Former South Carolina senator Jim DeMint doesn’t let history get in the way of his argument that the U.S. government didn’t end slavery:
DeMint: This progressive, the whole idea of being progressive is to progress away from those ideas that made this country great. What we’re trying to conserve as conservative are those things that work. They work today, they work for young people, they work for minorities and we can change this country and change its course very quickly if we just remember what works.
Newcombe: What if somebody, let’s say you’re talking with a liberal person and they were to turn around and say, ‘that Founding Fathers thing worked out really well, look at that Civil War we had eighty years later.’
DeMint: Well the reason that the slaves were eventually freed was the Constitution, it was like the conscience of the American people. Unfortunately there were some court decisions like Dred Scott and others that defined some people as property, but the Constitution kept calling us back to ‘all men are created equal and we have inalienable rights’ in the minds of God. But a lot of the move to free the slaves came from the people, it did not come from the federal government. It came from a growing movement among the people, particularly people of faith, that this was wrong. People like Wilberforce who persisted for years because of his faith and because of his love for people. So no liberal is going to win a debate that big government freed the slaves. In fact, it was Abraham Lincoln, the very first Republican, who took this on as a cause and a lot of it was based on a love in his heart that comes from God.
While DeMint is right that the abolitionist movement in the U.S. played an essential role in shaping white Americans’ views of slavery as an immoral institution, it still took a civil war, prosecuted by the national government and the nation’s armed forces, to make it happen. The U.S. didn’t “love” slavery away.
I also wonder what some of the libertarians, such as Thomas DiLorenzo, will think about DeMint’s perspective on Lincoln as not being representative of “big government.”