• Heritage Action
  • More

Where Big Government Came From

Recorded on June 14, 2007

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

 

The administrative state in America today co-exists uneasily and often incoherently with the principles of our Constitution.  While the dubious constitutional status of administrative agencies and the manner in which these agencies make policy has been acknowledged by some on the right and the left, the origins of the administrative state are not well understood.  Built primarily to implement the programs of the New Deal, the roots of the administrative state actually go much deeper, into the Progressive Era.  It was Progressives who launched the first open, full-scale assault on the ideas that inform our Constitution.  Part of that assault, made primarily by the likes of Woodrow Wilson and Frank Goodnow, looked to replace the separation of powers and government by consent of the people with a system that centralized national power in the hands of unelected experts.  To understand the administrative state today thus requires understanding the impact of Progressivism on constitutional government in America.

 

Dr. Ronald J. Pestritto is Associate Professor of Political Science at Hillsdale College and holds the Charles and Lucia Shipley Chair in the American Constitution.  He is also a Senior Fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy.  He has published six books, including the recently released Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism.