Wednesday, March 21, 2012

J.L. Bell Rips Romney's Use of the Founding Fathers

It would be nice to see a politician get the Founders right.  (Or at least offer an interpretation of the founding generation that is somewhere in the ballpark).  Unfortunately, getting the Founders right may not always be a good political move.  J.L. Bell, writing at his blog Boston 1775, points out Mitt Romney's latest use of the Founders to make a point about economic prosperity and the "pursuits of happiness."  A taste:

According to Mitt Romney’s website, yesterday he delivered an economic policy speech that stated:
The Founding Fathers wrote that we are endowed by our Creator with the freedom to pursue happiness. In America, we would have economic freedom, just as we would have political and religious freedom. Here, we would not be limited by the circumstance of birth nor directed by the supposedly informed hand of government.  We would be free to pursue happiness as we wish.

The Founders were convinced that millions of people, all freely choosing their individual occupations and enterprises, all pursuing their individual dreams, would produce great prosperity. 
This picture of the beliefs of America’s founding generation’s beliefs is wrong—in some ways so wrong as to be offensive.

In the American economic and social structure of the early republic, millions of Americans
were “limited by the circumstances of birth” because by law they were slaves. Millions more were limited by being women under the property laws of the time. The “hand of government” constrained the economic freedom of most American adults. And the elite men at the Continental Congress, Constitutional Convention, and U.S. Congress supported that system because they benefited from the inequality.

Read the rest at Boston 1775.