Oct 30th 2015

Anti-Governmentalism: The Third Republican Debate

by Charles J. Reid, Jr

Charles J. Reid, Jr. was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he majored in Latin, Classics, and History, and also did substantial coursework in classical Greek and modern European languages. It was during his undergraduate days that he developed an interest in canon law, doing a year of directed research in Roman and canon law under the supervision of James Brundage. Reid then attended the Catholic University of America, where he earned J.D. and J.C.L. (license in canon law) degrees. During his time at Catholic University, he organized a series of symposia on the bishops' pastoral letter on nuclear arms. The proceedings of these symposia were published under Reid's editorship as "Peace in a Nuclear Age: The Bishops' Pastoral Letter in Perspective" (Catholic University of America Press, 1986). This book was called by the New York Times "among the most scholarly and unsettling of responses" to the pastoral letter (December 28, 1986).Reid then attended Cornell University, where he earned a Ph.D. in the history of medieval law under the supervision of Brian Tierney. His thesis at Cornell was on the Christian, medieval origins of the western concept of individual rights. Over the last ten years, he has published a number of articles on the history of western rights thought, and is currently completing work on a book manuscript addressing this question.In 1991, Reid was appointed research associate in law and history at the Emory University School of Law, where he has worked closely with Harold Berman on the history of western law. He collaborated with Professor Berman on articles on the Lutheran legal science of the sixteenth century, the English legal science of the seventeenth century, and the flawed premises of Max Weber's legal historiography.While at Emory, Reid has also pursued a research agenda involving scholarship on the history of western notions of individual rights; the history of liberty of conscience in America; and the natural-law foundations of the jurisprudence of Judge John Noonan. He has also published articles on various aspects of the history of the English common law. He has had the chance to apply legal history in a forensic setting, serving as an expert witness in litigation involving the religious significance of Christian burial. Additionally, Reid has taught a seminar on the contribution of medieval canon law to the shaping of western constitutionalism.  Recently, Reid has become a featured blogger at the Huffington Post on current issues where religion, law and politics intersect.

"Alzheimer's, diabetes, cancer and heart disease." Cure these chronic illnesses, Governor Mike Huckabee informed his audience at the third Republican debate, held October 28, 2015, and "we" can solve our issues with Medicare.

What a missed opportunity for leadership! In presidential campaigns from an older, more confident era, the candidate would have chosen this moment to commit the resources of the presidency to bold action.

Huckabee, tragically, never explained what he meant by "we." Someone running for president, however, should know the answer to that question. Indeed, Huckabee could find it by consulting the historical record. The government has consistently taken the lead in the fight against dread diseases. Thus the blight of tobacco-induced cancer was greatly reduced by the Surgeon General's reports of the 1960s and congressional legislation. And anyone who bothered to read the record would also discover the crucial role played by the National Institutes of Health in the fight against HIV/AIDS, or the support the government provided for mapping the human genome, which promises greatly to advance treatments for cancer. Indeed, you can track the government's record of success all the way back to Walter Reed and the fight against yellow fever in the early 1900s.

Alas, Huckabee is a prisoner of his ideology. He wants certain results. We all want Alzheimer's, diabetes, cancer and heart disease to disappear the way polio did in the 1950s. But Huckabee's ideology blinds him from seeing that the way to do that is through sophisticated, government-sponsored medical research.

Huckabee's heart might well be in the right place. We cannot say the same about some of the other participants. Let's consider Carly Fiorina and her comments on the relationship of government and economic order. The line of questioning began innocently enough. She was reminded that as the CEO of Hewlett-Packard she oversaw a generous 401(k) program for her employees. Would she take steps as president to extend 401(k) benefits to other, less-advantaged workers? Part-timers in the free-lance economy, perhaps, or workers at small businesses?

Her answer should frighten every American who works for a living. "There is no constitutional role for the federal government in setting up retirement plans. There is no constitutional role for the federal government to be setting minimum wages." What does she mean precisely? Would she ask the Supreme Court to overturn every wage and labor regulation dating back to the Woodrow Wilson administration? This was the moment to have asked her about child labor laws. Really, I hope someone does.

Chris Christie, on the other hand, occasionally presents himself as one of the adults in the room. But when he slips, he slips badly. He was reminded that he was one of the few Republican candidates for president to acknowledge the reality of global climate change and to concede that present patterns of energy consumption contribute hugely to a worsening greenhouse effect. He boasted in reply that New Jersey is third in the nation in the production of green energy, behind California and Arizona. And he simultaneously declared that green energy was a job for the private sector.

