by Mark Fitzgibbons
Issue 223– March 13, 2013
There’s a reason for that. The book sets forth the positive vision of constitutional conservatism, and overwhelms the bitterness, hyperbole and demagoguery of the left. It’s a winning argument versus an ideology that long ago abandoned intellectually honest arguments in favor of corrupt power.
Virginia Attorney General and candidate for governor Ken Cuccinelli is a constitutional conservative who has been repeatedly elected in the Deep Blue county of Fairfax, Virginia. He has always understood that articulating constitutional conservatism, rather than running from it, wins political races.
The central premise of Last Line of Defense is that American government is limited by a supreme law that constitutes, structures, and governs government. Limiting government by law preserves individual liberty, and that is the basis for our greatness as a nation.
It’s not a difficult concept, and Cuccinelli’s book makes it easy to understand, but it is a great one that requires knowledge beyond sound bites. It requires understanding eternal human principles, which include notions such as power corrupts, and that government is power that therefore must be limited and governed by law.
In Last Line of Defense, Ken establishes a marker for not just the Tea Party, but the entire Republican Party. “The Constitution with its Bill of Rights is not a code of laws for citizens; it is the law that governs government,” writes Cuccinelli. “Just as laws restrain individuals from harming one another, the Constitution restrains the government from harming the individual and his liberty.”
Unlike many other politicians who swear to uphold the Constitution, Cuccinelli actually understands it down to its core. In fact, he articulates the purposes of the Constitution better than most law professors and scholars, and certainly better than any contemporary politician.
His critics from the far left fear Cuccinelli’s message, which is why they attack the messenger. But in delivering his message, Ken shows the broad appeal of constitutionalism and limited government. It is a law that protects everyone – even his critics who somehow deem conservatives unworthy of constitutional protections.
That theme is central to the conservative and Tea Party movements, and it was once central to what were civil liberty movements that merged into, and became corrupted by, the Democratic Party. Those organizations abandoned liberty and principles, and have become corrupt shells of what they once stood for.
Cuccinelli’s book begins with a brief but compelling history lesson grounded in the debates of our Founders who struggled to provide us a law to control government. His statesmanlike analysis of the principles and great thoughts of our Founders is easy to read and hard to put down.
He explains why opposition to the Constitution by Anti-Federalists eventually strengthened it by inclusion of the Bill of Rights. Losing one battle, writes Cuccinelli, can result in winning, which is a lesson for Republicans who fear their own shadows and seek the cunning, Iago-like approval of The Washington Post before they too are destroyed.
Cuccinelli describes the importance of the Constitution’s structure, and why that is central to the principles it protects. Separation of powers, federalism, constitutional amendments, the Bill of Rights and our guaranteed republican form of government were carefully debated to craft this supreme law designed to preserve individual liberty. Liberty is the spring of both economic success and individual happiness.
To violate the Constitution’s structure is to violate the law. When President Obama says he “can’t wait for Congress to act,” he violates the law every bit as much as someone who can’t wait for a bank to open to make a withdrawal. This law preserving liberty is the key to our pursuit of happiness, but only if it is obeyed by, and enforced on, government.
Cuccinelli then turns to describing his various lawsuits as Virginia’s Attorney General against the Obama administration, which he calls “the biggest set of lawbreakers in America.” Once you understand the central premise of his book, there is no doubt about his observation.
He takes you ringside into one of the most important cases in American history, the Obamacare lawsuit. He was first to file, and first to win in any court. He walks us through the reasons for filing, his work with other state attorneys general, the case arguments, the media’s sometimes arrogant coverage, and finally, the surprising opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts.
Ken also describes the massive and contemptible lawbreaking by the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Labor Relations Board, the Federal Communications Commission, and more. The Obama administration doesn’t just violate the Constitution; it shows contempt for court orders and even the statutory and regulatory laws that it purports to enforce.
Throughout his description of the lawsuits, Cuccinelli provides a tutorial about the rule of law that every American would benefit from knowing.
Ken wraps up with “the first principles that made this nation great, and . . . the formula to achieve greater personal liberty and a growing economy,” which he calls “the economic pie and the liberty pie.”
Ken’s book written with Brian Gottstein is nothing short of masterful. Reading it will make you wonder why more Republicans don’t express their views this way.