A Government of Laws, or of Men?

“The very definition of a republic is ‘an empire of laws, not of men’.” John Adams

Several of the founding principles of this nation have come under fire from liberals in recent years. One of them is John Adams’ definition of a republic. Adams and the other Founders all believed, as modern day conservatives do, that a nation should be governed by laws; laws written on paper, clearly defined, easily understood, and universally acknowledged.

Liberals want persons, not written documents, to govern our society. Liberal politics quite often comes down to a matter of devotion to a cult of personality.

This tendency was on display when then-Senator Barack Obama was running for President in 2008. Quite often women would literally swoon during his speeches, as was widely reported at the time. People would scream like teenage girls at a Beatles concert when he spoke. Chris Matthews of MSNBC famously said that he’d “felt a thrill go up my leg” when he heard Obama speak.

In her book Demonic, Ann Coulter quotes several prominent liberal pundits making similarly idolatrous comments about various leftwing politicians, including Bill Clinton and Al Gore. She quotes the editor of one magazine as saying “Every woman I know is having sex dreams about Bill Clinton.”

No conservative talks that way about any politician.

Another manifestation of this laws-vs-men disagreement is the different types of judges conservative and liberal Presidents try to put on the US Supreme Court. The justices universally described as “conservative” are the ones who allow themselves to be bound by the written words of the US Constitution. Justice Clarence Thomas exemplified this kind of judicial discipline when he voted to uphold a Texas law on sodomy, even though he considered the law “uncommonly silly.”

The Justices recognized as “liberal” view the Constitution as what Presidential candidate Al Gore called it in 2000; a “living, breathing document” that can be re-interpreted to mean what it “should” mean, rather than what the words actually say. These are the judges who consider themselves, rather than the written words of the Constitution, to be paramount.

Liberals today reverently quote Justice Thurgood Marshall on the subject of judicial activism: “You do what you think is right, and let the law catch up.” Justice Marshall, in other words, put his own gut feelings about what was “right” ahead of the written law. Liberals admire him for this, and left-leaning Presidential candidates like Al Gore promise to appoint just such activists, in order to garner the support of liberal voters.

It’s not just at the Supreme Court level that liberals push for judicial activism. It’s always conservatives who push for inflexible sentencing rules for crime, and liberals who push for the maximum possible discretion for individual judges.

The ever-expanding power of government bureaucracies is another example of the liberal philosophy of empowering supposedly “elite” individuals to rule arbitrarily over the rest of us. Bureaucrats, as we all know, are not accountable to anyone. They don’t get fired, they don’t get punished. Even the bureaucrat who fast-tracked most of the September 11 hijackers into the United States got a performance bonus for that year.

Attorney General Eric Holder has made it clear that he is perfectly willing to use the powers of his office as he sees fit, without regard to his Constitutional duties. He proved that when he blocked the prosecution of a couple of violent thugs who tried to chase white voters from the polls on election day, just because he agreed with their politics. And he made it clear that he accepts no responsibility for his actions when he claimed, implausibly, not to know anything about his department’s “Fast and Furious” program to arm Mexican gangsters. 

 Now President Obama has saddled the nation with a health care law that empowers nameless, faceless bureaucrats on federal Death Panels to decide who among us is worthy of life-saving therapies. Once again, the power to rule goes to select individuals, whom the rest of us are supposed to trust.

The Founders would be outraged.

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