Conservatives, Liberals, and the Constitution

"Conservatives, Liberals, and the Constitution." Left, Right, and Center: Essays on Conservatism and Liberalism in the United States. Ed. Robert A. Goldwin. 2d. Ed. ed. Chicago: Rand-McNally, 1967. 60-86.

Written as a discussion paper for a conference exploring aspects of liberalism and conservatism in America and published in Left, Right, and Center, edited by Robert A. Goldwin, this essay suggests that neither left nor right has an accurate understanding of our constitutional system, and its reliance upon “auxiliary precautions” that constrain and moderate popular majorities. In the mid-1960s, when the essay was written, liberals tended to deplore and conservatives to celebrate the Constitution’s constraints on majority rule. In the post-Reagan era, that division is not so clear—indeed, to some extent, liberals and conservatives have switched positions, with conservatives seemingly more “populistic” than liberals. Nonetheless, Diamond’s fundamental point—that rigid ideological interpretations obscure the wisdom and subtlety of the founders’ handiwork—is thereby only reconfirmed.

National Affairs [pdf]
AEI Program on American Citizenship [pdf]