Except, well, it is not. The federal government has provided important support for renewable energy for decades. And that support is not something recent. Government has played a key role in sustaining and subsidizing renewable energy since before the construction of the Hoover Dam in the 1930's. Like Huckabee and Fiorina, Christie is a prisoner of his own ideology and cant. We might take him more seriously if he lapsed into sloganeering a little less.

And then there is Rand Paul, who declared: "Liberty thrives when government is small. I want a government so small I can barely see it." Really! How small is that? Would he join Carly Fiorina and repeal every twentieth- and twenty-first century social program? What about the food and drug laws? What about bank regulation? The Securities and Exchange Commission? What about those ambitious programs that are changing the course of the future, such as the space program? Social programs and government regulation came into being for a reason. The private sector failed, failed repeatedly, at alleviating human misery and regulating misconduct. We should not want to return to those days.

Donald Trump, for his part, would abolish gun-free zones. They've become "target practice for the sickos and the mentally ill." Better that people be armed. Asked whether he wished his employees to carry guns when on duty, Trump responded in the affirmative. This is madness. The nation needs tighter gun laws, not the total abolition of places of safety. There was a time, a quarter-century ago, when Donald Trump made sense on gun control. But that Donald Trump has vanished into a swirl of vanity, ambition, and orange-tinted hair.

Marco Rubio, I am sure, will be anointed by many as the "winner" of the evening's festivities, especially by a Republican establishment desperate to find someone, anyone, to confront the two front-runners, Trump and Ben Carson. But I predict that on closer inspection, Rubio's answers will be seen as shallow. Every time he was asked a difficult question, he dodged by attacking the media. The mainstream media, he wailed at one point, was the biggest super-pac of all, and it was solidly backing Hillary Clinton's candidacy.

Really, though, voters would like to know why he has missed all those Senate votes. And Becky Quick's question about Rubio's personal financial situation and his need to liquidate his retirement account after signing a million-dollar book deal piques my curiosity. I bet others are curious also. Rubio may well get a bounce in the polls from his performance, but it will be as transitory as the fleeting bump Fiorina received after the second debate.

There were three winners in last night's contest, Trump, Carson and Ted Cruz. In talking about Trump and Carson, I shall indulge in a bit of boxing history. Trump is Jack Dempsey. He swings away, he punches, he is always trying to cut the ring in half, closing in on his opponent, slugging, brawling, hoping to land the crushing blow. There is a part of the Republican electorate that likes these qualities. He is also nativist, intolerant, xenophobic even, and there are, sadly, many GOP voters who are drawn to that ugly message.

Carson, on the other hand is Archie Moore (1916-1998), the greatest of all the counter-punchers. Moore effortlessly graced the perimeter of the ring, lowering his torso in a patented shoulder roll that allowed opponents' blows to glance harmlessly away. Carson's performance did not lack for substance, though it is a substance so extreme that it might escape the attention of the casual listener. He still favors a biblically-mandated flat tax, and he more or less opposes Medicare. He would, in fact, favor the universal abolition of government subsidies. Carson would deservedly lose a general election in a landslide. But first, how do you lay a glove on him?

Indeed, I shall use an unusual adjective in describing Carson's performance, but it seems to fit: He is sleep-inducing, yes, and he is painfully soft-spoken. But I suspect he comes across to many television viewers as serene. It is his demeanor, his utter, preternatural calm, and not the substance of his remarks that is his strongest attribute. And that quality will take him farther than he has any right to go.

For Ted Cruz, finally, it was all about positioning. And he positioned himself brilliantly well. He defended Donald Trump when he had to, but he also sold himself as the truest, most trustworthy messenger of latter-day conservatism: "If people are promising they're going to take on Washington and cronyism, you need to look to who has been doing it."

And it is that latter-day anti-governmentalism that made the evening not only incoherent but profoundly tragic. Would these candidates really have opposed child labor laws, or the Hoover Dam, or the eradication of yellow fever, or food and drug regulation, or the human genome project, or any of the countless other government projects that advanced the cause of human welfare and American prosperity? I would like to think that none of them would be so short-sighted or so foolish. But in their anti-governmentalism they are destroying the very premises, the very logic that built and sustains those programs. And that is not only tragic, and incoherent, but a risky, dangerous game to play.


This article is brought to you by the author who owns the copyright to the text.

Should you want to support the author’s creative work you can use the PayPal “Donate” button below.

