A Progressive Declaration of Self-Evident Truths

As Conservatives, we all know and revere the preamble to the Founders’ Declaration of Independence, perhaps the greatest political statement in the history of mankind, attributed to Thomas Jefferson:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed —

These self-evident truths lie at the core of our Constitution and Conservatism.  They are what mathematicians and philosophers call axiomatic.  In other words, they are acknowledged to be unprovable, but they are presumed and accepted as true (hence “self-evident”), and they are the starting point for whatever follows — in this case, the remainder of the Declaration and later the Constitution itself.

So …

If these are the self-evident truths of Conservatism, what are the self-evident truths of Progressivism?  I’ve never seen them offered up or written down in concise Jeffersonian style.  Perhaps there are bits and pieces available in the writings of Karl Marx.  Perhaps from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs is an example of a Progressive* self-evident truth.  Perhaps some of our Progressive readers can enlighten us(?).

In the absence of guidance from Progressives themselves, we are left to infer the self-evident truths of Progressivism by working backwards from observations of their statements and behaviors.  That’s what I try to do in this article.

Of course, we’re not entirely without clues. For example, Progressives like Barack Obama have told us that the Constitution is fundamentally flawed because it focuses too much on what the government cannot do to us and not enough about what the government must do for us.  As Obama has put it:

… the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties, says what the states can’t do to you, says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf.

This is a helpful clarification.  For over 100 years, Progressives in America have been marching to the same drummer’s beat that Obama hears.  From Obama’s statement and my amateur observations of Progressive behaviors for several decades, I offer up the following to Progressives and Conservatives alike for their comment:

Progressive Declaration
of Self-Evident Truths

We hold these Truths to be self-evident:

  1. That all people are created equal,
  2. That they are endowed by The State with certain inalienable rights,
  3. That among these are Liberty, Equality, and Social Justice,
  4. That Equality includes life-long human rights to food, shelter, clothing, education, and health care,
  5. That to pursue Equality, The State may confiscate wealth from those who have it and redistribute it among those who don’t,
  6. That to pursue Social Justice, The State may constrain Liberty and Equality for some groups as reparations for past injustices suffered by other groups.

 

What follows are my notes on how I chose these six explicit clauses to represent the self-evident truths of Progressivism:

Clause 1:
In this clause, “all people are created equal” is used to avoid the allegedly sexist “all men are created equal” in the Founders’ Declaration.  A lesser point perhaps, but I’m trying to think as a Progressive would, right from the get-go, and then stay “in character” for the discussion of the remaining five clauses.

Clause 2:
In this clause, the phrase The Statetakes the place of the wordCreatorin the Founders’ Declaration.  All mention of God or a Creator is expunged in the Progressive Declaration, thereby avoiding any dual loyalties or competition with The State.  Religion is not explicitly forbidden, but neither is it mentioned or encouraged.  It may be tolerated so long as The State feels unthreatened by it, but The State is always the final arbiter in these matters.

In a Progressive’s world, Clause 2 has significant advantages.  For example, the current conflict over Government-mandated contraceptive coverage in employer-provided health care would be instantly resolved in favor of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and the aggrieved party named Sandra Fluke.  Similarly, all the long-running controversies over religious displays on government-owned property would be resolved quite simply — The State’s word would be final.

Most importantly, since all fundamental rights are endowed by The State, they can be limited or withdrawn by The State.  This becomes important in Clause 6.

Clause 3:
The Founders’ Declaration lists Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness as inalienable rights.  In the Progressive Declaration, “Life” does not appear at all.  This is another convenience for The State since abortion rights would be much easier to declare and maintain if Life were not an unalienable right.  Thus, it would no longer matter whether a fetus does or does not constitute “life”.  The State decides. Simple, no? In fact, if The State were to allow it, abortion rights might even extend to infanticide in the first 30 days of baby’s life, as proposed by some, or up to 2 years as proposed by another.  End-of-life decisions or euthanasia for the elderly or handicapped would also be much easier for The State to control.  Do you see the pattern?

