From Pearl Harbor in Perspective, by Michael Kelbaugh,
“Franklin Roosevelt is universally acclaimed as a good war president, guiding the United States through an unprecedented time of global upheaval. His domestic policies, however, granted enormous powers to the federal government that it has not since failed to abuse.”
Well, of course. If the New Dealers had read the great 18th Cenury philosophers they would have known (but would they have cared?) they were creating leviathan government institutions attendant with powers future politicians would abuse. Governments take away the liberty of their citizens as one would boil a live frog, slowly so they don’t notice or become alarmed. [that is how governments used to do it, before the Age of Obama.]
It brings to mind this quote from Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu (1689-1755), quintessential man of the Age of Enlightenment:
Political liberty is not present except where there is no abuse of power. It is an eternal experience that every man who has power is drawn to abuse it; he proceeds until he finds the limits.
Montesquieu’s contribution to the thinking of America’s founding fathers was his theory of governmental separation of powers as essential to liberty.
John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834–1902) was a historian and moralist [not a popular thing these days], who was otherwise known simply as Lord Acton, expressed a similar opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887:
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.
John Adams said he and his fellow founding fathers had striven mightily to give future generations of Americans the sacred blessings of liberty, and he hoped they would keep it.
Michael Kelbaugh continues:
“No member of the Greatest Generation could have predicted that while Japan, our deadliest enemy, would soon become one of our closest allies, a benign little program called Social Security would one day threaten to exhaust our nation’s finances and economy. For this generation of Americans, it is our budgets, not our battlefields, which are stained red — and the small, internal matters, more so than anything dramatic, that have slowly but very steadily contributed to the possibility of a looming demise.”
The Greatest Generation fought and won the battles it faced and left a better world for its children. The present generation has not yet begun to fight the battles it faces, and instead is giving every sign of leaving a mess for its children.