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A 4th of July Lament

July 4, 2022

American politics has been in decline since “Progressives” forced acceptance of the 17th Amendment on threat of convening a Constitutional Convention that would re-write the Constitution of 1787.

The 17th Amendment provided for direct election of U.S. Senators and introduced “ideology” as a factor in election of the U.S. Senate.

James Piereson’s important essay in the Weekly Standard tracked the influence of these “Progressives” who became socially dominant at the end of the 19th century. They were critics of the classical liberalism of Adam Smith and rejected the Scottish “common sense” of the Scottish Enlightenment and British empiricism. Gone, Piereson writes, were David Hume, Adam Smith, Thomas Reid, Adam Ferguson, James Beattie, and Dugald Stewart. In their place stepped Thorstein Veblen (economics), John Dewey (philosophy), Charles Beard (history) and Oliver Wendell Holmes (law). Piereson observes that “these thinkers were not only academics but more importantly graduates of the new university.”

All believed that the Constitution was “inadequate to the challenge of modern life.”

Throw away the philosophy of limited government fixed in the Constitution by the Framers, provide for direct election of U.S. Senators, abolish the electoral college, expand the Supreme Court and Progressive ideology will have achieved its aims. Unfortunately, that end will not be a beginning but the last moments of democracy in America.

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