Key logic in America’s founding documents is now too often neglected. Here’s a quick 4th of July quiz:
1. What does “the Declaration” list as the first justification for America’s Independence?
2. What does the Constitution define as government’s role after providing for “the common defense” and before securing “the Blessings of Liberty”?
3. The Founders knew that no nation is the sum of its private interests. Unless those interests correctly include their dependence on answers to those two questions above.
4. The answer to 1: A tyrannous king was obstructing “Laws… necessary for the public good.”
5. The answer to 2: Government’s role is to “promote the general Welfare.”
6. The Founders felt their logic of common defense applied equally to the “public good.”
7. Tocqueville said Americans knew how to “combat individualism by the principle of interest rightly understood.”
8. In the 1830s it seemed self-evident that there was a “close connection between the private fortune of each and the prosperity of all.”
9. This “incline[d Americans] willingly to sacrifice a portion of their time and property to the welfare of the state.”
10. National independence logically requires domestic interdependence (all private success is built atop a platform of the “public good”).
11. The Founders knew that practical liberty is a government program (it can’t be secured privately).
12. Ask yourself, is America being run for “the people”? Or mostly for the benefit of a happy few?
Illustration by Julia Suits, The New Yorker Cartoonist & author of The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions.