In his book, Never Enough, William Voegeli wrote:
The living Constitution attained its apotheosis in Pres. Roosevelt's 1944 State of the Union address. That speech saw the culmination of FDR's effort, begun at the Commonwealth Club 11-and-a-half years earlier, to amalgamate the New Deal to the American founding. For good measure, he amalgamated it as firmly to the consuming national effort to achieve victory in World War II. Describing the Teheran Conference he had attended in October 1943, FDR told Congress that "the one supreme objective" he discussed there with Churchhill, Chiang Kai-shek and Stalin "can be summed up in one word: Security." He explained that security did not mean merely the security from cross-border aggression that is the obvious concern of a wartime meeting of the leaders of allied nations, but"also economic security, social security, moral security."
Though Roosevelt devoted most of the speech to laying out policies needed for waging and winning the war, the realtively brief section at the end on domestic policy after the war is the part still remembered. In it, he discussed the duty to "begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known," even while the war was being fought. A lasting peace, and a high and comprehensively shared standard of living, were not two goals, but one, since "unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world." This may sound like a bromide, but the speech shows FDR unmistakably advancing the idea that the nation that had elected him to the presidency was a threat to become an international aggressor, indistinguisable from the nations America was fighting, if this domestic policy agenda was thwarted. The Progressive reforms undertaken by Pres. Wilson were abandoned aftrer World War I, and a similar triumph of "rightist reaction" could have far more dire consequences after World War II: If "history were to repeat itself and we were to return to the so-called 'normalcy' of the 1920's--then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of Fascism here at home." Having characterized his opponents as fascists, FDR immediately added to the demagoguery, denying that those who questioned his domestic agenda deserved any respect as a loyal opposition:
'Our fighting men abroad--and their families at home--expect such a program and have the right to insist upon it. It is to their demands that this Government should pay heed rather than to the whining demands of selfish pressure groups who seek to feather their nests while young Americans are dying.'
The agenda for which soldiers were bleeding and against which fascists and subversives were scheming was the Second Bill of Rights. FDR's presentation of it is exactly in line with the New Deal rhetoric he had used since the Commonwealth Club Address: The American founding pointed the way, but modern circumstances require the addition of the new principles to the ones bequeathed to us by Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton.
And so it went. And so it goes today as Obama, Democrats and statist Republicans push the Progressive agenda further. Obama and company are hurling the same invectives toward libertarians and limited government conservatives, framing anyone who loyally opposes the statist direction as selfish fortune seekers who care nothing for those in need. PPACA will likely grow into another government behemoth of a program. The structure now dicussed is just the foundation on which the program will be built until government is in complete control of healthcare, just like Dodd-Frank is simply the beginning foundation on which control of finances will be built. As I wrote the other day, all the talk by progressives and modern liberals regarding the living Consitiution always assumes that living constitutional changes expand the power of the State, when it can just as easily limit the power of government and reduce the influence of the State until it withers away and is replaced by a new private sector liberty and free market.
To fall for the demagoguery again, and to believe that only government can bring about progress and the betterment of all concerned, is suicidal, especially when we take into account where the New Deal has led and how the myriad interventions since FDR have created real fear and uncertainty in business people, thus freezing our economy and shutting off the wealth generation machine used up by progressives, liberals and GOP moderates. The same thing happened, is happening, in Europe.