Utopian visions are typically the purview of the left. Conservatives, with their well-placed tendency to have less faith in the perfectibility of man, tend to steer clear of such things.
Now comes talk-radio host, best-selling author and lawyer Mark R. Levin’s “The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic,” which bills itself as “a first step” on the road out of perdition.
Really, though, it’s a conservative’s view of utopia, where the states can amend the Constitution and transient policy preferences such as 15 percent tax rates and caps on debt pegged to gross domestic product are enshrined in the organic law.
Don’t get me wrong. Almost all of Levin’s ideas are good ones, from my perspective (not too sure about repealing the 17th Amendment and returning the election of senators to state legislatures, but everything else looks good).
He argues them lucidly, with just the right touch of ideological fanaticism.
And, as a book of policy proposals, “The Liberty Amendments” is as good a place to start as any for conservatives hoping to shape the debate inside and outside the Republican Party.
But Levin presents the book as more, and that is where he runs off the rails.
The idea that informs the book is that liberals have taken over the political process to such an extent that it is impossible for the true voice of the people to be heard.
“The Statists have been successful in their century-long march to disfigure and mangle the constitutional order and undo the social compact,” Levin writes.
Which leaves one wondering: How were they able to do this? Could it be that it was because they won elections and then acted on their principles? (Hey conservatives, that looks like fun. Why don’t you try it sometime?)
The “governing masterminds,” as Levin refers to them, have left the people “lamebrained and dumbfounded.” Again, this raises an interesting question. How are we supposed to trust the lamebrained and dumbfounded (that’s us, by the way) to fix this mess?
Levin doesn’t really blame the people for their abdication of responsibility, though, instead asserting that the public has been “indoctrinated, manipulated and misled” by its elected representatives.
Unfortunately, he has a point. But only up to a point. If people are being indoctrinated, manipulated and misled, it’s at least partly their own fault. People make choices, especially in a republic, and if they choose to make bad ones over and over again, there’s very little anyone can do about it (except the statists, who want to keep them from drinking soda and living too far from work and smoking in public and on and on and on).
Levin’s solution to all this is to employ the never-before-used provision in Article V of the Constitution that requires Congress to call a convention upon application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the states for the purpose of considering amendments.
Levin, whose writing is always entertaining, is like the doctor who provides a perfect diagnosis for your incurable disease, then offers a curative that is unobtainable.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.