2012 Election: Who Would Ben Franklin Support?

It should be rather obvious from this blog’s banner and tagline, and from our occasional political posts, that we are thoroughly devoted to the philosophical and political principals of the Enlightenment, the American Revolution, and the Constitution.

It’s difficult to choose just one of the Founding Fathers who best embodies all of those principles, but we’ve settled on Benjamin Franklin. He was, of course, on the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence, after which he played a vital role as ambassador to France during the Revolution. He was later present at the Constitutional Convention. Besides being a best-selling author, he also prospered as an entrepreneur by — in effect — franchising his printing business throughout the states. He was also a noted inventor (Franklin stove, lightning rod, etc.). Additionally, he was one of the foremost scientists of his day (although that word wasn’t then in use), pioneering in electricity and in exploration of the Gulf Stream. Not enough? He became an abolitionist, and on top of all that he was a philanthropist. So Franklin is our model.

Okay, what of it? Our point is that in choosing a candidate for the upcoming US presidential election in 2012, we’ve boiled it all down to one simple question: Who would Franklin support? (Yes, we know that should be “whom.”)

As a self-made man who grew wealthy through what we easily recognize as the free enterprise system (property rights, freedom of contract, free markets, etc.) it’s abundantly clear — at least to us — that he wouldn’t support anyone from today’s Democrat party. Had they been running things in his day they’d have taxed and regulated him out of business; and his inventing and scientific work would have got him in trouble with the municipal zoning inspectors. There’s really nothing to debate about that. Fine, but what about the opposition party?

We’ve said a lot about the Republicans before, most recently here: Open Letter to Republican Presidential Hopefuls. That post links to many of our earlier efforts on the same topic. We also agonized over the same issues just before the 2010 elections (see Creationism and Politics: Aaaargh!!), so we won’t repeat what we’ve already said.

Back to our title question: Who would Franklin support? Knowing what we do of Franklin, that’s not a difficult question. In today’s parlance, Franklin would unquestionably be described as a scientist. Although he died almost 70 years before Darwin wrote Origin of Species, there is no doubt — at least in our mind — that he would have seen great merit in the theory of evolution. So would virtually all of the Founders, as they too were devoted to reason and science.

You doubt that? Get serious! In the Constitution — than which there is no higher authority — it says, in Article I:

Section 8. The Congress shall have power … To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries; …

That’s right, dear reader. The Framers of the Constitution were sufficiently aware of the importance of science that they provided Congress with the power to create the US Patent office. You can add that to their manifest intention to avoid the perils of theocracy, about which see Is America a “Christian Nation”?

Where does all of that leave us? It’s quite clear that Franklin couldn’t support today’s Dem party. He would also be horrified that the opposition party seems so opposed to science. How did it come to this? One party opposes free enterprise; the other opposes reason and science. Franklin liked them both, and so do we.

The Dems already have their candidate; and we know what he’s all about. Therefore, unless the Republicans nominate someone who clearly isn’t a creationist, we’re convinced that Franklin wouldn’t support either party’s candidate. And neither will we.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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22 responses to “2012 Election: Who Would Ben Franklin Support?

  1. America has been prosperous and innovative under both democratic and republican administrations, and various tax levels. I don’t think there is a direct, simplistic connection between overall prosperity and the party in power or the taxes. Besides, a lot will happen over the next year and we may not yet know the issues that will dominate the 2012 campaign.

    So, are there any republicans currently likely to run, who understand and support investments in science and a strong public education system, who support clear separation of church and state, who advocate a free market with appropriate controls, who understand the overall environmental picture and the need to address the problems, and who strongly stand for a political system free of corruption? Will any republican run only honest campaign ads, and refuse to pander to particularly powerful special interest groups?

    That one, Ben might support. I don’t think we’ve seen ’em yet.

  2. I wish at times that we could get rid of the Democrats and Republicans and have campaigns between the Greens and the Libertarians. Until they became beholden to special interests, they’d represent the intellectually consistent position of the left and the right, and since they actually share some thinking, a better set of compromises would be possible.

  3. You’re a funny man asking both parties to stop pandering to their political bases.

  4. ohioobserver

    I don’t agree about the Democratic Party as a business-killer. Capitalism is like steering a sailing vessel running before the wind; the wind dictates the general direction, but to keep a steady course you still have to keep your hand on the tiller. Regulation and taxes are not bad things; just that, like business itself and its potential excesses, they need to be watched carefully. American capitalism isn’t simple, and anyone who thinks it is is missing the best part of it.

  5. Talk radio buzz has Romney in the lead. Last I heard he was OK with evolution.

  6. SC, I hope you will support my candidacy in 2012. I will be running as the candidate of the Liberty and Equality for Transformation of the State Party. Our slogan is in our name: LETS PARTY!

