“Yes, ‘anti-political politics’ is possible. Politics ‘from below’. Politics of man, not of the apparatus. Politics growing from the heart, not from a thesis. It is not an accident that this hopeful experience has to be lived just here, on this grim battlement. Under the ‘rule of everydayness’ we have to descend to the very bottom of a well before we can see the stars . . . ”
New York: Grenfell Press, 1991.
Illustrated by Gregory Amenoff, Joe Andoe, James Brown, Vija Celmins, Louisa Chase, Eric Fischl, Jan Hashey, Michael Hurson, Mel Kendrick, James Nares, Ellen Phelan, Joel Shapiro, Kiki Smith, David Storey, Michelle Stuart, Richard Tuttle, Trevor Winkfield, and Robin Winters.
This collection of thirty-six original fables and prose poems, each of them centered on a different animal, began as a whimsical writing exercise whose sole goal was to entertain the author and his friends. From the whale to the skunk, the mongoose to the tortoise and hare, and even bringing to the page less obvious “beasts” such as plankton, anemones, and a monkey prince—the book soon developed into a full-fledged menagerie of tales including everything from a creation myth to a meditation on death . . .
SARASOTA, Fla. — Johnny the sea turtle has traveled more than many people do. But the journey that took him from the Gulf of Mexico to Europe and back isn’t over yet.
The 68-pound, rare Kemp’s ridley turtle was released into the Gulf on Tuesday morning near Sarasota. About 300 people stood on the beach to bid Johnny farewell as he swam off into the surf off Lido Key.
I respect his Ph.D. and Larry P. Arnn’s post-graduate work at the London School of Economics and Oxford University as well as his experience being President of Hillsdale College. At the same time I would respectfully query a number of his opinions in “The Unity and Beauty of the Declaration and the Constitution.” The interview by Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution was recently published in Imprimis(Dec. 2011.).*
Some important issues should be mentioned.
First, I was drawn to this article out of my ongoing desire to understand what true conservatives are and how they would mold our country in the future. The current primary race lacks depth on that score. Second, let me be clear that I have no desire to trash the work of our Founding Fathers. If not infallible, these documents are certainly precious. However, the Founding Fathers did have in mind the amendment of the Constitution, carefully and cautiously over time. Sooner or later, one has to deal with culture changed by Darwin, quantum physics, and the salience of relative over absolute thinking. I mean that what good is learning if we do not apply it. And none of this makes the existence of God impossible. In fact I read somewhere that the “God particle” does not preclude something akin to deism.
Arnn says that never forgetting the formidable risks and challenges of the American Revolution, we should not oversimplify the 18th Century in contrast to our own issues in the 21st. Nevertheless, the Founding Fathers knew nothing of the industrial revolution, two mechanized world wars and proliferation of nuclear arsenals. Arnn speaks of the health care bureaucracy that will inundate the dollar value of society itself. The Founders also knew nothing of the great potential of medical research and the practice of medicine. He speaks of rule-making bureaucracy that threatens to destroy freedom and liberty as though the costs and complexities of health care do not threaten to bankrupt the middle class.
The solution to our constitutional challenges for Arnn seem to be a return to prudence and principle in the neo-classical style of the Enlightenment which will triumph over tyrannical rules imposed by big government. He cites a 500-page volume of rules regulating education. Then he recommends the example of Hillsdale College based on an honor system and a few good principles. Would that every young American could have such an elite education! There is no mention of the huge challenges successfully met and being met still by land-grant institutions. huge bureaucracies, that advance the Jeffersonian ideal — all of it with huge tax subsidies.
While it was an interview of very specific questions, there seems to me to be some major constitutional issues that never came up. For one I mention the possibility that the professional lobbies holding our Congress in thrall comes down to a constitutional question. Have we not effectively a fourth, ad hoc branch of government, totally unanticipated by the Founding Fathers. The Norquist pledge especially is an extra-governmental power capable of abrogating the oath of office taken by constitutionally elected representatives of The People. If representatives want to vote no, they should vote no, but an oath to always close one’s mind is anti-intellectual, illogical and irresponsible. Representatives are accountable to themselves, voters at home and the Constitution. Oaths to God and country are one thing. An oath to a lobbyist is quite another. And we’re not talking about the Boy Scout Oath here.
I mention also, corporations that have the legal personhood of one, but that employ hundreds. I presume that political opinion comes from the Board of Directors and the stockholders. Fine. Companies may say that the individual opinions of employees come out in the wash of election day. However, the real issue is whether or not the unlimited billions of political donations now permitted by the Supreme Court gives the “people” of corporations unfair advantage — due solely to the power to buy and sell elected officials. Money talks. Corporate money talks louder than John Doe’s money. Corporations have much more vital, immediate leverage on politicians than any single voter. The further question is whether or not corporate lobbying, especially related to multi-nationals, impacts our constitutional democracy. Does the Constitution need to answer this matter? Does the Constitution need to strengthen the oath of office?
Finally, tyranny does not necessarily come from complexity and size. Our private health care system does not work in the free market due to its inelastic, limitless demand. Costs are totally out of control. More and more it falls into the hands of a few monopolistic corporations. These corporations are more than willing to make money on the Advantage plans for Medicare, so fears of socialism cease at the point of profit. I cannot see any other solution than the public option, if there is to be competition in the “free” market.
Further, in 1789 American citizens were totally fatalistic about longevity, especially healthy longevity. One lived a long life or she didn’t. He led a healthy life or a sickly one and fate played its hand. Millions fell dead in a furrow behind a plow. Not so today. Proper and early treatment can stave off fate for years. This blessing has become part of our “constitutional” makeup. Is it not clearly part of the pursuit of happiness — a mainstay of the common interest? (Why? Because these days longevity is possible.) If the answer is yes, then the matter is as constitutional as the right to education. Access to good health care should be no more wealth-based, than general education. It just didn’t happen to be an issue in 1789. It couldn’t possibly have been an issue. The promise of longevity for all was impossible.
By all means, let us have principles and prudence in all that we do. In the end leadership demands that we get our priorities right in a modern world in the pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness with equal justice for all.
Steadfast and cautious,
*Please note that the following applies to my link to Imprimis.
“Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.”
SUBSCRIPTION FREE UPON REQUEST.
Imprimis trademark registered in U.S.
Patent and Trade Office #1563325.
. . .” Lean toward risk. It’s trite, but apparently true. Many more seniors regret the risks they didn’t take than regret the ones they did. . . ”
I have not found many articles that precisely fit the the theme of this blog, but these do. Brooks reports of how experienced people regard life decisions, perseverance, rumination, “strategic self-delusion,” “relentless self-expansion,” rebellion, self-obsession, and having to make crucial decisions when we are twenty-somethings. It is all here. I cannot recommend any reading more enthusiastically than this series. Go to the link below. Good reading for young, middle-aged and senior Americans. The following link goes to both earlier and later responses.
Steadfast and cautious,