The “hour is late,” says Mark Levin, nationally syndicated radio-talk-show host and president of the Landmark Legal Foundation. But the bestselling author is optimistic that Americans haven’t all given up on the constitutional principles that have made ours an exceptional nation. In his new book, Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America, Levin talks about what ails us and how we can reclaim what our Founders had in mind. Here, he discusses the book with National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez.
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: How close are we to “The Unmaking of America”?
MARK R. LEVIN: We are well on our way. It has been a gradual, ongoing process that has led to where we are today — which is in an increasingly post-constitutional America. There is so much that the federal government does today, and is poised to do tomorrow, that America can no longer be accurately described as a constitutional republic, or a federal republic, or a representative republic — although we still vote for our representatives. The government retains certain characteristics of all three, but the fact is that the federal government is so large, intrusive, ambitious — ubiquitous, in fact — that it is devouring more and more of our civil society and threatening our individual sovereignty.
So numerous are the examples of social engineering and lifestyle calibrations that they are bordering on the infinite; it is impossible adequately to catalogue them here. But the utopian mind-set — which compels centralized decisionmaking and concentrated power, the reshaping of man’s nature by attacking his sovereignty, and the pursuit of impracticable and impossible long-term solutions and promises of great scope — requires the abandonment of the very foundational principles that undergird our Declaration and our Constitution. Woodrow Wilson specifically repudiated the Declaration, and Cass Sunstein, currently a top adviser to Barack Obama, has written that our Constitution is now FDR’s constitution — meaning, for the rest of us, that it has been thoroughly distorted and evaded.
This is is a hugely important subject, which is discussed at length in my book.
LOPEZ: You write that the “debates between the Federalist and Anti-Federalist camps did not involve fundamental disagreements about the nature of man and his inalienable rights — about which there was near-universal consent and for which a revolution had been fought and won — but how best to arrange a government, after the revolution, to ensure the perpetuation of American society.” How did we get to a point at which we don’t agree on such fundamentals?
LEVIN: There has been a fairly successful effort to disarrange our society over the course of many decades. It has been a steady campaign aimed at the psychology of the American people. The notion of rugged individualism — that is, the independent, self-sufficient, motivated, successful person who takes care of himself and is compassionate toward his fellow man — is under constant assault through legislation, taxation, entitlements, and political discourse. Indeed, individual self-interest is said to be “immoral.” For example, as I explain in the book, Columbia University professor Henry Rogers Seager’s arguments influenced, among others, Franklin Roosevelt. Seager, in turn, was heavily influenced by European models of socialism. Seager was one of the most prominent “thinkers” who provided the framework for Social Security. Time and again, Seager attacked the American “absorption” with individualism, as Wilson had before, and as the Left does today.