Similarly, “pursuit of Happiness” in the Founders’ Declaration is replaced by “Social Justice”.  By including this phrase in the Progressive Declaration, the grand utopian Social Justice vision of Progressive luminaries like the self-avowed communist Van Jones is explicitly elevated to an unalienable right.  And what could be “happier” than that?

Clause 4:
When I wrote this clause, I was motivated in part by an email I received a few months ago from a self-declared Democrat/Socialist.  In it, he asked: “What is the purpose of government if not to ensure that everyone has a decent standard of living?” I’ve seldom heard the Progressive cause put so plainly and clearly.

Of course the constitutions of the European Union and South Africa already explicitly list “human rights” similar to those in Clause 4.  So by including that clause in the Progressive Declaration, the path is paved for modernization or outright replacement of our own Constitution, as implied by Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg during her recent interview in Egypt.

Of course, there is one big problem with Clause 4 — how do we achieve it?   Enter Clause 5.

Clause 5:
Clause 5 explicitly lists a principle that Progressives have implicitly followed since the beginning of the movement — that is, to achieve Clause 4, confiscate wealth from the makers and give it to the takers.

By following this principle, ostensibly out of “compassion” and “fairness”, Progressives can win the support of the takers until there are so many of them that they can out-vote, out-shout, or out-threaten the makers.  As the takers demand more and more, the makers produce less and less as they lose incentive to create new wealth only to see it confiscated.  Eventually some of them go on a de facto “strike” as the industrialists did in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged.  Soon thereafter, Progressives run out of other people’s money and resources.

There follows some combination of civil unrest, rationing, martial law, starvation, tyranny, and virtual slavery to The State. It has happened many times in many places.  WesternFreePress.com recently interviewed three direct eye witnesses (here, here, and here). Yet Progressives keep trying despite all evidence that their beloved principles simply don’t work.

In particular, in our own time, no doubt borne of compassion and fairness, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest on US debt now consume all of our federal tax revenue, and our government is frantically borrowing over $4.7 billion per day to make up the shortfall for those expenses plus everything else.

Our plight is getting worse faster and faster as over 10,000 baby boomers retire every day.  And there is no way to tax or confiscate enough wealth to resolve the situation for long. This brutal truth  is shown clearly by Bill Whittle, with his usual wry humor, at this link.  Nonetheless, Progressives keep plodding along, demonizing “the rich” as the source of, as well as the solution to, our gargantuan economic woes.

Clause 5 appeals so much to base human emotions that Progressive politicians like Barack Obama exploit it to their political advantage through class-envy initiatives like the “Buffett Rule“, and “Fair Share“.  Unlike a precious few stalwarts in Congress, Obama simply refuses to confront the accounting arithmetic that is staring him in the face. He and his party perpetuate the myth that taxing the rich “just a little more” will solve the problem.  And the media never call him on it.  And the beat goes on.

Clause 6:
Clause 6 explicitly permits violation of Clauses 1 and 3 in some politically motivated circumstances in order to achieve a State-controlled version of EqualitySome current examples of Clause 6 in operation are Democrat tolerance for voter fraud, government-mandated purchase of health insurance, and Eric Holder’s infamous race-based pursuit of justice.

So …

There it is then, a Progressive Declaration of Self-Evident Truths.  But this is just a first draft.  What do you think?  Have I got it wrong?  Have I left something out?  You can enter your comments below.

Even though Progressivism has failed dismally from its very earliest days in America, it is now making a comeback thanks to the Democrat Party, hijacked by the Left after John F. Kennedy died.  It will soon swamp all of us — unless, that is, we can stop them on November 6 and begin a restoration and renewal of the principles in our original Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

In the words of Shane F. Krauser, JD,

The Constitution is the not the problem.
It is emphatically the answer.

