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Free Advice: The Constitution is our strongest check against tyranny

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posted on Nov, 1 2004 @ 10:26 AM
Washington warns that government tends to encroach on freedom and consolidate power: "A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position." The federal government’s assault on private property is just one example of this today.

he warns, allows "cunning, ambitious and unprincipled men" to take power illegitimately by force or fraud. Americans must guard against the "the spirit of innovation" that desires to circumvent or ignore the principles of our Constitution—the spirit that now dominates in our courts, legal system and law schools.

Washington warns of "the baneful effects of the Spirit of Party" and the problem of factionalism. But the political parties of today have virtually no connection with those of 1796: what they called parties we call "interest groups."

Washington was concerned about the excessive political passions that overpower reason and bring out the worst aspects of popular government. This doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be passion in politics, or that those with passionate opinions should withdraw from political discourse. It means that political passions, like all passions, should be moderated by better motives: "A fire not to be quenched; it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest instead of warming it should consume."

While partisanship is rooted in human nature, it should not come to dominate our politics to the exclusion of our reason. Washington reminds us that fundamental change in a free government is not by clever strategies, "hot button" issues or attack ads but by principled deliberation and persuasion.

The Constitution creates the framework for good government. But it only works if the people themselves are capable of self-government.


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