Monday, November 30, 2009

The Importance of First Principles

Alexander Hamilton wrote that "In disquisitions of every kind there are certain primary truths, or first principles, upon which all subsequent reasoning must depend."  Unfortunately, our cultural and political class have seem to forgotten this important maxim.  Our First Principles are enumerated in the Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its foundations on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

The First Principles of the rule of law, equality, unalienable rights, the Social Compact, limited government, and the right to abolish or alter an unjust government are the bedrock of our country.  Today, however, they are scarcely noticed in the raging political debates today.  When they are mentioned, they seem to be an afterthought.  From health care to the bailouts to the fiscal crisis to Afghanistan, hardly anyone starts with what should come first - the First Principles.  And we are a poorer nation for it.

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