Jonah Goldberg used to challenge liberals by asking what, aside from the Holocaust, they disliked about national socialism. In Liberal Fascism, his full-length treatment of this theme, he included as an appendix the Nazi political platform, with its strikingly unoffensive calls for universal education, expanded healthcare, and provision for the elderly.
I think it was a useful exercise for liberals who were willing to hear Goldberg out, and I'm sure it at least partially inspired New Republic editor Franklin Foer's ongoing book project on the intellectual roots of progressivism.
So, I figured, why not play some more?
Specifically, I'm curious what Gov. Rick Perry and his fans think about the Constitution of the Confederate States of America.
As with Jonah's caveat that liberals aren't Nazi racialists, let me clarify right away that I don't believe Rick Perry seeks a return of slavery or is a closet racist. [Read Robert Schlesinger: Rick Perry's Double Talk on Social Security and the Constitution]
But what if you subtracted the slavery bits—as far as Perry (and, for that matter, many likeminded conservatives) is concerned—what's not to like? [See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 GOP hopefuls.]
It included a line-item veto for the president. It prohibited protective tariffs (free trade!). It rejected Henry Clay-style federal financing of internal improvements (no stimulus!).
Here's the best part for Perry.
To my decided un-surprise, I found this 1992 paean to the Confederate Constitution by Randall G. Holcombe in the Mises Institute Monthly. It sounds like it could've been written yesterday:
One grave weakness in the U.S. Constitution is the "general welfare" clause, which the Confederate Constitution eliminated.
The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to "lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts, and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States."
The Confederate Constitution gave Congress the power "to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, for revenue necessary to pay the debts, provide for the common defense, and carry on the Government of the Confederate States..."
The Southern drafters thought the general welfare clause was an open door for any type of government intervention. They were, of course, right.
So, again the question: Aside from slavery, Governor Perry, what, if anything, do you dislike about the Confederate Constitution?
- Read Scott Galupo: Rick Perry Flip Flops Worse Than Mitt Romney
- See photos of the GOP hopefuls on the campaign trail.
- Vote: Will Rick Perry's Prayer Summit Help or Hurt His 2012 Chances?