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Friday, August 05, 2011

Republicans Don't Understand Republicanism

Shorter Rick Santorum: Know who else thought government had a role in educating children?  Hitler!

It is a parent’s responsibility to educate their children. It is not the government’s job. 

I admit to being puzzled as to why so many people think parent's responsibilities and government's jobs are mutually exclusive.  Do we not each defend our children, for example, both at home and through constitutional mechanisms?  Why, then, should each authority not have some role in education, especially when the health of the republic is at stake?

One thing I love about Vermont's constitution is that education is an integral part of our frame of government.  As the state supreme court observed:

[F]or the founders of the frontier Republic of Vermont the fostering of republican values, or public "virtue" as it was commonly known  in the eighteenth century, was not the empty rhetoric it often seems today;  it was an urgent necessity -- a matter literally affecting the survival of  the new Republic.  

This urgency was reflected in the Constitution, one  provision of which instructed that "frequent recurrence to fundamental  principles, and a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance,  industry and frugality, are absolutely necessary to preserve the blessings  of liberty."  Vt. Const. of 1777, ch. I, art. 16. Another constitutional  provision, the so-called "Virtue" Clause, declared that "[l]aws for the  encouragement of virtue, and prevention of vice and immorality, shall be  made and constantly kept in force."   Id. ch. II, § 41.  

Republican theory of the eighteenth century held that public "virtue" -- in the broad sense  of moral restraint, public responsibility, and ethical values -- was the  bedrock and essential ingredient of self-government.  See G. Wood, The  Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787 68 (1969) ("The eighteenth  century mind was thoroughly convinced that a popularly based government  `cannot be supported without Virtue.'").  As John Adams wrote, "`Liberty' .  . . `can no more exist without virtue and independence than the body can  live and move without a soul.'"  B. Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the  American Revolution 135 (1992) (quoting John Adams).(FN7)

But I guess for Santorum, there's no such thing as virtue in the classical republican sense.  To him it only means, "thou shalt not use your genitals in ways of which I approve not."  Oh, and for Dog's sake, don't teach kids science


August 5, 2011 | Permalink


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Another excellent blog entry. We have a lot of the same ignorance here in Texas, and your comments fit them perfectly. I think Texas may lead the nation in ignorance in education. And yet we do have a few bright spots. Google " the Chinquapin School" and you will see one.

Posted by: Topper Moore | Aug 5, 2011 8:51:48 PM

Happy birthday to one of my favorite people!!! Sam's getting so big. What a cutie.

Posted by: pie | Aug 6, 2011 3:16:50 PM

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