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Tags: Barack Obama | Donald Trump | Presidential History | Russia Probe | giridharadas | federalist | gorsuch

November Choice Is About Preserving Our Founding Values

november election united states

(Jon Anders Wiken/Dreamstime) 

By    |   Friday, 08 May 2020 11:26 AM

Our current period of enforced confinement, if it leads us more deeply to ponder the decision we will face six months from now, may turn out to be a sort of blessing.

We the people of the United States are uniquely engaged in self-definition every four years, as we ask ourselves what sort of country we want to be, and in whom we want to place our trust as our chief executive and our Congress.

Our choice — between Donald Trump and the Republicans and Joe Biden and the Democrats — is, essentially, a choice between continuing the ethos of the current administration and returning to that of the last one.

It's now a truism that we are divided, between right and left, as never before, but the nature of that division has not been fully understood.

What we are really doing, in this election campaign, is choosing between two rival and stark visions of who we are, who we have been, and who we ought to be.

One view, held by prominent Democrats, their allies in the media, and academia, is that we are a nation Founded on oppression, and that we tend obtusely to fail to acknowledge the real character of the country — and the needs of the times.

The New York Times’s dubious 1619 project has presented America’s break with Great Britain as an effort to perpetuate slavery, and MSNBC contributor Anand Giridharadas has flatly stated that "we’re a country founded on slavery and genocide."

Mr. Giridharadas went further and stated that our Founders were "freedom obsessed," and "that we’re blind to other types of threats — whether it’s a virus, whether it’s bank malfeasance, climate change, what have you."

Mr. Giridharadas’s notions — against "freedom" and emphasizing America’s dark past — in the last administration, led to behavior like President Barack Obama’s "apology tours" of other nations, repudiating a purported national ethos of imperialism and racism.

What accounts for Donald Trump’s (and before him Ronald Reagan’s) appeal is their utter rejection of this view, and their recalling us to the positive aspects of our heritage.

That heritage is, of course, about "freedom" — freedom from monarchy, aristocracy, and foreign domination.

But it is about much more.

As John Jay put it in Federalist No. 2, "Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people — a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence."

Those who champion the original understanding of the Constitution, jurists such as the late Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch and Mr. Trump himself, understand with Jay that our republic is supposed to be one committed to the rule of law, to separation of powers, and to the preservation of the rights of assembly, freedom of religion, private property, and due process, among other virtues.

The idea, of course, as repeated in our Pledge of Allegiance, is "one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all," but that liberty is grounded in individual responsibility, and a shared commitment to piety and the preservation of self-government.

In recent years, and during the Obama administration in particular, that liberty was at risk not only through actions that violated our Constitution and laws, but through machinations that, we are now beginning to understand, were designed to undermine and ultimately remove a Republican president.

The manufactured narrative of "Russian Collusion," that was used to justify the Mueller investigation, the brazen and partisan groundless impeachment effort, and, as we discovered this week, the attempt to entrap General Flynn, in order to remove a man who had publicly and devastatingly criticized the policies of the outgoing administration, it is likely we will find — were all pieces of an insidious effort to prevent the success of Mr. Trump, his administration, and his vision.

Those who perpetrated this series of atrocities may or may not find themselves under criminal indictment, as the Justice Department under U.S. Atty. Gen. William "Bill" Barr, and his prosecutor John Durham, begin to unravel what will likely be understood as the greatest attempt at a silent coup this nation has experienced.

We don’t yet know the full extent of participation in these purported acts by President Obama himself and his vice president, Joe Biden.

Yet, it ought to be clear now that the choice for Americans this November is between a party that seeks to restore the better values of our Founding, and one that has sought to undermine and disparage them.

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 a Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy at the University of Colorado's Boulder Campus for 2018-2019. Read Stephen B. Presser's Reports — More Here.

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It ought to be clear now that the choice for Americans this November is between a party that seeks to restore the better values of our Founding, and one that has sought to undermine and disparage them.
giridharadas, federalist, gorsuch, scalia
Friday, 08 May 2020 11:26 AM
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