Ken Cuccinelli's Liberty and Justice for All

Review of The Last Line of Defense: The New Fight for American Liberty by Ken Cuccinelli

Ronald Reagan delivered a speech at the 1964 Republican convention that launched his political career and distinguished him as the conservative leader of his generation.  That speech articulated conservatism as the positive encapsulation and embodiment of preserving freedom for all Americans.  It is still referred to as "the speech."

Virginia Attorney General and candidate for governor Ken Cuccinelli has written "the book" that not only is the vision of conservative principles for 2013 and beyond, it is what conservatism is and always should have been about.  It is a masterpiece about the fight between liberty and all-engulfing big government with an insatiable appetite for power over everything in our lives.

"The book" is a deeply insightful articulation of the real basis for why America is great - not perfect - just greater than any other nation ever established.  American government is based on the presumption that humans are flawed, and government is necessarily comprised, as James Madison explained, of flawed men (and women). 

The Last Line of Defense is part history book, part chronicle of Cuccinelli's legal battles against the Obama administration, especially ObamaCare, and it is entirely a statement espousing the conservative philosophy of governing.  Cuccinelli provides a vision of what conservatism is, and why it is better for all people than the alternatives of pure liberalism or big-government Republicanism in the era and with the retrospect of an Obama presidency, with what tens of millions of Americans thought was an improbable if not impossible destruction of individual liberties and generation-crushing deficits.

Cuccinelli begins by describing what we could only wish every elected American leader understood as clearly as Ken writes it:  the purpose of the American rule of law, beginning with our written supreme law, the Constitution.  The American rule of law is unique in that its purpose is to protect liberty by actually governing and limiting government.  That, by itself, has distinguished America from every country on earth since its founding. 

It is an eternal principle.  "The framers knew that our leaders would be human and fallible, and that no matter what age in history - whether 976 or 1776 or 2076 - those leaders not bound by a set of laws would seek power at the cost of the people's liberty," writes Cuccinelli.

"The book" is about the most powerful and positive message ever developed by Man:  that we are individuals, our rights come from God not government, and that the people have established a written law that governs government to protect each individual's liberty.  When that rule of law becomes corrupted, as statists have done for decades, we lose our liberty, and hence America's greatest strength is whittled away and atrophies.

Cuccinelli provides a statesman-like articulation of these principles, then provides an insider's look into his battles against the Obama administration, which he describes as "the biggest set of lawbreakers in America."  The book is sprinkled with his wit and humor.  He writes about the Environmental Protection Agency's repeatedly "violating the law yet again (once you start, it's hard to stop, and it can become a nasty habit)."

That the Obama administration is America's biggest lawbreaker is not the political pejorative one may think coming from a Republican.  Cuccinelli explains convincingly why it is fact:  The Obama administration has "exercise[d] control over the American people that it didn't have the authority to exercise, and in the process, it trampled the sovereignty of the states, violated federal law, ignored federal courts, and violated the Constitution to achieve its goal of redistributing wealth."

Obama's lawbreaking has victims numbering the entire American population.  And, Cuccinelli does not let Republican lawbreaking escape without notice.

Those worrying that the book by this engineer-educated lawyer/politician would delve into a legalistic or political exercise will come to see that his book is anything but that.  Cuccinelli, with longtime 'aide de plume' Brian Gottstein, give what may be the finest articulation of principles that shape what America represents -- finer than any politician or lawyer has, certainly in recent memory. 

It is the structure of our Constitution that must be understood to know why it was written to protect individual liberty.  We often speak of the separation of powers, checks and balances, federalism, the Bill of Rights, and consent of the governed, yet we too frequently do not understand their purpose, which is but one.  Those features of the Constitution were meticulously debated.  The result was a supreme law that constitutes government to protect the individual liberty of all Americans.  It is unlike a code of laws over people; it is the law that established and governs government.

Cuccinelli first, and several other state attorneys general later, understood that the nature of federalism meant that states would need to clash with the federal government to protect liberty.

As he chronicles his lawsuit against ObamaCare (and he being no hesitant leader was the first to file suit, and the first to win any court case against Obamacare), he simultaneously engages in a tutorial about why the Founders limited government, why government was not meant to replace charity and cannot, and why the government can never match the economics espoused by intellectual giants such as Milton Friedman, Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell. 

This is a man who not only understands America's principles, he explains them in ways that make you wonder why everyone doesn't.

The Last Line of Defense is a must read for conservatives, Tea Partiers, libertarians, students of government, students of law, and anyone who cares about the future of America.  Even Democrats will learn that Cuccinelli's brand of conservatism is grounded in the most basic, thoughtful and positive American principles, their demagoguery notwithstanding.  In fact every voter and candidate for office would do well to read it.  It is the present and the future based on timeless principles.