In another attempt to mistakenly grab the mantle of the Founding generation, the better to cloak their anti-federalist intentions, the far right through Ed Morrissey of Hot Air seizes on a CNN poll showing that Americans “believe the federal government’s become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens.” He chalks it up to healthcare reform — a measure that hasn’t even passed yet — and seizes on it as a partisan conclusion:
The health-care initiative pushed by the Democrats would put the government into our most personal and private choices, greatly increasing the power of Washington and decreasing the liberty of Americans. After more than seven decades of increasingly statist policy, Americans have belatedly awoken to a crisis in liberty and a fiscal meltdown of the welfare state.
It’s surely not. Anyone who lived through the Bush years would also agree that federal power is a threat to basic liberty. It’s altogether telling, though, that Hot Air considers the question of whether one’s healthcare plan will have federally prescribed minima one of “our most personal and private choices,” while excluding from that definition anything related to truly personal choices like sex, marriage, and even what book to check out from the library, all of which were under even daily attack under the previous administration. Chalk this up to another attempt to exalt as the very definition of “liberty” whether one will be taxed, and on what those taxes will be spent.
As Americans, we can all agree that runaway federal power is dangerous, even as we disagree over what aspect ought to worry us the most. But when resolving that question, we should remember, in true fidelity to the Constitution’s drafters, that our current charter was deliberately drafted to strengthen the federal government as pertains to economic matters, thus replacing a central authority bereft, in practice, of any real authority to tax and regulate, on the explicit premise that a strong regulatory power, backed by a strong tax power, was necessary to preserve the union. The amount of ink spilled by men like Alexander Hamilton to defend the necessity of taxation (Federalists #30–36: the largest subject-matter bloc in the Papers) ought to prove that while worrying about taxes is a basic characteristic of American government, so is paying, gladly, to support a union in which we all believe.