Tag Archives: Thomas Jefferson

Civil public dialogue

Senator Orrin Hatch and your correspondent

Senator Orrin Hatch and your correspondent

I studied law because I wanted to be involved in politics.  Thomas Jefferson told a cousin who sought his advice that, if he wanted to go into politics, he should study the law.  I figured Jefferson knew what he was talking about.

My party preference was set when I heard Senator Jack Kennedy, running for President, speak at Fordham University when I was a High School freshman at the Prep.

Senator Ted Kennedy and, well, yours truly

Senator Ted Kennedy and, well, yours truly

I didn’t give a thought to whether preferring one political party or another could bar one from public service.

After Columbia Law School, I was appointed a law clerk in the 2nd Circuit by an Eisenhower appointee, a NY federal prosecutor by a Nixon appointee, special counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee by Senator Strom Thurmond, and special counsel to the U.S. Senate Labor Committee by Orrin Hatch; all of these appointments were by Republicans.

In those days, you could find a worthy challenge in public service without regard to party affiliation.

In 1980, I was a Director of Citizens for Kennedy in New York, when Ted challenged Jimmy Carter to be the party’s nominee for President.  But it was not to be.

When I was appointed by Senator Hatch as his Special Counsel after Ted’s campaign, I arrived early to an empty Senate Labor Committee Hearing Room, except for Senator Kennedy who was the ranking member on the Committee.

Ted asked, “What brings you here?”

“I’m Special Counsel to the Senate Labor Committee,” I answered.

Ted laughed, “No, you’re not. I didn’t appoint you.”

“No,” I said, “You didn’t but Orrin did.”

Ted came closer, speaking softly, in a mock conspiratorial way, and asked, “Does he know about us?”

I said, “Yes, he does.” Continue reading

The enlargement of liberty – our progress

Thomas Jefferson: "All men are created equal"

Thomas Jefferson: “All men are created equal”

When Thomas Jefferson penned the words in our Declaration of Independence in 1776 that “all Men are created equal,” he stated what the Continental Congress believed to be the proper condition of men in the colonies in relation to the offenses suffered under Great Britain.

Unfortunately, all men were not treated as “equals” within the several colonies either.

Even after our federal constitution with its Bill of Rights, slaves and women enjoyed no rights, unalienable or otherwise.  They were property.

The Declaration was an unfulfilled promise of equality.

A former U.S. Senator said: “The enlargement of liberty for individual human beings must be the supreme goal and the abiding practice of any western society.” Continue reading

Anarchy?

Henry David Thoreau said he heartily agreed with that Jeffersonian remark, “that government is best which governs least.”

He said, however, he’d go one better, believing “That government is best which governs not at all.”

Henry was, in truth and fact, a non-violent anarchist.

Some might think our current brand of green tea anarchists from mostly red states draw wisdom from Henry when enthusiastically shutting down the government – invoking the Affordable Care Act (ACA)(or Obamacare) as their pretext for what they’ve wanted to do ever since they’ve dominated the House Republican Caucus in the U.S. Congress and dictated what the Speaker may move to the floor for a vote.

But Henry’s no-government anarchism presumed a precondition, that would be satisfied “when men are prepared for it, [and then] that will be the kind of government which they will have.” Continue reading