Wednesday, May 25, 2005

A nation of laws, not men - UPDATED

Jay Nordlinger is by the Dead Sea in Jordan reporting on the latest World Economic Forum (WEF) meetings. His depiction is pithy and colorful especially in depicting the new Iraqi reformers vs. the Arab Old Guard.

But what really caught me was his commentary on something Connecticut Congressman Christopher Shays said self-deprecatingly about America:

In praising the Iraqi election — an infinitely praiseworthy thing — Shays goes a little overboard. He says that Jan. 30 “worked better than any election in America,” which is of course absurd. He says that Iraqis are superior to Americans, because our turnout is shamefully low. Actually, Shays should know that a low voter turnout can be a sign of democratic health: Our system allows for freedom from politics; we are a nation of laws, not men; changes in office don’t cause great convulsions in our lives. A nation that can afford a low voter turnout is a lucky one.

We are a nation of laws, not men.




Powerline has long post today on California appellate judge Robert K. Puglia who succumbed to cancer recently. There's the eulogy that Janice Rogers Brown gave and the post reprints a copy of the last major speech that Puglia gave: "Freedom is not Free."

Thomas Jefferson said: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” A few hundred yards from the Jefferson Memorial in our nation’s capital the same sentiment is expressed somewhat less starkly: “Freedom is not free.” The freedoms of which we speak are guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. They are limitations on the power of government. If we are not to descend into anarchy, we must live under government. But government represents concentrated power and, if government is to respect our freedoms, it must be subject to some check. The check on government is, of course, an independent judiciary which implements the rule of law.

The rule of law relies on a fragile consensus, which remarkably has endured and allowed us, uniquely among the nations of the world, to live as free people for more than 200 years. It is the guarantor of our freedoms. It emits the glow that illuminates the shining city on the hill, the glow that is never so brilliant as when contrasted to the ominous shadows cast by the brutal tyrannies which have threatened our national existence in this century. More than anything else, the rule of law is at the heart of American exceptionalism. That is the unique place that America occupies among the community of nations.

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