The only place to start: foundational principles

I get a little anxious when someone interjects into a discussion that either the “constitution says” or the “founders intended.” While there is a broad set of things that are clear in the constitution, and many things that the founders did intend, if something is being discussed then it’s likely that the clear application of the Constitution or intention of the founders is not established.

I’ve been trying to figure out, with the advantage now of being able to consider my next move, how to approach this blog. Various issues are definitely out there to discuss, both large and ongoing issues as well as things that are “hot” for a short period. But as I thought about trying to write something about them, I felt something was missing.

I’ve decided that I needed to return to the beginning and actually bring clarity I didn’t have when I started blogging for my campaign for Pennsylvania State Representative. My second blog entry tried to outline a “platform” for my campaign. But I think I was mixing two things. What I need to start with: what are my principles and what do they mean.

In talking to people during my campaign, I started to see how my principles allowed me to work to answer any issue that was raised. The one-word summary of those principles is: Freedom, Family, and Fiscal.

However, before I try and establish platform positions on things, I need to put meaning behind those words.

1. Freedom: Mankind is best served by freedom instead of having things being decide for him. While he is willing to surrender some freedom to allow for some safety, an erosion of freedom for any reason ultimately starts to cause issues with responsibility and initiative. We have a word for a man who is fed, clothed, housed, but is not free: prisoner. To maximize our pursuit of happiness, we should be free.

2. Family: Whether we have opinions on “love” or what people should be “free” to do, we can’t escape that another essential factor of the continuation of society is that we must reproduce and raise offspring to populate the next generation. Therefore, considerations (including freedom) must be considered how they relate to the relationships and interactions in order to have a stable environment for raising children. We also should not mortgage the next generation’s future to provide more comfort for ourselves.

3. Fiscal: Behind my back, people have made fun of me about the grammar on this one. It’s hard to let go of a single word trio like this, but it would be probably more accurate to say “Fiscal Responsibility”. A US Congressmen in my area has a good way to summarize this: you can’t spend what you don’t have. Debating if the government borrowing money creates a net gain to the society…its subterfuge. It’s craven politics. I need the other principles to balance my positions, but fiscal responsibility is a very big deal to me.

I don’t claim that the above are in the Constitution or that I have somehow been able to “channel” the founders intentions. My interest is in trying to express those principles as clearly as possible and then use blog entries here to apply those principles to issues we’re trying to address in the world today. While my position on issues may change as the dialog continues (a side comment in a speech today about “if you legalize something you get more of it” is causing some contemplation for instance), the idea is that the principles remain consistent.

You may chose to define the above words differently, but the definition I give is the meaning of my principles (and your alternate definition will not change my principles). I am glad to be evaluated on how I can effectively match up my platform/positions to my principles — and I fully expect that, through dialog, I may adjust positions I hold in the future. My hope in doing blog entries, however, is that my efforts to explain how my principles inform my positions will be of use to you.

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