The Corner

Peter Schramm

didn’t like my post yesterday about David Brooks. Brooks had said that the Declaration of Independence embodied the sentiment that God has given all people “the ability to function as democratic citizens.” I said that the Declaration embodied no such sentiment, and that the sentiment is false. Schramm thinks I have the Declaration wrong, am displaying knee-jerk paleo tendencies, have never read Lincoln, and–worst of all–am “snippy.”

The plain meaning of what Brooks said is not just that all people, in all times and places, should be governed by consent, as Schramm would have it, but that they actually can govern themselves democratically. What else would it mean to be able to function as democratic citizens? And that claim seems to me to be nearly obviously false. Schramm does not, himself, try to maintain its truth.

Schramm says that Brooks’s formulation is “close enough for a column” and that I should not criticize a “relatively thoughtful columnist who happens to support both the President’s actions in Iraq [and] the final reason for that action.” I cannot agree. I think that the political thought of the Founders is important, and deserves more careful attention than “close enough for a column”–and it is hardly a compliment to Brooks to defend him in such terms.

But I do agree with Schramm that the comments to his post are worth reading.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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