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.