What The Founders Intended

5 June 2004

It takes some reading of history to understand what was intended by the Founders of this nation. What had influenced those men? What had they read? What events in history were on their minds as the Constitution was drafted?

This past week I got a few questions about the labels people like to put on themselves and others. There’s a real danger there. Some simply won’t have it any other way. They’re like the armies of yesteryear. They want to insure they have on their uniform, and they identify enemies by the color of their uniforms.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where enemies don’t raise their hands and say, identify me this way. There are no blue and gray uniforms. There aren’t any red or blue uniforms. In the arena of ideas, enemies and allies are identified by other means. In the war on terrorism we face an enemy that raises cowardice to a new height.

The mass media likes the labels of conservative and liberal. They like to pinpoint Democrats and Republicans. What’s missing is any kind of deliberate study of what our Founders were attempting to put together during the formative stages of this nation.

So, what is a small ”L” libertarian? What is a ”classical liberal?” Most people who fall into either of these classifications are also ”critical thinkers,” a skill that has almost been lost. Instead of carefully thinking through each and every issue or idea using a mental latticework of disciplines, people simply determine which side is espousing something and align or oppose accordingly. In other words, if you’re a Republican and Al Gore says something, then it can’t possibly be right. If you’re a Democrat and Dick Cheney says something, there’s no way you could agree with him.

Our mental models must start allowing for the ”law of unintended consequences.” An example might be found in welfare. If welfare is a product of too many years of paternalistic views of government, and we now have far too many people living off the wealth of a few, then something must be done. However, false starts at dismantling or wrong approaches might lead to a set of consequences unforeseen by the staunch opponents of welfare.

A critical thinker’s mental latticework brings an understanding of multiple disciplines into play. You can learn a lot more about how to build your own mental latticework by reading here.

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