Read the Bills Act Coalition

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Happy 389th Year Birthday to the Virginia General Assembly

Senator Ken Cuccinelli says it best as he wishes the GA a 389th Birthday.....From Senator Cuccinelli:

Well, today is one of those landmark birthdays that ring through history. Though this particular birthday rings fairly quietly at this point. Of course I am referring to the 389th birthday of the Virginia General Assembly, the oldest continuously operating elected body in the Western Hemisphere. July 30, 1619 was the first day of what (as I recall) was then called the House of Burgesses. The House of Burgesses later became the House of Delegates....Not surprisingly, “the other body,” now known as the Senate, was not then popularly elected. The other body was the Governor’s Council, selected largely (again, I’m working from memory here, so don’t hold me to this 100%) by the Governor. So, Happy Birthday Virginia General Assembly!...Virginia is rich with the founding history of American Democracy. It is unfortunate that that history is reflected upon in the public square so infrequently. Little reference is made to what the founding fathers’ view of any particular proposal might be, though there are some of us that consider such questions. Why consider their view? Well, it serves me as a useful ‘double check’ on the appropriateness of government undertaking or not undertaking any particular act/action/program/expenditure. If James Madison would have said that “government has no business doing that [fill in the blank with what ‘that’ is],” then such a conclusion should serve as a significant weight on the scale AGAINST moving in such a direction,… shouldn’t it? ...Professor Walter Williams of George Mason University’s vaunted Economics Department recently wrote:Federal usurpation goes beyond anything the Constitution's framers would have imagined. James Madison, explaining the constitution, in Federalist Paper 45, said, "The powers delegated … to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, [such] as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce. … The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people." Thomas Jefferson emphasized that the states are not "subordinate" to the national government, but rather the two are “coordinate departments of one simple and integral whole. … The one is the domestic, the other the foreign branch of the same government.” ...Needless to say, their vision finds little resemblance to today’s federal government in particular, but the expansiveness of state government would undoubtedly shock them as well....I am reminded of the time that Democratic Senator Dick Saslaw repeated the position on the floor of the Senate that property rights don’t belong in our constitution. He said that two days in a row. You can see it here. We have strayed far from their vision of limited government at both the state and federal levels of government....One way to express my hope for the Republican Party is that we become the keepers of the founders’ vision – what they aspired for America to be – that legacy that is captured in the most famous sentence of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” ...I believe that “the pursuit of happiness” was used where Locke would have used “property” because Thomas Jefferson recognized that because one could own property in people at that time, i.e., slavery was legal, such a condition was completely irreconcilable with the proposition of liberty. So, to side step the hypocrisy, ‘pursuit of happiness’ was inserted instead. The founders knew that slavery was the flaw in their system and that they couldn’t get rid of it at that time and maintain one united country. So they put it off.

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