Carnival of Principled Government, A Founding Vision
In the Declaration of Independence, our Constitution and its defenses in the Federalist Papers, we find many principles which lay the foundation of our American Republic. These principles have been under attack since the death of George Washington, and with decreasing understanding of these principles, our foundation is beginning to erode as well. Dedicated to Liberty Day, the purpose of this carnival is to promote discussion of events, trends and ideas in light of these founding principles. Entries come from a variety of viewpoints, but all present ideas worthy of examining as we ponder the foundation we are leaving for future generations. Unless otherwise indicated (by EC for editor's choice), all blog entries were submitted by the authors.

We begin at the beginning, where our thoughts and attitudes are developed. Education is central to passing on not only our values and knowledge, but the very principles of government.
The education of youth is, in all governments, an object of the first consequence. The impressions received in early life usually form the characters of individuals, a union of which forms the general character of a nation.

--Noah Webster, On the Education of Youth in America, 1790
What kind of education are we giving our children, where does it originate and what are the likely outcomes? Julie from Perspectives From the Trail Less Traveled looks at Plato and his influence on our current culture as she asks, "Who's in charge?"

Approximately 1,000 years later, the settlers at Jamestown also struggled with taking responsibility for themselves. The well-bred settlers considered it beneath them to work, and had anticipated trading for all they needed. The communist system of redistribution of stores almost caused the entire settlement to fail due to starvation. Mandi of Under His Construction looks at some of the lessons learned from Jamestown, including the settlers failures and determination as she compares them to some more current struggles we are having as a nation.

On a similar theme, TFStern points out that obedience and self-restraint is liberty. I, too, am Christian and find the fullest expression of liberty in the person of Jesus Christ. We are all governed by something or someone. We achieve maximum liberty when we have the character and self-control to govern ourselves effectively. When we choose not to govern ourselves, we subordinate ourselves to those around us whom we allow to make decisions for us. In the extreme, unchecked lack of restraint leads to increased government as external authority is relied upon to control the individual.

THe BFU Journal takes a look at where our education is today with the recognition that changing the schools equates with changing the world. "The health of state authorized institutions," he argues, "has become dependent on the slavery of the people."

In The Coming Crisis in Citizenship, I take a look at the crisis in higher education and how the solutions offered by the US Department of Education will only make the real problems worse. TF Stern was kind enough to offer additional thoughts and emphasizes that these principles should first be taught in the home.

While 13 colonies recognized the deficiencies of the Articles of Confederation which had served as our first governing document, an interesting debate developed regarding the character of the government to be formed. The Constitution set up a federal system with shared powers between the several states and a strong central government. The original intent was to draw up a form of government which allowed for the necessary functions of the central government while preserving the liberty of the states. We seem to have strayed from this and followed the path foreseen by many of the writers of the anti-federalist papers.
It is as absurd to say, that the power of Congress is limited by these general expressions, "to provide for the common safety, and general welfare," as it would be to say, that it would be limited, had the constitution said they should have power to lay taxes, &c. at will and pleasure.

--"Brutus" Anti-Federalist IV, 1787
In a thoughtful post, Populist Party of America offers and examination of our federal system and its inherent benefits. Hearkening back to a familiar quotation often attributed to Thomas Jefferson, Franklin argues that the government which governs best, governs least.

Hell's Handmaiden takes a look at some of the issues which the anti-federalists warned against before the Constitution was even ratified: centralization and judicial tyranny.

To satisfy many of these protests, the Bill of Rights was finally included and came into effect in 1791. Interestingly, Alexander Hamilton argues that a Bill of Rights will lead to exactly the same problems that the anti-federalists were hoping to avoid in that they would provide "various exceptions to powers which were not granted." (Federalist 84)

This, perhaps, comes to the forefront in court rulings regarding the Bill of Rights. The Capetowndissentator, for example, looks at Parker v. D.C. and the second amendment, questioning what this decision has to do with a well-armed militia. Combs Spouts Off, on the other hand, views this decision as a definite second amendment victory (EC).

Grappling with issues from a darker period of our history, when neither the Constitution nor the Bill of Rights was extended to all Americans, Fort Wayne African-American Independent Woman discusses the significance of Barack Obama's standing on the steps of the state capital.

Article II, section 2 of the Constitution makes the President the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the US as well as of the militia of the several states. In arguing for a strong central government, however, one principle did not come up that I can find: the treatment of enemies in times of war. /etc/cron.whenever/ takes a look at the state secrets privilege as a possible overstepping of executive powers.

Rickey, on the other hand, would like to see a little more executive power and decisiveness. Either commit, or pull out.

Samson Blinded takes a look at how those who have benefited from our military force have returned the favor. It reminds me of Thomas Jefferson's vision that we should be for "free commerce with all nations, political connection with none..." (to Elbridge Gerry, 1799) Our peace time alliances do not seem to promote our interests very efficiently.

