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It’s in the verbs: Hubert Humphrey makes the case for an active government

In this video, Humphrey emphasizes the preamble’s verbs to make the case that the Framers wanted the government they were “ordaining” and “establishing” to do stuff, big stuff, to be active and specifically to be active in making life better for those who would be governed.

This is a follow-up to my Wednesday post, with credit to my fellow MinnPost contributor, economist Louis Johnston.

The takeoff point for my previous piece focused on the verb “promote” in the Constitution, where it says, right in the preamble, that one of the jobs of proposed U.S. constitutional republic would be to “promote” the “general welfare.”

I don’t suppose a liberal will ever gain much ground in an argument with a conservative by citing the preamble’s description of the government’s purpose as, at least in part, to “promote the general welfare.”

But Hubert Humphrey apparently did think that the verbs in the preamble were a pretty good guide to understanding how the Framers thought the Constitution would and should be used. I know this in particular because Louis Johnston sent me a fuzzy video, with very clear audio, of Humphrey reciting great chunks of the preamble with special emphasis on the nine verbs it contains. He emphasizes the verbs to make the case that the Framers wanted this new government they were “ordaining” and “establishing” to do stuff, big stuff, to be active and specifically to be active in making life better for those who would be governed by the new government the Framers had just framed.

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So I’ll embed the video below, with a warning that it’s visually fuzzy, but watchable, and Humphrey’s point is very, very clear. It’s in the verbs. It’s an action plan.