is concerned with protecting "the people" from "the federal government". But "the people" in question is not the modern notion of the individual writ large.

Revenant said...

It's not government overreach to help the poorest.

Helping "the poorest" seems like a dumb idea. "Poor" doesn't mean "in dire need of assistance". It doesn't mean "incapable of supporting yourself". It just means you haven't got much money. "I don't have much money" isn't a problem anybody but me needs to deal with.

Now, if you said it wasn't government overreach to help those who are in dire need of assistance, that would be somewhat more sensible -- although even then I would expect you to say "what kind of assistance", "what are the limits on the assistance", and "what's your plan for avoiding moral hazard".

Revenant said...

In the language of the founders "the people" are a singular entity, not an assortment of individuals.

Only if you're referring to the founders of the Soviet Union. :)

Q said...

Q, you might start with Federalist No 10.


Read it yourself and understand it, instead of believing the Cliff Notes version you've heard.

It is not a cry for the federal government to step in to enforce "individual rights", it is an argument for why we should have a federal government without the power to do so.

Madison being Madison, it is also a thinly veiled justification for slavery in some states.

Q said...

Only if you're referring to the founders of the Soviet Union.


No, I am referring to the founders of the United States.

Revenant said...

Q, you might start with Federalist No 10.

He doesn't even need to strain himself that much:

"The right of the people to be secure in their...".

"Their". Not "its". :)

Ken said...

Partridge,

But this is obviously a false dichotomy. Leaders being selected by voters is the single most effective limit on government.

Tell that to the Jews.

Q said...

Dude, the Framers talked about natural rights all the time.


This sounds a lot like the claim that the Framers tossed and turned at night worrying about "the majority".

Here is the complete Federalist Papers in one searchable pdf document.

The phrase "natural right" or "natural rights" occurs in it exactly once.

Look up the word "majority" and you don't get the sense that Hamilton, Jay and Madison were especially preoccupied with the supposed great threat presented by what some here call "the mob".

You can also read the writings of the various individual Founders on-line. Here are the writings of James Madison.

If you do what nobody ever does and actually read these documents, you will find that the individuals in question did not write about natural rights, or the danger of the majority, "all the time". In fact you will come across Madison saying things like this:

"The will of the nation being omnipotent for right, is so for wrong also; and the will of the nation being in the majority, the minority must submit to that danger of oppression as an evil infinitely less than the danger to the whole nation from a will independent of it."

Or this:

"If it be asked, what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society? I answer: the genius of the whole system; the nature of just and constitutional laws; and above all, the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America -- a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it.
If this spirit shall ever be so far debased as to tolerate a law not obligatory on the legislature, as well as on the people, the people will be prepared to tolerate any thing but liberty."

Q said...

Tell that to the Jews.


Godwin's Law makes its inevitable appearance.

Rusty said...

"All men are created equally free and independent,
and have certain inherent rights,
of which they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity;
among which are the enjoyment of life and liberty,
with the means of acquiring and possessing property,
and pursuing the obtaining of happiness and safety."

George Mason

None of the above makes any sense if it does not refer to individual rights.

Lets do a little experiment. Find any writings by the founders that specifically limit the individual right to free speech, or to secure in their homes, or the right to bear arms.

Saint Croix said...

Q, you do realize that the Federalist Papers is not actually law?

And that it represents the views of only three people?

And that the writers of the Federalist Papers only had one specific purpose in mind, to get people to ratify the Constitution?

I believe Thomas Jefferson is considered a Framer, too, and he had some things to say.

You might reflect that the Federalist Papers are an absolute failure in one regard, namely that the authors did not argue for individual rights.

Since this part of the argument failed, the Federalists had to promise the Anti-Federalists that there would be a Bill of Rights. Or there would have been no Constitution at all!

Citing the Federalist Papers while you ignore the Bill of Rights is, well, historically obtuse.

Finally, one can believe in popular sovereignty and majority rule (I do!) without dismissing the possibility that popular majorities like our Bill of Rights and will fight to the death to keep them.

Now go and read Amar and learn something.

Synova said...

"Godwin's Law makes its inevitable appearance."

Yet, appropriate, isn't it?

Hitler was elected by the majority, as a reflection of the majority will.

Revenant said...

The phrase "natural right" or "natural rights" occurs in it exactly once.

Well, duh. Both sides were already in agreement that natural rights existed.

Synova said...

