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Vail Daily letter: Presidential imaginations

Robert Hemmerich
Vail, CO, Colorado
newsroom@vaildaily.com

On President’s Day, I wondered if we could imagine President Obama giving this message early on in his campaign for president:

“The Constitution gives the federal government no right to interfere in the conduct of public utilities, of banks, of insurance, of business, of agriculture, of education, of social welfare, and of a dozen other important features.In these, Washington must not be encouraged to interfere. … The doctrine of regulation and legislation by ‘master minds’ in whose judgment and will all the people may gladly and quietly acquiesce, has been too glaringly apparent at Washington during these past years.

“Were it possible to find ‘master minds’ so unselfish, so willing to decide unhesitatingly against their own personal interests or private prejudices, men almost god-like in their ability to hold the scales of Justice with an even hand, such a government might be to the interest of the country, but there are none such in our political horizon, and we cannot expect a complete reversal of all the teachings of history.

“Now to bring about government by oligarchy masquerading as democracy, it is fundamentally essential that practically all authority and control be centralized in our national government.The individual sovereignty of our states must first be destroyed, except in mere minor matters of legislation.

“We are safe from the danger of any such departure from the principles on which this country was founded just so long as the individual home rule of the states is scrupulously preserved and fought for whenever it seems in danger. …

“On such a small foundation have we erected the whole enormous fabric of federal government which costs us $3.5 billion every year, and if we do not hold this steady process of building commissions and regulatory bodies and special legislation like huge inverted pyramids over every one of the simple constitutional provisions, we shall soon be spending many billions of dollars more. …

“But what are the underlying principles on which this government is founded? There is, first and foremost, the new thought that every citizen is entitled to live his own life in his own way as long as his conduct does not injure any of his fellow men.”

These words were spoken in a very important speech by Gov. Franklin Delano Roosevelt of New York, on March 2, 1930.

I wonder if it is possible for future presidents to have such a view for limited government. Did FDR really believe what he spoke? Or was he just manipulating the public with words over the leftward drift of the Hoover administration for political advantage? We will never know. Remember, you will know a tree by its fruit.

Robert Hemmerich


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