James MacGregor Burns: Enemy of the Constitution and Mentor to Liberals Dies

It’s my guess that you have never heard of James MacGregor Burns. He was a Saul Alinsky who had a longer career.

It’s the guys behind the scenes that are most troubling to our Republic. They work at dismantling the foundation stones of what made America the envy of the world in near anonymity. Instead of appearing on talk shows and leading rallies, they write and teach, year after year subverting young impressionable minds that become judges, teachers, and social activists.

Such was Professor James MacGregor Burns. I don’t know if President Obama read his works, but it looks like he swallowed his worldview hook, line, and a way to sink US.


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After a career that saw him teaching at Williams College in Massachusetts for 40 years, Professor James MacGregor Burns entered into eternity on July 15, 2014. Widely heralded as a champion of numerous left-wing causes he never abandoned, he authored 20 books and influenced many thousands of students.

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Friends and admirers have always lauded his works, especially his biographies of Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy and Edward Kennedy. For what he wrote about FDR, including a slight slap on the President’s wrist for not tying our nation more tightly to the USSR during WWII, he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. In 1958, he won the Democratic Party nomination for a seat in the U.S. House for the First Congressional District in Massachusetts, but was soundly defeated in the Fall election.

A life-long advocate of restructuring the U.S. Constitution to steer more power to the Executive Branch, Burns issued a 1984 work entitled “The Power to Lead: The Crisis of the American Presidency.” In it, he urged a rewrite of portions of the Constitution during the forthcoming bi-centennial celebrations of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, the 1789 ratification of a new Constitution, and the 1791 addition of the Bill of Rights to the new “law of the land.”

Obituaries characterizing Burns as a forward-looking thinker mentioned his “The Power to Lead” but failed to call attention to its truly controversial (revolutionary?) plans for America. It was in this book that Burns wrote of his disdain for the American system of limited government, preferring instead creation of an imperial presidency vested with greatly enhanced powers.  He wrote:

“Let us face reality. The framers [of the Constitution] have simply been too shrewd for us. They have outwitted us. They designed separate institution [branches] that cannot be unified by mechanical linkages, frail bridges, tinkering. If we are to ‘turn the founders upside down’ – to put together what they put asunder – we must directly confront the constitutional structure they erected.”

Read the rest of the article at InsideJBS.

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