Character is a key issue in self-government, both of the people and our elected representatives. Too often, we excuse the immoral and sometimes even criminal behavior of those we have placed in office with the fatalistic determination that "that's just politics." On this theme, the feldman blog takes a look at ethics and presidential candidate Barack Obama.

When representatives act according to solid principles, great benefit can come to the people. Anja Merret offers a look at the basic principle of good stewardship in her South African home, which has led to a budget surplus. I've heard of them in state governments here in the US, but never on a national scale.

Many of our founders looked upon the formation of political parties early in our history with disdain. In fact, President George Washington formulated his farewell address to warn Americans against these rising factions. While the introduction to this text suggests that Washington did not understand political parties, the address itself foreshadows many of the problems we have in our system today.
It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another; foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passion. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

--George Washington's Farewell Address, 1796
"It" is party allegiance, and it has taken over the American political landscape. The Flada Blog takes a closer look at what ignoring Washington's warning has brought us as he looks at what is wrong with the two party system.

The Gonzo Papers also looks at the effects of this animosity in America's new division based on red-state, blue-state.

Walking the Berkshires also takes a look at party affiliation and conservation. Tim notes something I have said for a long time, namely that conservation is a conservative ideal. However, not every ideal needs to be legislated to be realized. (Just my two cents.) Also with an environmental topic, Phil for Humanity offers his primer for proving global warning. Technically, this debate probably does not really fit within the goals of this carnival, but I prefer to err on the side of inclusion, especially since I stand on the other side (EC) of it.

The central purpose of the Constitution was to limit government in the lives of its people. This founding principle was born of America's experience with Britain's rule and was echoed throughout most of the discussions of the newly founded nation and anchored in our founding documents. President Reagan reiterated it in his first Inaugural Address in 1981:
We are a nation that has a government—not the other way around. And this makes us special among the nations of the Earth. Our government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government, which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.

--Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address, 1981
This growth has led not only to an expansion of government influence in nearly every aspect of American life, but to an expectation that government can and should actively work to solve our problems. I wonder what our founders would have thought of this poster, hanging in my public library?

So now we legislate when and how our fellow citizens can engage in otherwise legal activities such as smoking. Brad Warbiany of the Liberty Papers offers his thoughts on the smoking ban in California.

Also, Judy Aron of Consent of the Governed put together a list of things that have been banned in her post, "Let's put a ban on banning things." (EC)

Reflections from a Rotting Nation reflects on an odd case. Personally, I'm not sure I put this in with personal liberty, but something does seem wrong with charging a child with this crime. Parents? Recipients? That would make more sense. (I generally assume that we are all adults and do not put too many warnings on links, but since this is a family-friendly, homeschooling site, I will warn whoever wishes to be warned that there is a mild sexual theme to the case).

One of the most inspiring ways a society preserves (and challenges) its principles is through great works of literature. American literature was in its infancy during the Revolutionary War, but the pen of Mercy Otis Warren served to dramatize the American conflict through her plays and poetry and encourage many of our founding fathers through her letters. John Adams writes of her, "of all the Genius’s which have yet arisen in America, there has been none superior."

In Passion, People and Principles, David Meister looks at an author who affected his views on personal responsibility, integrity, standards and relationships: Ayn Rand. While I, too, do not subscribe to all of her philosophy, The Fountainhead remains for me a sort of declaration of the spirit of the individual.

The Picket Line offers a fresh look at Henry David Thoreau. An admiration for soldiers? And warning that pacifism could lead to passivity? These are not ideas I normally associate with this American author.

Political cartoons are also a popular way to express ideas in a sometimes amusing and sometimes thought-provoking way. Several political cartoons from the Revolutionary War have been preserved and are available for viewing. They definitely capture the spirit of the age.

Pollytick' does not really offer anything with regards to the founding of our nation, but should you wish to exercise your First Amendment Right to free speech and express yourself through political cartoons, he offers a tutorial for creating political cartoons with your computer.

Michael Anuzis shares an idea for greater citizen participation in his podcast, "My Speech as President." It reminded me a bit of the emergent democracy discussion awhile back in connection with the perceived power of blogging to engage the citizenry.

Attesting perhaps to this power, the Global Conservative demonstrates how engaged citizens can contribute to their own government through his coverage of the Kent State jihad.

Also, a bit of satire from the Ominous Comma. I will confess, I don't get this one. But since it is late, I thought maybe it really is a stroke of genius that I am incapable of grasping at the moment.

Thank you for visiting the Carnival of Principled Government. Feel free to leave your thoughts, comments and corrections. If you have a post you would like to submit for the next edition, see here. If you would like to host an upcoming carnival (especially in April!), please email me.

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Happy Liberty Day!


Most clipart courtesy of Founding Fathers
Call of the Wild
Constitutional Convention
Jamestown Fort

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