“The generation that made the nation thought secrecy in government one of the instruments of Old World tyranny and committed itself to the principle that a democracy cannot function unless the people are permitted to know what their government is up to.”
—Henry Steele Commager
I took that quote from a recent posting by Bruce Fein on the Libertarian site of the The Future of Freedom Foundation. Commager was a great influence on me as a young student and Fein is a hero of mine. Fine delights me, not because I share his POV completely but because he is one of those rare creatures that do exist in Washington–a decent and honorable man of principle. Fein and other libertarians like him believe in a kind of Constitutional fundamentalism. They believe in limited government, of course, but they believe that the separation of powers is fundamental to a relatively free society. The Founders were intelligent students of political science and had, unlike most people today who write about politics, read the classics. Reading the classics makes one skeptical of mankind and governing systems. So the Founders devised a system that was somewhat inefficient but insured political stability. One of the chief means of doing that was to put the power of the purse and or war squarely in the hands of Congress which is closest to the people.