Tags: 2020 Elections | Donald Trump | Joe Biden | Presidential History | framers | harris | madison

Trump Embodies Nation's Founding Truths

president donald trump  at a rally at resch center complex in green bay wisconsin

President Donald Trump arrives at a rally at Resch Center Complex in Green Bay, Wis., Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

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Monday, 29 April 2019 04:39 PM Current | Bio | Archive

It is helpful, occasionally, to return to the concerns of our Constitution’s Framers, so that we don’t lose sight of the enduring principles of our republic.

Ours was a nation forged in the intellectual movement we usually call the Enlightenment, the chief characteristic of which was a belief that humans could form societies in which reason governed, rather than the arbitrary power of hereditary monarchs or aristocrats.

Our Constitution, arguably the greatest product of that Enlightenment, gave us a government designed to protect the people from our governors and ourselves.

The idea, as Madison explained in the Federalist, was to create institutional safeguards such as separation of powers and dual state and federal sovereignty so that arbitrary power, of a kind under which Europeans had suffered for centuries, was not replicated.

We also realized, early on, that the best means to secure the republic was to guarantee the rights of private property and to encourage economic development and social mobility, in order to give us the means, as the Declaration of Independence put it, to pursue happiness, and, as the Constitution’s preamble provided, to secure domestic tranquility.

The difficulty for us has always been, given the fallible nature of human beings, and given their insatiable selfish desires both for the accumulation of power and for the immediate gratification of pleasure, to cultivate a spirit of community and virtue.

What the Founders feared most were that the American people would be tempted by demagogues who would promise them anything in order to further their own corrupt schemes.

The 2020 presidential election, as so many of ours have been, is shaping up to be a clear referendum on the Framers’ aims and an opportunity to reaffirm what kind of a nation we seek to be.

President Trump, for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, has been offering a simple reaffirmation of our core values.

His program has been and continues to be one of economic progress, including promoting deregulation, manufacturing and investment, and has successfully achieved levels of employment and productivity that have not been seen for decades.

Similarly, advised by the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy and the Heritage Foundation, the President has been appointing judges committed to our original constitutional scheme of separation of powers and federalism.

Finally, as he did this week in his rally in Wisconsin, when he reminded his listeners that in this country we worship God, not the government, the president has actually sought to restore the foundation of morality and religion, seriously eroded in recent decades, without which the Framers believed the virtue necessary to maintain a republic could exist.

The Democrats, to the extent one can discern a coherent political platform, seem to stand for the exact opposite of the president. Closing their eyes to the current economic renaissance, they claim, as Joe Biden did, that President Trump has issued in an era of darkness and despair.

Ignoring the unfolding of what may be the worst political crimes since Watergate — the attempt by Obama administration officials and the Hillary Clinton campaign to undermine Trump and his administration through the Russia collusion hoax — Biden, in an extraordinarily audacious bit of mendacity, trumpets that the Obama administration was free from scandal, and falsely accuses the president of sympathies with white supremacists.

The purportedly amiable Mr. Biden is the kind of demagogue the framers warned us about, as are many of the other Democrat Presidential wannabees.

Sen. Bernie Sanders’s lifelong love affair with socialism would hardly be consistent with the framer’s design, and his proposal to allow convicted felons to vote is not one calculated to reward and cultivate virtue. Sen. Kamala Harris’s idea of enabling those incarcerated for drug violations to participate in marketing legalized cannabis betrays a similar perversion of our founding notions.

Beto O’Rourke’s proposal to do away with the barriers on our Southern border reveals a view opposite to that of the president’s, and seems calculated to appeal to those not committed to protecting our national interests.

There are, of course, some issues in the upcoming election that were not contemplated by our founding generation — the pace of climate change, for example, and whether such change is caused by human activity.

In spite of the blandishments of the Democrats, there is respectable scientific opinion that appropriate steps can be taken to preserve our environment without crippling our industrial recovery, and without sacrificing private property and self-government.

The Framers cautioned against "designing" politicians who would distort the truth to serve personal partisan ends, and, as usual, this is the issue in the upcoming election. Our current president is not without bluster and a bit of exaggeration, but, on the whole, he represents the great truths at the foundation of this country.

Stephen B. Presser is the Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History Emeritus at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law, the Legal Affairs Editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and a contributor to The University Bookman. He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and has taught at Rutgers University, the University of Virginia, and University College, London. He has often testified on constitutional issues before committees of the United States Congress, and is the author of "Recapturing the Constitution: Race, Religion, and Abortion Reconsidered" (Regnery, 1994) and "Law Professsors: Three Centuries of Shaping American Law" (West Academic, 2017). Presser was recently appointed as a Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy at the University of Colorado's Boulder Campus for 2018-2019. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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StephenBPresser
The Framers cautioned against "designing" politicians who would distort the truth to serve personal partisan ends, and, as usual, this is the issue in the upcoming election. Our current president, on the whole, represents the great truths at the foundation of this country.
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Monday, 29 April 2019 04:39 PM
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