Friday, November 24, 2006

Maybe Mitt Gets It

On Tuesday over at The Remedy, the blog of The Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy, Richard Samuelson writes about one of the men who is being talked about as a potential candidate for the 2008 Republican Party's nominee for President of these United States:
Romney Gets It

At Claremont we study statesmanship. One of the main elements of statesmanship in our republic is teaching. Great American statesman must educate the citizenry about the nature and purpose of republican government.

I have only begun to pay close attention to the race for the 2008 Republican nomination, but so far Romney seems to be the only one who might understand that.

Consider two recent comments. The first, thanks to Power Line is an exchange with a reporter:
A reporter from the Boston Globe asked Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney a rambling question about removing some tolls from the Mass. Turnpike. Eventually, Romney interrupted by joking, "Do you have a point of view on this?" The reporter responded, "I represent the people, governor." To which Romney said, "No, I represent the people, you represent the media."
Here we see Romney reminding the reporter, and through him the people present, that in our democratic republic the only people who represent the people is those whom the people have chosen to do so. Any others who claim to represent the people are usurpers.

We see the same focus in the comments he delivered to a rally on the steps of the Massachusetts Statehouse, (via the The Corner):
This was the place where an astounding idea was born. It revolutionized America, it revolutionized the world.

The idea was this: our nation would be guided by the voice of the people.

This nation would trust the voice of the people rather than the wisdom of a king, or anyone else.

The idea was embodied in the first Constitution, written by John Adams, here in Massachusetts. It established how the voice of the people would be heard – through elections and votes, petitions and initiatives, representatives and senators.

Lincoln said that as elected leaders, we promise to follow the law, to follow the Constitution. He called this “America’s political religion.”

Last week, 109 legislators decided to reject the law, abandon the Constitution, and violate their oath of office.

For the Constitution plainly states that when a qualified petition is placed before them, the legislature “shall” vote. It does not say may vote, or vote if its procedures permit a vote, or vote if there are enough of the members in attendance. It says “shall” vote.

A decision not to vote is a decision to usurp the Constitution, to abandon democracy and substitute a form of what this nation’s founders called tyranny, that is, the imposition of the will of those in power, on the people.
Here again, Romney keeps his focus on the special character of our constitutional republic. I'm impressed.
You can see the first exchange here on YouTube. The latter comments are even more impressive when reading more of Gov. Romney's statement as found on The Corner. We just may have a Whig running for President!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A National Day of Thanksgiving

The President of the United States has proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving:
Thanksgiving Day, 2006
A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

As Americans gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, we give thanks for the many ways that our Nation and our people have been blessed.

The Thanksgiving tradition dates back to the earliest days of our society, celebrated in decisive moments in our history and in quiet times around family tables. Nearly four centuries have passed since early settlers gave thanks for their safe arrival and pilgrims enjoyed a harvest feast to thank God for allowing them to survive a harsh winter in the New World. General George Washington observed Thanksgiving during the Revolutionary War, and in his first proclamation after becoming President, he declared November 26, 1789, a national day of "thanksgiving and prayer." During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln revived the tradition of proclaiming a day of thanksgiving, reminding a divided Nation of its founding ideals.

At this time of great promise for America, we are grateful for the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution and defended by our Armed Forces throughout the generations. Today, many of these courageous men and women are securing our peace in places far from home, and we pay tribute to them and to their families for their service, sacrifice, and strength. We also honor the families of the fallen and lift them up in our prayers.

Our citizens are privileged to live in the world's freest country, where the hope of the American dream is within the reach of every person. Americans share a desire to answer the universal call to serve something greater than ourselves, and we see this spirit every day in the millions of volunteers throughout our country who bring hope and healing to those in need. On this Thanksgiving Day, and throughout the year, let us show our gratitude for the blessings of freedom, family, and faith, and may God continue to bless America.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 23, 2006, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all Americans to gather together in their homes and places of worship with family, friends, and loved ones to reinforce the ties that bind us and give thanks for the freedoms and many blessings we enjoy.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-first.

For more about national days of thanksgiving, see my other blog.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Looking to the 2006 election

Dr. Jerry Pournelle, over at Chaos Manor, described well last Friday the dilemma some of us face in the upcoming General Election:
True Whig

Rush Limbaugh is running a diatribe against "Cut and Run Conservatives" and thinks there are none since no one calls in to passionately defend the notion of allowing the Republicans to lose as a lesson to them. He is wrong, of course. There are many conservatives who in disgust intend to stay home, but they do not do so in joy.

I understand his point. I intend to vote this election, and although I do not believe the Republicans deserve to win -- they have shown they do not govern well, and have grown fat with power -- the prospects of Speaker Pelosi are less attractive. The way to close the Southern Border is not to elect the Open Borders Party. The way to reform foreign policy is not precipitate retreat and dismantling of Strategic Defense. The way to energy independence is not to put even greater obstacles in front of nuclear power while spending money on moonbeams and fairy wheels. The way to better emergency management through building local civil defense organizations is not to elect the party that invented FEMA and destroyed Civil Defense.