Your donation is a transaction between you and the author. The proceeds go directly to the author’s PayPal account in full less PayPal’s commission.

Facts & Arts neither receives information about you, nor of your donation, nor does Facts & Arts receive a commission.

Facts & Arts does not pay the author, nor takes paid by the author, for the posting of the author's material on Facts & Arts. Facts & Arts finances its operations by selling advertising space.



Browse articles by author

More Essays

Jun 17th 2021
EXTRACT: "Confronting our complex history and ultimately embracing a more equitable, balanced, and humble culture may be a tall order in these fractious times. But that makes it even more imperative that we fully reckon with who we are and who we are capable of becoming."
Jun 11th 2021
EXTARCT: "A further health benefit of hiking is that it’s classed as “green exercise”. This refers to the added health benefit that doing physical activity in nature has on us. Research shows that not only can green exercise decrease blood pressure, it also benefits mental wellbeing by improving mood and reducing depression to a greater extent than exercising indoors can."
Jun 10th 2021
EXTRACT: "“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress,” Mahatma Gandhi said, “can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” If we apply that test to the world as a whole, how much moral progress have we made over the past two millennia? ...... That question is suggested by The Golden Ass, arguably the world’s earliest surviving novel, written around 170 CE, when Emperor Marcus Aurelius ruled the Roman Empire. Apuleius, the author, was an African philosopher and writer, born in what is now the Algerian city of M’Daourouch."
Jun 4th 2021
EXTRACT: "Research we’ve done, which looked at 37 adults with type 2 diabetes, found that over two weeks, prolonged sitting was associated with high blood sugar levels. But we also found that when people stood up or walked around between periods of sitting, they had lower blood sugar levels. Other studies have also had similar results."
May 28th 2021
EXTRACT: "Paul Van Doren's legacy lies in a famous company, and in his advice to young entrepreneurs to get their hands dirty, and to know what goes into making what they are selling."
May 19th 2021
EXTRACT: "May 7th marked three hundred and ten years since the philosopher David Hume was born. He is chiefly remembered as the most original and destructive of the early modern empiricists, following John Locke and George Berkeley." .... " Shocking as it may (and should) sound, Hume is implying nothing less than that the next time you turn the key in your car ignition, you are as justified to expect the engine will start as you are in believing it will turn into a pumpkin. For there is a radical contingency that pervades all our experience. We could wake up tomorrow to a world that looks and behaves very differently to the one we are in now. Matters of fact are dependent on experience and can never be known a priori — they are purely contingent, and could always turn out different than what we expect."
May 1st 2021
EXTRACT: " The sad reality is that the Mizrahim (Jews of Middle Eastern and North African descent) were discriminated against from the day of Israel’s inception, whose Ashkenazi (European Jewish) leaders viewed them as intellectually inferior, “backward,” and “too Arab,” and treated them as such, largely because the Ashkenazim agenda was to maintain their upper-class status while controlling the levers of power, which remain prevalent to this day." ..... " The greatest heartbreaking outcome is that for yet another generation of Israelis, growing up in these debilitating conditions has a direct effect on their cognitive development. A 2015 study published in Nature Neuroscience found that “family income is significantly correlated with children’s brain size…increases in income were associated with the greatest increases in brain surface area among the poorest children.” "
Apr 25th 2021
EXTRACT: "We all owe Farah Nabulsi an enormous debt of gratitude. In a short 24-minute film, The Present, she has exposed the oppressive indecency of the Israeli occupation while telling the deeply moving story of a Palestinian family. What is especially exciting is that after winning awards at a number of international film festivals​, Ms. Nabulsi has been nominated for an Academy Award for this remarkable work of art. " 
Apr 25th 2021
EXTRACT: "When I crashed to the floor of my home in Bordeaux recently after two months of Covid-19 dizziness, I was annoyed. The next day I collapsed again. Now I was worried. What I didn’t know was that my brain was sloshing around inside my skull, causing a mild concussion. Nor did I know that I was in for a whole new world of weird and wonderful hallucinations."
Apr 13th 2021
EXTRACT: "Overall, our review has found that there isn’t evidence to back up the claims that veganism is good for your heart. But that is partly because there are few studies ....... But veganism may have other health benefits. Vegans have been found to have a healthier weight and lower blood glucose levels than those who consume meat and dairy. They are also less likely to develop cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes. "
Apr 8th 2021
EXTRACT: "Pollock’s universe, the universe of Mural, cannot be said to be a rational universe. Nor is it simply devoid of all sense. It is not a purely imaginary world, although in it everything is in a constant state of flux. Mural invokes one of the oldest questions of philosophy, a question going back to the Pre-Socratic philosophers Parmenides and Heraclitus – namely, whether the nature of Reality constitutes unchanging permanence or constant movement and flux. For Pollock, the only thing that is truly unchanging is change itself. The only certainty is that all is uncertain."
Apr 8th 2021
EXTRACT: "Many present day politicians appear to have psychopathic and narcissistic traits too. It’s easy to spot such leaders, because they are always authoritarian, following hardline policies. They try to subvert democracy, to reduce the freedom of the press and clamp down on dissent. They are obsessed with national prestige, and often persecute minority groups. And they are always corrupt and lacking in moral principles."
Apr 6th 2021
EXTRACT: "This has led some to claim that not just half, but perhaps nearly all advertising money is wasted, at least online. There are similar results outside of commerce. One review of field experiments in political campaigning argued “the best estimate of the effects of campaign contact and advertising on Americans’ candidates choices in general elections is zero”. Zero!"
Mar 30th 2021
EXTRACT: "The Father is an extraordinary film, from Florian Zeller’s 2012 play entitled Le Père and directed by Zeller. I’m here to tell you why it is a ‘must see’." EDITOR'S NOTE: The official trailer is attached to the review.
Mar 28th 2021
EXTRACT: "Picasso was 26 in 1907, when he completed the Demoiselles; de Kooning was 48 in 1952, when he finished Woman I.  The difference in their ages was not an accident, for studies of hundreds of painters have revealed a striking regularity - the conceptual painters who preconceive their paintings, from Raphael to Warhol, consistently make their greatest contributions earlier in their careers than experimental painters, from Rembrandt to Pollock, who paint directly, without preparatory studies."
Mar 26th 2021
EXTRACT: "Mental toughness levels are influenced by many different factors. While genetics are partly responsible, a person’s environment is also relevant. For example, both positive experiences while you’re young and mental toughness training programmes have been found to make people mentally tougher."
Mar 20th 2021

