Evil intentions

The most serious threat to good government and freedom in America is not posed by evil-minded men and women. It is posed by legislative and judicial activists and other sincere persons of the best intentions, who are bent on remaking America in the image of their own thinking.

Sen. Sam Ervin, 1985


The late Senator Samuel J. Ervin, Jr. (D-N.C.) was a venerable “simple country lawyer” from North Carolina, who in 1954 debated to censure Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy. The late William Safire, journalist, speech writer for Pres. Nixon and columnist for the New York Times, quoted one of Sen. Ervin’s comments from that debate in his “Political Dictionary.” That was a homespun analogy by Ervin under the dictionary entry: “Quoted out of context.”

Ervin was noted for his down home stories often used to make some political point. In that case he criticized McCarthy: “I know that the lifting of statements out of context is a typical McCarthy technique…practiced by a preacher in North Carolina about 75 years ago.” He then went on to tell his tale.

I don’t know the context of the statement at the top of this page attributed to Sen. Ervin (found at www.abbevilleinstitute.org), but, in my opinion, it’s a valid idea that can be discussed as it stands. Ervin denied that evil-minded people threaten us. He also suggested that “activists” in and out of government were sincere and had “best intentions.” Yet he warned that they were a serious threat to freedom in America because they want to change our historical structure. Thirty years ago Sen. Ervin recognized what we now face from people in his own political party.

Of course the Democrat Party (I drop the “ic” from the name because, as Leonard Hall, a Republican National Chairman in 1955 said, “I think their claims that they represent the great mass of the people, and we don’t, is just a lot of bunk”) has swerved radically left from its original conservative (compassionate?) American values—largely the reason that Southern Democrats have turned toward the less corrupted and dangerous Republican Party.

Sam Ervin’s statement clearly illustrates the deep ideological gap between our two-party system in America. Ironically, Democrat activists in government and their supporters from without, identified by Sen. Ervin, now pose the greatest threat to proper government and freedom in America. We can no longer excuse their behavior because of “good intentions.” For example, consider the latest power grab of the formerly freely operating Internet by the political appointees on the Federal Communications Commission.

I disagree with Ervin on the point about intentions: much of them result in burdensome regulations, unjustifiable costs and expanded coercive government; and, if not “evil” they certainly can be described as immoral. We no longer have “good” government because of insincere activists with deceptive intentions “bent on remaking America in the image of their own thinking.” I believe they are truly evil intentions, in the context of American founding principles and constitutional law.


About R. E. Smith Jr.

Mr. Smith writes essays and commentary on politics, American history, environment, higher education and culture. He's been published in print media and at blog sites for about 25 years. Smith's formal education includes B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University of New York and Syracuse University. He has earned a 21-credit hour Certificate in Professional Writing from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Training/work experience: NYS Ranger School; U. S. Army, Corp of Engineers; soil scientist and forester with USDA; Assoc. Professor at SUNY; real estate agent; small business owner.
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