"Dr. Frankenstein, with all his Ivy League credentials, was an insane fucker who thought he could play god.

And the mob with the pitchforks? They were right.
"

Gawd.

And I suppose the mob with the noose is right, too?

A democracy functions *only* because the minority feels secure even when it loses. If the majority truly can do anything it wants to you, the minority, no matter who they are, has no choice but to be the strongest and shoot-first.

Where have people been for the last decade or two of World History? Fingers in your ears going "la la la la la la?" Never noticed Darfur or Burma or gawd, was it Rawanda, and Iraq? Tunisia? Or go back to History-History... I suppose that the mob barring the Catholics in Ireland from economic participation as *right* because Protestants were the majority?

Even libertarians arguing that voluntary association means that any person who wants to *can* discriminate in hiring or services or whatever they like, same as you're not forced to have people you loathe over for dinner, even *they* don't for a moment suggest that the government has any right to play favorites or to do anything but keep access to markets open to everyone, protect *everyone's* property, and provide equal treatment by the law.

Synova said...

"Crack a history book, you jackass.

The majority can always do what they want, if they want to badly enough. That's the entire story of the US Civil War.
"

And yet, in Iraq, the minority ruled.

How do you suppose that worked?

Synova said...

"Why do so many Conservatives freak out about government control yet have no trouble supporting the Patriot Act?"

Because a lot of conservatives are actually just as statist as anyone else. And the Patriot Act was designed to make frightened people feel like someone was "doing something."

I'm pretty sure I'm on record (somewhere) of opposing the Patriot Act, since I always did oppose it. Most of the "conservative" blogs I read were profoundly unsupportive of it.

Revenant said...

And yet, in Iraq, the minority ruled. How do you suppose that worked?

That's the fun thing about statements like "X can always Y if they want it badly enough". Anytime X fails to Y, it just proves they didn't want it badly enough. :)

Saint Croix said...

Hitler was elected by the majority, as a reflection of the majority will.

No! He won a plurality of the vote, and that was it. Majority of Germans voted against Hitler in 1932.

30yearProf said...

With few exceptions, people who become Supreme Court Justices grow up and live in glass jars of privilege and often affulance (certainly once they hit college). They are part of the governing Establishment.

They will never understand that most Americans want and believe that the Constitution creates a central government of limited powers (commerce clause notwithstanding) and the Bill of Rights is intended to put REAL, enforceable restrictions on government.

Have you ever tried to justify the "rational basis" test to a group of intelligent but ordinary folk? They think it's a joke and thay can't believe any part of the BoR is discretionary with government. They want it to place limits on the power of any majority.

That belief is what most clearly marks out Americans when you live or visit Europe, for example. Whether Republican, Democrat, or libertarian, Americans see government more as a necessary evil to be kept in a small cage when compared to Europeans who really believe the best and the brightest know better.

Revenant said...

government lending a hand to the poorest among us is considered invasive and over-reaching their authority but government tightening security, adding more surveillance and spying on us - which you would think would be bad - is considered just fine

That's one way of putting it. Another would be "why is catching terrorists considered bad, but funneling money from working Americans to lazy drug addicts considered good?" The accurate way of putting it, of course, is somewhere in between your view and the one I stated above. Not everyone on welfare is undeserving, and not everyone spied on by the government is an innocent victim.

There are two important things you're missing, though:

1. Anyone who wishes can give as much of their own money as they wish to those in need. The only purpose of *government* aid is to force others to give money they don't want to give. That's not charity, that's extortion.

2. Government spending is paid for by confiscating time from those taxed. American government at all levels consumes around 40 cents of every dollar. I.e., two out of every five working days. Around 35,000 hours of your life, over the course of a career.

So far as I'm concerned, at least 20,000 of those hours -- or ten years of labor, if you prefer -- are completely wasted. Give me back those 20,000 hours, THEN whine that I'm not being generous enough with my time and money.

Saint Croix said...

And I suppose the mob with the noose is right, too?

No, but violence and revolution is a given if the majority will is denied. Hello, this is King George 101.

Many Americans believe the Supreme Court has killed some babies. Hell, even the Supreme Court believes the Supreme Court has killed some babies. They write in graphic detail about killing a baby in Carhart.

And there is no redress for this grievance. We have no say. We are sitting around, waiting for our bad kings to die, in the hopes that we will get a better king in the future.

This will not work. We already have a situation where modern day John Browns are running around shooting doctors. And now we have an abortion doctor being prosecuted for murder. It's a snafu of epic proportions.

