Thomas Sowell

Editors note: Read Part I Part II, Part III

Dismantling America: Part IV

How did we get to the point where many people feel that the America they have known is being replaced by a very different kind of country, with not only different kinds of policies but very different values and ways of governing?

Something of this magnitude does not happen all at once or in just one administration in Washington. What we are seeing is the culmination of many trends in many aspects of American life that go back for years.

Neither the Constitution of the United States nor the institutions set up by that Constitution are enough to ensure the continuance of a free, self-governing nation. When Benjamin Franklin was asked what members of the Constitution Convention were creating, he replied, "A republic, madam, if you can keep it."

In other words, a Constitutional government does not depend on the Constitution but on us. To the extent that we allow clever people to circumvent the Constitution, while dazzling us with rhetoric, the Constitution will become just a meaningless piece of paper, as our freedoms are stolen from us, much as a pick-pocket would steal our wallet while we are distracted by other things.

It is not just evil people who would dismantle America. Many people who have no desire to destroy our freedoms simply have their own agendas that are singly or collectively incompatible with the survival of freedom.

Someone once said that a democratic society cannot survive for long after 51 percent of the people decide that they want to live off the other 49 percent. Yet that is the direction in which we are being pushed by those who are promoting envy under its more high-toned alias of "social justice."

Those who construct moral melodramas-- starring themselves on the side of the angels against the forces of evil-- are ready to disregard the Constitution rights of those they demonize, and to overstep the limits put on the powers of the federal government set by the Constitution.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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