In March, the Speaker informed us thusly:
"I want to talk about what our country can be…about what our Founders envisioned it to be. America is the only nation founded an idea—not an identity. That idea is the notion that the condition of your birth does not determine the outcome of your life. Our rights are natural. They come from God, not government."
George Mason, principal author of the Fairfax County Resolves of 1774 in response to the Coercive Acts, in 1776 begged to differ:
"We claim nothing but the liberty and privileges of Englishmen in the same degree, as if we had continued among our brethren in Great Britain."
So also Supreme Court Justice Joseph Bradley in 1873:
"The people of this country brought with them to its shores the rights of Englishmen, the rights which had been wrested from English sovereigns at various periods of the nation's history.... England has no written constitution, it is true, but it has an unwritten one, resting in the acknowledged, and frequently declared, privileges of Parliament and the people, to violate which in any material respect would produce a revolution in an hour. A violation of one of the fundamental principles of that constitution in the Colonies, namely, the principle that recognizes the property of the people as their own, and which, therefore, regards all taxes for the support of government as gifts of the people through their representatives, and regards taxation without representation as subversive of free government, was the origin of our own revolution."
What's wrong with conservatism in America is that it has forgotten all this, if it ever knew it at all.