If the majority truly can do anything it wants to you, the minority, no matter who they are, has no choice but to be the strongest and shoot-first.

Minorities are weak! They're outnumbered. The way for minorities to get their way is not by violence, but by persuasion. They need to turn their minority into a majority.

But if we abandon majority rule, if we give up our rights and say that elites will rule us, we're doomed.

There's no point in talking or convincing or voting, because the elites have the power and they are dictators. The only thing that is left in that scenario is violent revolt.

Ballots or bullets. Failure to respect the former leads to the latter.

Consider what you are saying. Do you actually think that unpopular laws should be imposed on our people?

How would you feel if Obama lost the election but decided to stay in power?

The answer is obvious. You would feel that such a move is utterly illegitimate. Your presumption is that majorities rule.

Read the Constitution. When it talks about elections, it doesn't have to say "majorities rule." We all know majorities rule.

Majority rule is fair because it assumes human equality. Minority rule is dubious because it assume some people are superior to others, and they can boss us around.

Minority rule pisses people off. Majority rule, we accept. Because minorities can become majorities, and vice versa, and we all know this.

Revenant said...

Ballots or bullets. Failure to respect the former leads to the latter.

Interesting choice of words, given that the phrase "the ballot or the bullet" refers to the right of minorities to violently resist oppression by democratic majorities.

It means, simply put, "if the majority doesn't vote to respect minority rights, start shooting the majority".

Revenant said...

"Dr. Frankenstein, with all his Ivy League credentials, was a character in a science fiction novel.

Fen said...

compared to Europeans who really believe the best and the brightest know better.

One thing that rountinely stops me in my tracks is how often the "best and brightest" people around me can be so damn stupid and ignorant.

Steve Koch said...

Synova said:
"Tell that to the Jews."

Q said:
"Godwin's Law makes its inevitable appearance."

Synova's remark is actually quite relevant. Hitler did not win a majority but he did come to power legally via the election process. He did not stage a bloody revolution to grab the reins of power in Germany. After gaining power via election and legal political maneuvering, Hitler then turned the democracy into a dictatorship.

Democracies can easily turn into dictatorships when the federal government's power is not checked and balanced. Q is OK with that, which seems insane to me.

America's founders were quite aware that the federal government could be oppressive and even turn into a dictatorship and were careful to rein in the power of the federal government.

Steve Koch said...

"The key phrase being "sufficiently large". Some things can be decided by bare majorities. Some things need a 2/3 majority."

Q said:
"That's a trivial distinction. In both cases the majority prevails."

Hilarious, the difference between getting just over half the votes and getting over 2/3 of the votes is trivial because both are examples of majorities?! By that logic the difference is also trivial between requiring that you get just over half the votes and requiring that you get all the votes (100%) because both are examples of majorities.

SGT Ted said...

No individual rights in the Constitution that are inalienable?

What a fucking laugher.

Q is the perfect useful idiot. Only leftwingers claim US Civil Liberties are collective rights. That way, they can use the collective as an excuse to take them away. "For the Children" is the ultimate collectivist war cry.

Collective Rights is the European and French version of civil rights, not the US version; they don't have the same decoder and thus don't work together at all.

SGT Ted said...

If you want a European Style Progressive Welfare State, go live in Europe. The USA is supposed to be the anti-Europe and not jump on every stupid collectivist control freak band wagon that comes along.

Steve Koch said...

"There is a reason why the founders made amending the constitution rather difficult, it is to cool the passions of the mob."



Regarding the difficulty of passing amendments to the constitution, Federalist Paper 85 states:

"Nor however difficult it may be supposed to unite two thirds or three fourths of the State legislatures, in amendments which may affect local interests, can there be any room to apprehend any such difficulty in a union on points which are merely relative to the general liberty or security of the people. We may safely rely on the disposition of the State legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority."

Again, the founders wanted to make sure the states had to power to stop the federal government from getting too powerful. It is all about balance of power.

The founders made the process of amending the constitution difficult on purpose and would have been appalled by the Supreme Court modifying the constitution via judicial activism.

Rusty said...

Lets do a little experiment. Find any writings by the founders that specifically limit the individual right to free speech, or to secure in their homes, or the right to bear arms.


It's OK you can stop looking. You won't find anything.