  7. Go ahead and run, SY. Tell ’em you’re endorsed by the Curmudgeon.

  8. SC, et. al.

    I’m curious about your thoughts on Obama’s budget speech the other night.

  9. Actually, the Republicans of today would have sided firmly with the owners of the tea importing vessels in Boston Harbor. Laissez faire economics creates a slave class…which we are rapidly in the process of seeing.

    Also…..some of us teachers are having an impossible time finding jobs (my wife and I are currently looking at five different states to find work. Ben supported public education. Which party supports that now?

  10. ogremkv says:

    I’m curious about your thoughts on Obama’s budget speech the other night.

    Politicians’ speeches are like a harlot’s cries of ecstasy. No one takes that stuff seriously; it’s just part of the service. With politicians, all that matters is their record of results, not the noises they make.

  11. OK, Let’s put it this way, what do you think of the Republican plan to balance the budget vs. the President’s plan to balance the budget (or begin the process)?

    Or, if one plan was to be inacted, as is, which would you prefer?

    I’m not trying to be a jerk. I’m honestly curious.

  12. Gabriel Hanna

    @Bryan Trim:Actually, the Republicans of today would have sided firmly with the owners of the tea importing vessels in Boston Harbor. Laissez faire economics creates a slave class…

    I hope you’re not the teacher who was arguing with me a few weeks ago, are you? Because tea taxes and the Navigation Acts and such are examples of mercantilism, which is almost the polar opposite of lassez faire policies. If you don’t know what lassez faire means, thank a teacher!

    Both parties today have protectionist and free-trade wings.

  13. Gabriel Hanna

    @ogremkv: OK, Let’s put it this way, what do you think of the Republican plan to balance the budget vs. the President’s plan to balance the budget (or begin the process)?

    The President has so far not offered a plan. He has convened budget commissions, rejected their recommendations, and promised to set up a new one.

    The Ryan plan is not fiscally very impressive, but it’s far more impressive than NO plan at all.

    Which is too bad because the President campaigned against deficits and made a lot of promises regarding fiscal responsibility that have yet to materialize.

    Currently we have one party that pretends to cut spending and one that refuses to pretend.

  14. Gabriel Hanna

    @Bryan Trim:


    The Navigation Acts were repealed in 1849 under the influence of a laissez-faire philosophy. The Navigation Acts were passed under the economic theory of mercantilism under which wealth was to be increased by restricting trade to colonies rather than with free trade.

    Hope you’re not teaching American history.

  15. Gabriel Hanna

    Ogre, that;s the 2012 budget. You were asking about “what do you think of the Republican plan to balance the budget vs. the President’s plan to balance the budget (or begin the process)?”

    What you linked to is not that, it is one year’s proposed budget. The President has not presented anything analagous ro the Ryan plan.

  16. OK, so what he said in his speech doesn’t count. I guess we’ll have to wait then.

  17. Gabriel Hanna

    Doesn’t matter anyway. I’m sure the President will have something, and it will be just like the Republican one only spending a few hundred billion more and collecting a few hundred billion more in taxes. Neither party is interested in any kind of real reduction in spending.

    As you can see here, the differences in spending growth are not very significant.


  18. Gabriel Hanna

    @ogre:OK, so what he said in his speech doesn’t count.

    Speech != plan for future budgets. Anybody can talk about how they are going to reduce this and increase that.

    The Ryan plan you are comparing a SPEECH to is 73 pages. Now I’m not saying that what’s in there is necessarily going to happen, and it contains lots of tendentious assumptions. But it can’t be compared to words in a speech.

  19. Benjamin Franklin would support Kent Hovind, since all the Founding Fathers, while they differed in their specific religious views, would have had no difficulty in noting that evolutionary theory has no basic in logic. They were educated and literate men, who also knew the definition of “natural born citizen,” I might add. Very few of our contemporaries today, whether or not they have been p/t ‘professors of Constitutional Law,’ have the mental ability to finesse the required legal arguments. Hovind possesses a Ph.D. degree from Patriot University, a very apt name in my opinion. The graduate degrees offered by this institution are granted upon completion of a mentored reading program, similar to the methods employed at Oxford. However, it is the fact that the curriculum at Patriot University is Christian and Bible-based which offends some people. I have no association with Dr. Hovind’s alma mater, but considering the subsequent crimes committed by some of the graduates of both Harvard and Oxford, I suggest giving Patriot University the benefit of the doubt — particularly as Dr. Hovind and his wife were imprisoned unjustly, as due diligence would clearly establish. Therefore, I repeat my assumption that Benjamin Franklin would endorse Dr. Hovind, as do I.

  20. No no, I understand, words on print are better than spoken words.

    Of course, As SC said, what politicans say and write has no bearing on what they do or what actually happens.

    I’m just fascinated by the total refusal to even discuss…