Hillary Clinton vs. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

I suspect that most of the readers here don’t read Hot Air or QandO and therefore missed this post from Ed Morrissey:

Jon Henke at QandO wonders why this particular Hillary Clinton quote from last September hasn’t received much attention:

“We can talk all we want about freedom and opportunity, about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but what does all that mean to a mother or father who can’t take a sick child to the doctor?” she asked.

I just finished watching the excellent HBO series John Adams last Sunday. It tells the story of our nation’s birth and the sacrifice many of our founders made to create a free nation. They wanted a nation with government limited to just enough power to keep the peace and defend the nation. They didn’t conceive of the idea that a free people would trade their fortunes and freedom to create a government that would dictate choices to them in a manner far more egregious than George III.

Of course, this quote comes as a piece with another Hillary winner, from 2004:

“We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”

Sure we could find some things to disagree about. The Federalists were hardly small government types, and it is hard to compare government in Adams’ era to the present. The founding fathers were intelligent men who would have recognized the differences between the early 1800’s and the present, even if many conservatives do not.

More importantly, we could comment on the many Republican abuses of power and violations of civil liberties which the founding fathers would disapprove of but which the conservative blogosphere supports. While they often engage in rhetoric supporting freedom, which is preferable to Clinton’s rhetoric in opposition, the modern conservative movement represents a radical repudiation of the actual ideals of the founding fathers. They reject the views of the founding fathers on issues ranging from presidential power to separation of church and state. I’m not sure how conservatives believe that the founding fathers would universally oppose economic programs which benefit the common good but approve of Republican corporate welfare.

In considering our disagreements, we shouldn’t ignore the areas of agreement. They might be right in wondering why Clinton’s quote from last September didn’t receive enough attention, but they shouldn’t assume that this is necessarily a left versus right issue. I’ve criticized Clinton for that specific quote and have often noted that if the Democrats allow the election to be framed as an anti-freedom Democrat versus a pro-freedom Republican most likely the Republicans will win. As is Ed, I’ve often been critical of Clinton’s nanny state philosophy.

There are segments of both the left and the right which hold anti-freedom views. Ed and I would agree in finding this a problem with the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party. Unfortunately I don’t think he would agree with me in finding this to be an even greater problem with the current Republican Party.

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  1. 1
    Jon Henke says:

    It’s easy to contrast my/our objection to Hillary’s attitude with the attitude of other people on the Right. But I don’t approve of the expansive view of Presidential power, or corporate welfare or similar things from the Bush administration and Republican Party.

    It’s easy to point to hypocrisy, but what about those of us who oppose it from both sides?

  2. 2
    chris says:

    There is hypocrisy on both sides. It is that hypocrisy that must be fought from inside of each party. Unfortunately I don’t think any of the 3 remaining candidates is equipped to really deal with it.

    I don’t agree with many of the views on this blog but that doesn’t stop me from recognizing that its still a great blog with very well thought out points of view.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:


    what about those of us who oppose it from both sides

    The problem with a blog post is that only a limited number of points are made. I have often pointed out in other posts that there are many on the right who oppose Bush’s expansion of presidential power, etc.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:


    Historically there have been portions of each party which I prefer and others which I do not. I have no use for Democrats such as Clinton who are weak on social issues and civil liberties issues while pushing populist economics. I would have more interest in a socially liberal Republican who is strong on civil liberties issues.

    Unfortunately in recent years it has become much harder to find Republicans who I share views with. I’m hoping that this changes when Bush is gone and the Republicans realize they have to open back up to other views to survive.

    As for the three remaining candidates, I think that Obama gives the best shot. It is certainly a gamble (the one thing I agree with from Bill Clinton this year) but the other two candidates each have views which make them totally unacceptable to me. Plus Obama has shown far more ability than most politicians to understand and take ideas from opposing viewpoints as opposed to reflexively attacking them.

  5. 5
    chris says:

    I think the primary process itself is largely to blame. Both sides have to pander to the fringes to get the nomination which makes it too hard for someone with more centrist common sense beliefs to make it through.

    It will probably take a larger than the process guy like Eisenhower for a candidate to emerge who is not smeared by the pandering and promises.

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    That’s part of the problem. Republicans must pander to the religious right and Democrats must pander to various fringe groups as well as be further to the left on economics.

    I wouldn’t view it as totally being centrist versus the fringes. In some areas such as on economics I might prefer a more pragmatic outlook which could be characterized as more centrist. However on social issues and civil liberties issues I would prefer someone more liberal as opposed to more centrist compromising.

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