Jewish World Review Nov. 10, 1999 /1 Kislev, 5760
On Democracy and Liberty
LAST WEEK, Republicans won outright control of Virginia's General Assembly.
Retaining their Senate majority and winning the House of Delegates is a
Republican first in the history of the Commonwealth. Republican Gov. James
S. Gilmore III celebrated the election news saying: "Free at last. Free at
last. Free at long last. Democracy has finally come to the Commonwealth."
I'm hoping that Gilmore simply misspoke when he said democracy and really
meant liberty has finally come to the Commonwealth. Democracy and liberty
are not the same. Democracy is little more than mob rule, while liberty
refers to the sovereignty of the individual. The pursuit of liberty was the
goal of Virginia's most distinguished citizens, such as: Thomas Jefferson,
James Madison, George Mason and others who descended upon Philadelphia in
1787 to write a constitution that set the framework for our nation to become
the world's freest and richest.
Republicans love to blame Democrats for high taxes, regulation and runaway
government saying, "Only if we controlled the legislative and executive
branches of government, things would be different." Republicans in the
Commonwealth of Virginia now control the legislative and executive branches
of government; what it will mean?
For example, will it mean that Richmond will stop confiscating the earnings
of one Virginian and giving them to another Virginian to whom they do not
belong? Will it mean that Richmond will stop playing favorites with its
different citizens through occupational- and business-licensing laws? Will
it mean that those who benefit from a Commonwealth-produced service also pay
For the Republicans to provide the kind of moral leadership to answer those
questions in ways Virginia's most distinguished statesmen would have
answered them will be quite a challenge.
There is another issue far more challenging. I'd raise it in the form of a
question to the governor and General Assembly: Do you believe the federal
government has exceeded its constitutional authority in its relationship
with the Commonwealth? It's probably not going to take rocket science for
them to agree that Congress has trashed the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.
Then I'd remind them of what their predecessors said in 1788 when they
ratified the U.S. Constitution: "We the delegates of the people of Virginia
... do in the name and on the behalf of the people of Virginia, declare and
make known, that the powers granted under the Constitution being derived
from the people of the United States, may be resumed by them whensoever the
same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression, and that every power
not granted thereby remains with them, and at their will. That therefore no
right, of any denomination, can be canceled, abridged, restrained or
modified by the Congress, by the Senate, or House of Representatives, acting
in any capacity, by the President, or any department or officer of the
United States, except in those instances where power is given by the
Constitution for those purposes."
Thatís a crystal-clear message; the Virginia delegates didn't mince words.
They said the authority granted to the federal government was derived from
the people. When the federal government abused and perverted that authority,
the people of Virginia had the right to take it back. Thereís no question
that the federal government has exceeded its constitutional authority. The
question is whether today's leaders of the Virginia Commonwealth have the
morality, guts and statesmanship of their predecessors to do anything about
Virginia's going to provide us with a laboratory experiment to test whether
Republican control makes any difference in terms of liberty and limited
government. I wonder how it's going to turn
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©1999, Creators Syndicate