Revenant said...
government lending a hand to the poorest among us is considered invasive and over-reaching their authority but government tightening security, adding more surveillance and spying on us - which you would think would be bad - is considered just fine

That's one way of putting it. Another would be "why is catching terrorists considered bad, but funneling money from working Americans to lazy drug addicts considered good?" The accurate way of putting it, of course, is somewhere in between your view and the one I stated above. Not everyone on welfare is undeserving, and not everyone spied on by the government is an innocent victim.

There are two important things you're missing, though:

1. Anyone who wishes can give as much of their own money as they wish to those in need. The only purpose of *government* aid is to force others to give money they don't want to give. That's not charity, that's extortion.

2. Government spending is paid for by confiscating time from those taxed. American government at all levels consumes around 40 cents of every dollar. I.e., two out of every five working days. Around 35,000 hours of your life, over the course of a career.

So far as I'm concerned, at least 20,000 of those hours -- or ten years of labor, if you prefer -- are completely wasted. Give me back those 20,000 hours, THEN whine that I'm not being generous enough with my time and money.




(sniff) Love ya bro.
Beer? (sniff)

Steve Koch said...

Q's posts remind me that the left is all of a sudden outraged by Supreme Court judicial activism. Ha ha. They were fine with the Supreme Court inventing out of a penumbra of thin air a constitutional right for abortion but now are outraged that the Supreme Court might overturn ObamaCare. Ha ha. Serves the dems right for writing legislation that they don't even read and for routinely using the courts to unconstitutionally accomplish what they could not get done via the legislative process.

BTW, which one of the Supreme Court justices leaked to Obama that ObamaCare is being overturned? Was it Sotomayor or Kagen? Isn't that an impeachable offense?

Dems already talking about impeaching some Supreme Court justices for overturning ObamaCare. Conservatives should impeach fed judges and supreme court justices every time they do judicial activism. Instead, we have Orrin Hatch saying that the dem prez ought to be able to select his man/woman. How can the GOP have this bland, unprincipled idiot (i.e. Hatch) as the head man reviewing fed judge and Supreme Court nominees?

Steve Koch said...

"Who knew the founders who crafted a charter of enumerated powers and negative rights believed such things."


Q said:
"The Founders created a constitution with the explicit understanding that it could and would be altered by "the people" or "the majority" at their discretion.

It was not and is not a secular version of the Ten Commandments"

The constitution is an amazing document, absolutely brilliant. It is inconceivable that our current political class could craft such a profoundly wise document. A similar example is Shakespeare, nobody has been able to equal the brilliance of Shakespeare after all these hundreds of years.

Nowadays our political class ranges from cynical and corrupt on the left, only concerned with relentlessly increasing the power of the federal government to incompetent and confused on the right, unable to get out of its own way. It is no wonder that we regard our constitution with awe.

Synova said...

What's amazing is that moment when you first find out that not all countries have a Constitution at all. Some of them do, but many Western countries, first-world even, simply don't have one. People really *can* pass whatever laws they can get through their legislatures. New Zealand can choose to bar fat people from immigrating, and England can take your kids away from you if they are too chubby, and if the "majority" as represented by elected persons want to outlaw homeschool in Germany they can. There is actually no bar at all, if a government wanted to institute death-panels and mean it.

Even with a Constitution in the US it's a constant fight to push back on the encroachment of government, and if Bloomberg can ban fat and salt and home-made meals at homeless shelters, at least it's not the Feds, even though the Feds try every chance they can get, and the rest of us can mock New York, which is at least entertaining.

SGT Ted said...

"The Founders created a constitution with the explicit understanding that it could and would be altered by "the people" or "the majority" at their discretion.

It was not and is not a secular version of the Ten Commandments"


This is the pretense Leftists use to use the "people" to usurp and strip away individual inalienable rights. They prefer to use the courts to do so, because that is the easiest to corrupt.

I know what my rights are and I know they aren't granted to me by a big mob, until they change their mind.

Revenant said...

The Founders created a constitution with the explicit understanding that it could and would be altered by "the people" or "the majority" at their discretion.

A supermajority of elected officials. Not a majority of the public. The two aren't even remotely similar.

Suppose Party X supports an amendment and Party Y opposes it. It is possible, under our system, for 97.7% of the population to vote for Party X... but for Party Y to still win enough races to block ratification of the amendment.

Our system isn't built around majority rule. It is built around power-sharing by, and competition between, different (and frequently opposed) political forces. "What voters want" is just one input into the system.