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Constitutional Safeguards Against Socialism

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The US Constitution creates a balanced system of government that is uniquely equipped to resist socialism. It divides up power among many sources and gives Americans time to reflect on the desirability of proposed changes, making violent revolutions or rapid upheaval unlikely. This system also allows government to consistently ensure the basic protection of natural rights.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How do socialist revolutions jeopardize the rights ensured in the Bill of Rights?
  2. How does the governmental system established by the Constitution protect against socialism?

Additional Resources:

  • To learn more, read “Socialism and the Constitution,” by Michael McConnell. Available here.
  • Watch “The Bill of Rights with Michael McConnell” on PolicyEd. Available here.
  • To learn more, read “Socialism vs. the American Constitutional Structure: The Advantages of Decentralization and Federalism,” by John Yoo. Available here.
View Transcript

After the ratification of the Constitution, 

the First Congress passed the Bill of Rights in order to add protections for basic natural rights. 

Among them are two of the most basic protections for individuals. 

The first is the freedom of conscience and communication: the ability of all people to think for themselves, say what they believe publicly, and attempt to persuade others. 

The second is the set of protections geared toward protecting life, liberty, and property. 

They stipulate that no one can be deprived of their rights without a fair trial and due process before the law. 

But are these protections sufficient to protect against a socialist revolution? 

After all, revolutionaries do not typically respect written constitutions. 

The last century witnessed many revolutions where constitutions were annulled. 

Self-appointed leaders purporting to speak in the name of the people deposed elected governments and brought an end to private property. 

Fortunately, beyond its expressed limits on government, the U.S. Constitution also created a system of government that makes violent revolutions or rapid upheaval unlikely. 

It divides power among three branches at the national level, fifty different states, and thousands of municipalities, with authority further divided among police, militia, and the military. 

The Constitution’s checks and balances make it difficult for anyone, whatever their ideology, to achieve rapid and transformative change. 

Instead, the system gives the American people time to reflect on whether the proposed changes are really desirable.