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* Footnote: I use the term “Progressive” in this article to represent the broad mass of political thought that has variously been called Progressive / Liberal / Leftist / Socialist / Collectivist / Statist / Redistributionist / Communist or some other name.  These are not all synonymous I know, and as usual, some readers will prefer to pick at the definitions of these terms rather than address the main point of this article. Suffice it to say I use “Progressive” because “Liberal” has fallen out of favor with the Left, and “Progressive” now seems to be the most broadly accepted term for those on the Left side of the political spectrum.

Justice Ginsberg Tells Egypt: Don’t Look to US for Your New Constitution

In my high school US History class (circa 1964) I recall implicit reverence expressed for the United States Supreme Court. Now, unfortunately, after seeing Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s appearance on Egyptian TV (video below), I can’t help feeling a bit like Dorothy when the curtain was pulled back on the Wizard of Oz. What a letdown. Sigh. On the other hand, Ginsberg did give us another powerful demonstration of how thoroughly Leftism has infected the highest levels of our government.

Why did Justice Ginsberg do this interview in the first place?

First, did she really think Egyptians would honor the opinion of a woman, an American, and a Jew? Isn’t that a hatred trifecta for Egypt’s vaunted Muslim Brotherhood as well as the “Arab Street”? Remember what happened to Lara Logan during the “Arab Spring” demonstrations? Why consent to an interview at all? Did she really think she’d reflect well on herself, the Supreme Court, or our country with this interview? It ended up being rather the opposite, I’d say.

Second, if Justice Ginsberg really must draw back that Wizard-of-Oz-like SCOTUS curtain, could she at least have shown a bit more respect and praise for the Constitution that she swore to preserve, protect, and defend? Evidently not.

Said Ginsberg to the Egyptians:

I would not look to the US Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.

I might look at the constitution of South Africa. That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights, had an independent judiciary … it really is, I think, a great piece of work that was done.

Much more recent than the US Constitution, Canada has a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It dates from 1982. You would almost certainly look at the European Convention on Human Rights.

Well, thank you, Madame Justice. I had no idea how inferior our Constitution was to Europe’s, Canada’s, and South Africa’s. And how noble and courageous you have been to suffer our dusty old Constitution so stoically for nearly 20 years.

But perhaps I do the Justice an injustice. What is it that Ginsberg finds so attractive in those other constitutions? Given her comments, I infer it must have something to do with what she means by “human rights”. So I looked first to the South Africa Constitution since Ginsberg singled it out as a “great piece of work.” It’s available online.

The first thing I noticed about the SA Constitution (1996) is its sheer size. The US Constitution is only 4400 words long, but the SA Constitution is over 43,700 words long. Much more stuff. And more means better? Anyway, it’s so big that I could never have read it all, so I focused mainly on Chapter 2, the SA Bill of Rights.

Our American Bill of Rights is rather short — just those first ten tersely worded amendments. The SA Bill of Rights is over 4600 words long and contains 33 major headings. Among these are many noble and proper declarations somewhat like our own, but there are others — namely, the ones that I presume Justice Ginsberg admires. Three in particular declare the following (with my emphasis added) as the supreme law of the land in South Africa:

24. Environment — Everyone has the right:

(a) to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and

(b) to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that

(i) prevent pollution and ecological degradation;
(ii) promote conservation; and
(iii) secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

…..

26. Housing:

(1) Everyone has the right to have access to adequate housing.

(2) The state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to achieve the progressive realisation of this right.

(3) No one may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished, without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances. No legislation may permit arbitrary evictions.

27. Health care, food, water and social security:

(1) Everyone has the right to have access to:

(a) health care services, including reproductive health care;
(b) sufficient food and water; and
(c) social security, including, if they are unable to support themselves and their dependants, appropriate social assistance.

(2) The state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to achieve the progressive realisation of each of these rights.

(3) No one may be refused emergency medical treatment.

