OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
A video series narrated by conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza and produced by Prager U lays out in detail the founding principles of America as they were envisioned through the eyes of the country’s most prominent founders as a means of discussing how the country began as a means of better understanding where we are today.
“Something has gone wrong in America — is it that we have moved away from our founding principles?” asks D’Souza.
He thinks so.
D’Souza has completed a series of 5 videos to spell out what those principles are, highlighting the genius of the men who made them, and showing their relevance to today’s debates over socialism, downward mobility, culture wars, and a divided America.
As part of the five-video series, D’Souza discusses the visionary James Madison, also known as the “Father of The Constitution,” and how he approached not just the drafting of our governing document but why he believed in its concepts and how he imagined they would work in practice.
Madison was aware that even in a democratic society there could be tyranny someday, D’Souza noted, adding that the founder thought about the question a great deal, concluding at one point: “Whenever there is an interest and power to do wrong, wrong will generally be done.”
And while Madison, like most of the other founders, wanted the new country to be as free as possible with as little government as possible, he was “under no illusions” and as such knew that there must be safeguards built into any system because in democratic societies, he and the others knew that the “tyranny of the majority” held great potential, based on historical precedent.
The great challenge, then, was to devise a document that protected the rights of the minority from being overruled by majorities, while at the same time reining in the size and scope of government.
As such, Madison proposed that the “enumerated” rights of the people be specifically listed so that future generations could learn and know them. In addition, the founding document must also list the functions and restrictions on the federal government — listing the tasks and duties of the various branches of government while also making it clear that anything outside those listed functions were off-limits and reserved to the states first and then the people. Those are listed in the Bill of Rights — the first 10 amendments.
As for the type of government, Madison rejected a direct democracy in lieu of a republic, whereby the people elected members of society to represent them and their interests, a radical departure from existing governments and monarchies of the day.
The government itself must also be divided, Madison noted, so that power cannot be concentrated and exercised in a tyrannical manner. His vision was a Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branch, each of which would serve as a check and balance on the others.
Madison’s “ambition” was “to give America a political system that would promote freedom by making it very hard for the human appetite for power over others to ever be realized,” D’Souza explained. “He succeeded thus far.”
In the other videos of the “Making America” series, D’Souza also talks about Benjamin Franklin and how he became “the prototype” of the “self-made” individual, of which he says there were relatively few before the founding of America.
In another episode, D’Souza talked about John Adams, the country’s second president, and how he pushed society to become virtuous and the best versions of themselves through emulation of others known to be of good moral character — a quality he believed was necessary to the maintenance and function of a successful society.
In an episode about Thomas Jefferson, D’Souza notes that his words in the Declaration of Independence that “All men are created equal” may be among the most influential ever written in respect to building an equitable and fair society.
Finally, D’Souza talks about America’s capitalist society, an economic system championed by Alexander Hamilton and which led to the United States becoming one of the most successful, wealthiest countries in the history of the world, its people enjoying, on average, a lifestyle unparalleled throughout the ages.
Based on the “innovation, invention, and enterprise” of the individual, our capitalist system is under assault today from the left which pushes an alternative, socialism, “which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.”