The Smallest Minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities. - Ayn Rand
Read "Dear Mr. Obama", Kevin. I think you'll like it.
Indeed I did!
The dilemma posed by the rule of law is that the law must remain static in order to deliver a predictable outcome - but fairness, justice and morality are constantly moving targets. This means the law, even when soundly written and consistently interpreted, cannot be relied upon to produce fair, just or moral outcomes 100% of the time.
Most Americans recognize this shortcoming of the rule of law, but for the sake of predictability and social peace they are willing to accept the occasional bad result - as long as they're not the ones getting screwed. But once you get a critical mass of people who have gotten screwed (or are afraid of getting screwed) in this manner by the rule of law, all bets are off.
This is what Barack Obama is trying to tap into, with his stated preference for fairness over law in the courts. He seems to think we've already reached that critical mass of people fed up with the rule of law. If he's right, then the fate of America as we have known it is already sealed. But I don't think he is right, not yet, and furthermore I still suspect he will learn this the hard way five days from now.
We have come to a clearer realization of the fact, however, that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. Necessitous men are not free men. People who are hungry, people who are out of a job, are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
Kevin, this belief is not so foreign to that Founding Fathers as you presume. One of the crucial debates between Jefferson's faction and Hamilton's was over trade policy and the tariffs. There was a widespread belief, grounded in civic republicanism, that only an economic system that featured self-sufficient yeomen farmers could produce good citizens.
I may have mentioned it before, but you should read Michael Sandel's Democracy's Discontent. You will surely disagree with some of it, as I do, but it has completely changed my understanding of the Founding Fathers' beliefs.
Kevin, this belief is not so foreign to that Founding Fathers as you presume.
I didn't mean to leave that impression. I'm quite aware, as were the Founders and Marx, that people generally want security more than they want freedom. The difference is whether the government provides the food and the jobs, or the environment where food and jobs are available.
That's a big difference.
See today's "Quote of the Day."
Could this be summed up as "Locke vs: Rousseau, round two"?
Well, Sowell makes it "Aristotle vs. Plato," but yes, it's the same philosophical divide.
I find it fascinating that Markadelphia hasn't chimed in on this comment thread to defend the Obamessiah.