Isn’t this nice? What’s not to like? It sounds like an Occupy-Wall-Streeter’s paradise. It sounds like the promises made whenever socialism has been sold to a hopeful and unsuspecting populace. It reads as does the European Union Constitution, where attempts to deliver on promises like these threaten to collapse whole economies and lead to massive civil unrest.

Note that nowhere in the SA Constitution does it say that SA “rights” are to be conferred by any means other than those of “The State”. At virtually every turn, The State is the implied guarantor, provider, and benefactor.

However …

Note also the remarkable Item (2) in italics under Headings 26 and 27 above. The phrase “within its available resources” is a convenient way for The State to renege on the associated promised right. I interpret that clause in italics to mean: If we cannot squeeze enough money from selfish South African ‘makers’ to cover our promises to South African ‘takers, then this ‘human right’ may not be fulfilled after all. The State has few resources of its own, you see. So if these promises don’t come true, please remember to blame the selfish ‘makers’, not The State.

Note also the use of the interesting phrase “progressive realization”. What do they mean by “progressive”? It could mean gradual, which gives the state a way to put off demands for all these guaranteed freebies. Or it could mean Progressive in the political sense, which implies heavy taxation on those wealthy makers and little or no taxation on the takers. Either or both can help prolong The State’s hold on power.

So I’m left wondering whether Justice Ginsberg admires those SA Constitution human rights promises or those weasel-worded escape phrases. Perhaps it’s both(?).

Of course our own Bill of Rights is fundamentally different. Ours is about what the Federal Government cannot do to us rather than what it must do for us. To a Leftist like President Obama, we know that sounds like a defect — he’s told us so. But Conservatives know that the American approach has led to the most prosperous populace, at all economic levels, in the history of the world. And similar approaches have worked well in other places (albeit to varying degrees) such as Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, and Chile.

On the other hand, where the Left has had free reign and made the grandest of promises, like those in the South African Constitution, the results have been horrific beyond belief. Just listen to people who have lived through it in the 20th century (here, here, and here).

Scanning through the South African Constitution I found several other areas that may have attracted Justice Ginsberg’s admiring eye. To limit the length of this article, I’ll include just one more … namely, an amazing provision in “Chapter 1, Founding Provisions” that reads:

6. Languages

(1) The official languages of the Republic are Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa and isiZulu.

(2) Recognising the historically diminished use and status of the indigenous languages of our people, the state must take practical and positive measures to elevate the status and advance the use of these languages.

(3) (a) The national government and provincial governments may use any particular official languages for the purposes of government, taking into account usage, practicality, expense, regional circumstances and the balance of the needs and preferences of the population as a whole or in the province concerned; but the national government and each provincial government must use at least two official languages.
(b) Municipalities must take into account the language usage and preferences of their residents.

(4) The national government and provincial governments, by legislative and other measures, must regulate and monitor their use of official languages. Without detracting from the provisions of subsection (2), all official languages must enjoy parity of esteem and must be treated equitably.

(5) A Pan South African Language Board established by national legislation must
(a) promote, and create conditions for, the development and use of (i) all official languages; (ii) the Khoi, Nama and San languages; and (iii) sign language ; and
(b) promote and ensure respect for (i) all languages commonly used by communities in South Africa, including German, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Portuguese, Tamil, Telegu and Urdu; and (ii) Arabic, Hebrew, Sanskrit and other languages used for religious purposes in South Africa.

In short, South Africa has 11 “official” languages and a Language Board that “promotes” 15 more. To a poor, benighted soul like me, this sounds like a politically correct polyglot run amok, but perhaps this too won Justice Ginsberg’s approval?

Well …

The Left, including Barack Obama, still loves to portray its socialist leanings as some sort of new, forward-looking, if-only-we’d-try-it philosophy of government that will finally bring us all social justice and fairness. But given its cataclysmic failures and atrocities in the 20th century, I’d say that Leftism and Socialism are both long past their sell-by date.

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The road to serfdom begins with the belief you can overcome natural differences to create a tie at the finish line of life.
Herbert London