Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


Founders and Progressives

Saturday's Wall Street Journal runs a very good op-ed by Peter Berkowitz on how right the Tea Party movement is in being interested in limited government (also how the left has misunderstood this) and how much that is in line with the supporters of the Constitution, the Federalists.  He ends up on decrying the fact in universities politics is badly taught. "Indeed, even as the tea party calls for the return to constitutional basics, our universities neglect The Federalist and its classic exposition of constitutional principles."  He continues:

For the better part of two generations, the best political science departments have concentrated on equipping students with skills for performing empirical research and teaching mathematical models that purport to describe political affairs. Meanwhile, leading history departments have emphasized social history and issues of race, class and gender at the expense of constitutional history, diplomatic history and military history.

Neither professors of political science nor of history have made a priority of instructing students in the founding principles of American constitutional government. Nor have they taught about the contest between the progressive vision and the conservative vision that has characterized American politics since Woodrow Wilson (then a political scientist at Princeton) helped launch the progressive movement in the late 19th century by arguing that the Constitution had become obsolete and hindered democratic reform.

Of course, it will not surprise you to know that we do things differently here, both at the undergraduate and graduate level.

Categories > Education

Discussions - 1 Comment

It seem clear to me that the Founders intended for the average citizen/voter to read and understand the Constitution. It was not written to be the special purview of lawyers, SCOTUS justices, and soi-disant Constitutional scholars. The average citizen was expected to hold his legislators accountable to the Constitution, and vote them out if they did not follow it to the letter.

However, nowadays the average citizen today couldn't begin to tell you in any meaningful sense what the Constitution says and how it is supposed to limit the Federal gov't. Even amongst 'conservatives' this is often the case. E.g., Social Security/Medicare is clearly a grossly unConstitutional imposition of Federal power. It seems clear from the available documents that Roosevelt and many others at the time, including many on the SCOTUS, knew it to be so, but voted it in anyway. Now it is political suicide to be against it, even tho' it is painfully obvious that it is nearing disaster. We can blame the 'progressives', but 'we have met the enemy and he is us'.

We need our young people to read and understand the Constitution, and demand that we return the Federal Gov't to the strictures it imposes. If that does not happen in time, the Republic is doomed.

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