The Republicans have shown they are not fit to rule. Alas, the Democrats have no better prospects. The Democrats didn't get us into a ground war, but they did get us into war in the Balkans where we have far less national interest than we do in Iraq. The Republicans took us into Afghanistan and then Iraq. The Democrats would not have taken us into Afghanistan, and would have imposed even heavier restrictions on domestic energy production.

I long for the days of Tweedledee and Tweedledum, of parties that had little differentiation; but those days are long gone. I long for the days when party activists, self-selected precinct workers, ran power=brokered national Conventions. Those days are long gone. The election matters. A Democratic House will not enforce immigration law or build border fences, nor fund Strategic Defense and Assured Access to Space.

I do not like either of the major parties. My own party would be Whig.
Read here for more -- interesting, given the direction of this "political" blog of mine. But as bad as the national election is, he should consider his good fortune to not to be a voter in Illinois, where the Republican Party's leadership also grew fat from power and, at least for as long as I have been in Illinois, Tweedledee vs. Tweedledum doesn't work when both are corrupt.

So, also on Friday came an e-mail from the Illinois Republican Young Professionals, making note of a column published a month ago by John Kass of the Chicago Tribune. Writes Kass,
Would a Topinka loss actually help Republicans reform their party, by sweeping out the hogs and allowing them to take back the GOP, finally, from the sleek bosses who've been gorging out of the public trough since Big Jim Thompson was governor?

Republicans know Topinka's political history as handmaiden to the bipartisan Illinois combine. She has openly supported Democrats over Republicans in general elections, yet now she demands Republican loyalty.”

And as chairman of the state Republican Party, Topinka pointedly refused to endorse the incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.).

Voters don't believe she'd be any different than Blagojevich. This is a serious problem for the calcified Republican hierarchy. But whether it is a problem for grass-roots Republicans is another matter.

I don't think it is a problem for any Republican except the elite. Because if Topinka is elected, I see a tax increase, and more casinos, and after one term she'll be rejected. Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) might even retire, once he has installed his daughter, Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan, as Democratic governor of Illinois, to thrive on the Topinka tax revenues, and rule the state liberally for the rest of our natural lives.
Read Kass' entire column here.

And FWIW, a Topinka victory (which thankfully is not very likely) would mean that the Illinois Republican Party's elite would be able to stave off new blood interested in republican principles and winning elections for the sake of serving the people of Illinois.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Sudden Demise of a Congressman

Jerry Pournelle over at The View from Chaos Manor offers a brief, but insightful, comment on the sudden crash of Rep. Tom Foley's (R-Fla.) political career. I'll copy one paragraph, but you can read it all here.
    Whatever one's views on homosexuality -- in Washington DC the age of consent is 16 so there doesn't appear to be anything illegal here -- it's certainly not part of the mainstream culture for grown men to have conversations with teen age boys about masturbation. Of course there is a segment of the population and the intellectual community who think it ought to be part of our culture, and they seem to be taking delight in exposing Foley for doing something that they don't usually oppose. Had Foley's follies been exposed prior to the primary election, he would have withdrawn and a different Republican would have been nominated for what is, absent this kind of scandal, a safe Republican district. This looks to have been rather carefully arranged.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Royalist Whig? Loyalty binds me...

American Whigs took that name to signify the republican resisitance to the monarchical despotism of President Andrew Jackson -- what we might call today the "Imperial Presidency." So it would seem strange to remember today Richard III, the last Plantagent King of England, whose popular reputation has been that of usurper and tyrant. Well, as an historian, Shakespeare is marvelous playwright. (Yes, I am also a Ricardian.)
"The historical records of Richard's time show that he was in fact an enlightened monarch who passed progressive laws, fostered learning, promoted the importation of books, started the system of bail and passed legislation to stop the intimidation of juries by powerful men," states [Richard III Society] American Branch Chairman A. Compton Reeves, professor of medieval history at Ohio University. According to the Richard III Society, the charges against Richard stem from Tudor writers who, in their efforts to justify a new king and dynasty, systematically blackened Richard III's reputation. Shakespeare unwittingly used these biased sources--the only ones available as long as the Tudors occupied the English throne--to immortalize propaganda as legend.

"The most mighty Prince Richard ... all avarice set aside ruled his subjects in his realm full commendably, punishing offenders of his laws, specially extortioners and oppressors of his commons, and cherishing those that were virtuous, by the which discreet guiding he got great thanks of God and love of all his subjects, rich and poor, and great praise of the people of all other lands about him". Thus wrote a contemporary of the King.

The Richard III Society of Canada continues:
He was a keen student of law," and insisted on equality before the law and justice without delay. He formally created the institution of the Court of Request, whose duty it was to hear the 'bills, requests and supplications of poor persons." He established the practice of bail for prisoners awaiting trial, while prohibiting the seizure of their property before they had been judged by due process of law. He outlawed benevolences (the practice of extorting money by the king from his nobles), and successfully reorganized the system of governmental finance.