The city of Homs has been ravaged by war, leaving millions of people homeless an

Mar 20th 2021
EXTRACT: "There are two main rival models of ethics: one is based on rights, the other on duties. The rights-based model, which traces its philosophical origins to the work of John Locke in the 17th century, starts from the assumption that individuals have rights ....... According to this approach, duties are related to rights, but only in a subordinate role. My right to health implies a duty on my country to provide some healthcare services, to the best of its abilities. This is arguably the dominant interpretation when philosophers talk about rights, including human rights." ........ "Your right to get sick, or to risk getting sick, could imply a duty on others to look after you during your illness." ..... "The pre-eminence of rights in our moral compass has vindicated unacceptable levels of selfishness. It is imperative to undertake a fundamental duty not to get sick, and to do everything in our means to avoid causing others to get sick. Morally speaking, duties should come first and should not be subordinated to rights." ..... "Putting duties before rights is not a new, revolutionary idea. In fact it is one of the oldest rules in the book of ethics. Primum non nocere, or first do no harm, is the core principle in the Hippocratic Oath historically taken by doctors, widely attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher and physician Hippocrates. It is also a fundamental principle in the moral philosophy of the Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero, who in De Officiis (On Duties) argues that the first task of justice is to prevent men and women from causing harm to others."
Mar 18th 2021
EXTRACT: "Several studies have recently compared the difference between antibodies produced straight after a coronavirus infection and those that can be detected six months later. The findings have been both impressive and reassuring. Although there are fewer coronavirus-specific antibodies detectable in the blood six months after infection, the antibodies that remain have undergone significant changes. …….. the “mature” antibodies were better at recognising the variants."
Mar 15th 2021
EXTRACT: "Like Shakespeare, Goya sees evil as something existing in itself – indeed, the horror of evil arises precisely from its excess. It overflows and refuses to be contained by or integrated into our categories of reason or comprehension. By its very nature, evil refuses to remain within prescribed bounds – to remain fixed, say, within an economy where evil is counterbalanced by good. Evil is always excess of evil." ....... "Nowhere is this more evident than in war. Goya offers us a profound and sustained meditation on the nature of war ........ The image of a Napoleonic soldier gazing indifferently on a man who has been summarily hanged, probably by his own belt, expresses the tragedy of war – its dehumanization of both war’s victims and victors."