The space between the individual and the state

The space between the individual and the state September 9, 2014

Rep. Paul Ryan (R, Wisconsin), in his new book entitled The Way Forward, discusses “the space between the individual and the state” and says that Progressives keep wanting to fill that space with the government.

From George Will’s review, Paul Ryan rethinks the ‘makers’ and ‘takers’ idea – The Washington Post:

“Society,” Ryan writes, “functions through institutions that operate in the space between the individual and the state,” and “government exists to protect the space where all of these great things occur.” Hence government has a “supporting role” as “the enabler of other institutions.” Progressive government, however, works, sometimes inadvertently but often deliberately, to subordinate or supplant those institutions. This depletion of social capital is comprehensively injurious to the culture. And “all the tax cuts in the world don’t matter much if you don’t get the culture right.”

Progressivism aims to place individuals in unmediated dependency on a government that can proclaim, as Barack Obama does: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” Meaning, people depend on government for what they are and have.

Few of today’s progressives are acquainted with their doctrine’s intellectual pedigree or its consistent agenda. Progressivism’s founders, however, considered it essential that the nation make progress, as they understood this, beyond the Founders’ natural rights philosophy, which limits government by saying (in the Declaration of Independence) that it is “instituted” to “secure” these rights.

Hence Woodrow Wilson, a progressive who understood his doctrine’s premises, urged Americans to “not repeat the [Declaration’s] preface.” Progressivism preaches that rights do not preexist government, that they are dispensed and respected by government as it sees fit and to fit its purposes. Those purposes grow unconstrained by the Constitution that progressives construe as a “living” — meaning infinitely elastic — document.

 


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