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Politics: We Need Core Principles

We are in need of some fundamental rules that can establish a standard against which we can judge elected officials' behavior as well as the legislation they introduce and/or vote for.

Over the past several years, as I have become more familiar with the political landscape, and particularly how our elected representatives, both state and federal, conduct themselves it has occurred to me that we are in need of some fundamental rules that can establish a standard against which we can judge their behavior as well as the legislation they introduce and/or vote for.

I am proposing the following set of Core Principles in the honest hope that they can become more than an editorial exercise. It is my hope that enough citizens will agree with them that they can become an issue in this and future elections, and that we can begin to use them as a standard for evaluating proposed legislation before it gets voted on.

I welcome comments and feedback, particularly objections.

My Core Principles

1. The Constitution is more than a document. It’s a foundation for a free society.

Our Constitution was constructed by men who were far better educated than most of today’s leaders. Their knowledge of history, particularly the history of governments and oppression, led them to develop foundation thinking that would serve to protect our freedoms and establish citizen control of our government.  The Constitution’s language is straightforward and simple, and my personal belief is that it should be taken at face value as much as possible. The history of “extending” the Constitution to stretch the intended meanings of various clauses, particularly the Commerce Clause, has led us far astray from what the founders intended, to our continuing detriment.

2. The government should not “provide” for us. It has nothing until it takes our resources away from us to give to others. It should assure and support an environment in which we can provide for ourselves. When the government "provides," it destroys incentives and leads to the eventual breakdown of our free economy. We should campaign for and support a rollback and eventual elimination of entitlements, and will publicize and resist regulations that are detrimental to a free market economy.

In reality, a close reading of the Constitution would clearly show that the government is not granted the power to dole out funds to people, regardless of their circumstances. Nor is it empowered to control our schools or underwrite our retirement or our health care.  These are government powers that have been manufactured over the last 75 years, and have led to a fractured society where everyone wants to “get theirs.”

3. Taxes should be as low as possible and should be spent as close to where they were raised as possible. The more layers of government our tax dollars go through, the less efficient they are. We should continually assess and make public where our taxes are raised and spent.

We continually hear from our state leaders that they want to use “federal money” for various projects. We receive federal grants with all sorts of requirements that we find objectionable. Our local elected officials continually complain that they can’t get money or cooperation from this or that state agency. Our entire system of government has become inverted, with the people who wield most of the power the farthest away from the people who should be able to control them.

4. We should enforce all laws. If we are unwilling to enforce a law, it isn’t really a law and should be repealed. As citizens, we must develop a list of such laws and press for their enforcement or repeal.

We have only to listen to the nightly newscast to hear of our President deciding not to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, or to grant “waivers” to Obamacare, or to decide not to deport illegal immigrants. The rule of law, which underwrites our freedoms, is being chipped away bit by bit. For a perspective on this read David Skeel's article in today's Wall Street Journal.

5. Government at all levels should be as small as possible and as accessible and transparent to the people as possible. We the people should facilitate this to the greatest degree possible.

When we ask government, particularly federal government, to “protect” us or to “provide” for us, we are setting up dependencies that rapidly turn into entitlements. Most federal elected officials, both Republican and Democrat, are happy to set up any program they think a majority of their constituents will like.  It keeps them being re-elected. We should not only not expect government to solve our problems or provide for us, we should also insist that it eliminate the programs already constructed.

Most readers will immediately be tempted to brand these as “Libertarian” or “Right-Wing” or “Conservative” or “Republican." That is not my intent. If anything they are idealistic. I would much prefer the readers to think about their personal relationship to government and begin to apply these as personal principles in evaluating what our political class says and does.

These Core Principles were proposed publicly to the Fulton County Republican Party’s Executive Committee, where they were unanimously approved and adopted. They can be viewed on the homepage of their website at www.FultonGOP.org. I hope we can follow through with them in practice as well.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

No Name August 23, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Mike, Your articles give me much hope and encouragement that there is still some critical thinking going on. Keep up the good work. #1. Spot on. We suffer from what some call cultural conceit or what C. S. Lewis calls chronological snobbery. We need more humble leaders that will learn from the past. #2. ...And if in doubt, read the Federalist Papers and it will leave no doubt of the intent. Also Frederic Bastiat's classic (The Law) should be required reading for every student of government. #3, 4 Yes and yes. #5. The God-ordained purpose of civil government is to punish the evildoer. As you say, we've added unnecessary layers that are out of scope of its intended purpose. You, sir, need to run for office. I'd vote for you in a heartbeat.
Dutch Mills August 23, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Here, here! Mike you are absolutely correct. In my opinion these are excellent rules by which to use as standards to judge the ideals and performance of those elected to public office. So good to hear the Fulton County GOP Executive Committee adopted.
Mike Lowry August 23, 2012 at 09:07 PM
A friend has pointed out that #2 could be misinterpreted to mean that I am against government providing things like fire protection or roads. I clearly mean that the government should not "provide" for us AS INDIVIDUALS.
Tom Cork August 23, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Excellent thinking and clearly stated!!!! When can we work on you campaign for a state level office????
Just Nasty and Mean August 24, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Perhaps we should approach our elected officials to sign an oath, much like the ethics bill being floated now. Regardless of if they sign it or not, we should access our elected leaders against these standards and vote accordingly.
Richard Arena August 24, 2012 at 10:04 AM
No Name has it right Mike - modern America suffers from "Chronological Snobbery"; the idea that we are smarter, wiser today than those who came before us. "Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws. - Plato (424 BC – 348 BC) “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” - John Adams ( 1735 - 1826 ) While Obama may be latest and most visible transgressor of the rule of law, he is by no means alone - one need not wander far from Roswell Square to find arrogant politicians gleefully gaming the system. What we really need are honorable, informed people in public office who, at the core of their being, understand that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed and that the fundamental purpose of government is to secure the God-given rights of the people.
Dianne August 24, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Mike, once again, you have hit the nail on the head. We are dealing with chronological snobbery in all of our governments, local, state and federal. I agree with those who have commented before me, and especially with what Richard Arena said in that we have fewer and fewer honorable and informed office holders now. We need more people like you running our country, who understand our history, the Constitution, our laws, and the intent our founding fathers had for this country. Great article!
Dianne August 24, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Richard........nicely said, and especially spot on in your next to last paragraph.

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