The Richard III Society in the UK includes this description of Richard's rule:
Richard’s parliament of 1484, apart from attending to the business of the king’s title and the October rebellion, passed legislation which led Sir Francis Bacon to describe Richard as ‘a good lawmaker for the ease and solace of the common people’. For example, Richard was concerned with the problem of corrupt and lazy officials and some of the statutes dealt with this problem. Richard’s policy throughout his career was to set standards whereby officials were educated and sufficiently wealthy in order for them to be less vulnerable to corruption. At a session in the Star Chamber Richard personally brought to the attention of his justices connivance at altering a court record, the reporter of the session states that Richard was ‘perturbed’ that such cases should arise.

"King Richard III’s only Parliament assembled on 23 January, 1484, passing 18 private statutes and 15 public ones. He is known to have been an innovative lawmaker and a summary of his statutes . . . indicates a keen insight into his desire to be fair, enlightened and judicious," says the Richard III Foundation.

Now, certainly Richard III was no enlightenment republican. He was a 15th Century King, after all. But as we look at the actions and legislation of our 3 branches of the Federal government, regardless of which party controls each particular branch, it seems as if the American republic is being run to promote something other than the general welfare. Politicians and pundits demogogue taxes, the "War on Terror," public morality, and whatever else they can think of as they buy each other off with the taxes paid by you, me, and our descendants. Frankly, our elected representatives could take some lessons in good government from Richard III.

So this Whig chooses to remember today a monarch who sought to promote domestic tranquility and justice in his realm. "Loyaulte me lie" (loyalty binds me) was his motto. And that loyalty wasn't just to himself.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Immigration from a Christian Perspective

As the immigration debate continues, I find some unusually helpful comments over at Lincoln & Liberty, where blogger Bill Cork reminds us that the Old Testament prophets speak quite clearly of the Judeo-Christian attitude to "the alien in your land."

I was born and raised to adulthood in the West San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, as was my father before me. In the '50s-'60s, the Valley was the stereotypical American suburb. Yes, there was a Japanese girl in my Kindergarten class, a black (well, "Negro") boy in the 2nd grade, and a Chicano boy in 3rd grade. But the long-established barrio less than a mile away (my high school bordered it) was a very different world that I didn't really know about until I was in Junior High.

Immigrants really started flooding the Valley in the '70s, and we natives didn't always take too well to those "foreigners" from Vietnam, India, Iran, Pakistan, and south of the border. On the 7 mile drive from home to University beginning in the late in the '70s, the mini-malls I passed every day had signs in 7-8 languages. I didn't like it at all.

Yes, Miss McClure had taught us Emma Lazarus' poem in the 5th grade: "Give me your tired, you poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..." But times had changed.

Then I read the OT prophets, and my attitude changed.

No, we ought not hand immigrants, legal or not, everything on a silver platter. As a conservative I see our courts, politicians, bureaucrats, and lobbyists giving far too many "entitlements" to everyone from the public purse. And we keep electing representatives who will "get more for me."

The problem is not "illegal immigration." The only difference between them and my immigrant ancestors is that an immigration bureaucracy whose job it was to keep the wrong kind of people out had yet to be created.

Those who rant about "illegal immigration" need to be reminded that the poem on the Statue of Liberty is not pie-in-the-sky idealism that we can no longer afford. And Bill Cork does that very well:

The Catholic Church accepts the Scriptural exhortation that "We must obey God rather than man" (Acts 5:29). We must stand defiantly before any idol, refusing to bow down (see the book of Daniel). We honor the saints and martyrs who stood firmly against unjust and tyrannical laws.

We see that Scripture is clear on the matter of our attitude toward aliens:

Exodus 22:21"Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.

Exodus 23:9 "Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt

Leviticus 19:10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 19:33 "'When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.

It's not a "Catholic thing," either. It's a Judeo-Christian thing. Heck, it's an American thing! It's why we're a nation worth coming to -- for we really are better. At least when we remember who we are.

Again, read it all here.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Time to re-form the Whig Party?

The American Whig Party emerged in the 1830s in response to the nascent "executive tyranny" of President Andrew Jackson. While the Whigs disappeared two decades later as the United States traveled down the road to Civil War, what hasn't disappeared is the tension between those who would use the Republic to uphold the liberties enshrined in our Constitution and those who would use that same Republic to to shred those same liberties for their own special interests.

While today's Democratic Party claims the mantle of democracy and today's Republican Party claims the mantle of republicanism, both parties have given us a government that has power over the lives of ordinary Americans that King George III and his Parliament couldn't even begin to imagine, betraying their proud roots in the ideals of the Founding Fathers. Now in the 21st Century, executive tyranny -- enthusiastically endorsed by both "the Peoples House" and the representatives of the states and perpetuated by the judicial usurpation of democracy -- has indeed supplanted republican self-government.

Ultimately, American Whiggery failed as a political movement. But its voice still cries out, even when the people are seduced by the "bread and circuses" that our political candidates hand out to buy their re-elections with our tax dollars paid today and in the generations to come.

This is the blog of a modern Whig. I won't comment very often, but every once in a while, I won't be able to resist shouting about yet one more sell-out of liberty.