Historian and Thomas Jefferson scholar David Barton says the choice is clear when it comes to the 2016 presidential candidate Thomas Jefferson would endorse.
“Jefferson would eliminate 80 percent of the candidates,” said Barton. But after that, he said, “one of the last guys standing would be [Ted] Cruz.”
Barton, who serves as head as of the pro-Cruz Keep the Promise political action committee, told WND Cruz is the candidate who comes closest to Jefferson and what he believes were the third president’s principles on “debt, religious liberty, and the war on Islam.”
Barton argues the ideas of the Founding Fathers, especially those of Thomas Jefferson, are just as relevant to politics today as they were in their own time. Barton explores those ideas, and what he sees as their distortion by biased historians and journalists, in the new edition of his bestselling book “The Jefferson Lies.”
“The reason that Jefferson matters is because what he worked for are principles, not the specifics,” Barton said. “I think there’s more than a specific issue. On the concepts of individual freedom, limited government, and economic soundness, Jefferson would sound like a presidential candidate today.”
Barton has been explaining Jefferson’s continuing importance to American politics in a series of interviews, including with leading conservative spokesman Glenn Beck.
Barton told Beck the Founding Fathers are an obstacle for those who want to fundamentally transform America.
“The Founding Fathers, if you can get them gone, you can move America in a new direction because they are still our anchor to certain principles,” Barton told Beck. “I don’t mean to the past, I mean to principles. These guys were so cool and the documents they wrote were not specific. I mean, they didn’t talk about their transportation back then, which was horses, they didn’t talk about their communication, which was mail. They talked about principles. And that’s why 200 years later we can use their documents with complete certainty.”
Both Barton and Beck considered Jefferson, above all other Founding Fathers, the ideological cornerstone of the American Revolution and the nation’s founding principles. While Washington was more important historically, Beck argued, even now America “falls apart” if Jefferson is removed from the pantheon of American heroes.
Barton agreed and suggested Jefferson provides invaluable guidance for contemporary policymakers.
“He’s the limited government guy, he’s the guy who says courts aren’t supposed to be running this, he’s the guy who talks marriage and morals, he’s the guy who talks about gun control is wrong, he’s the guy who defends the free market, all the things we’re fighting right now, he’s the guy who speaks to all of it,” Barton declared.
See the Beck interview:
Barton also alleged Democrats have turned on Jefferson, ostensibly the founder of their party. And he called it appropriate.
“Actually, they ought to!” he exclaimed. “They have nothing in common with Jefferson anymore. I mean, there’s no question about it. You take any of the major policies they hold today, he was so far against debt, he was so far against government growth, he was so far against spending, you take anything they do, he would not.”
Barton also decried the ignorance surrounding Thomas Jefferson and contemporary importance of his message in a recent interview with talk show host and “Antidote” author Jesse Lee Peterson.
“One thing is for sure, mankind’s principles don’t change over time,” Barton claimed. “And so we hear today that, ‘Oh, those guys who wrote our Constitution, they rode horses, they didn’t know what the Internet was, they surely can’t help us today.’ But in my case, I happen to be a pilot, and I’m a pilot because 400 years ago Newton came up with the laws of motion, particularly the second law of motion and that’s why I can fly.
“I scuba dive. We do that because over 400 years ago Robert Boyle came up with Boyle’s law of gases which allows me to do that.
“There are so many things we do that we were based on very old principles. That was the cool thing about the founding of our country, our Constitution; it doesn’t talk about specifics like the Internet or horses. It talks about principles of mankind and those principles do not change over time. That’s why Ecclesiastes 1:9 tells us there’s nothing new under the sun.”
Barton told Peterson the Founding Fathers dealt with specific issues familiar to Americans today. He suggested Americans look to them and learn from their experience.
“Two hundred years ago, the Founding Fathers dealt with abortion,” said Barton. “They dealt with marriage laws, they dealt with homosexuality in the military, they dealt with whether the federal government should bail out private businesses ‘too big to fail.’ Everything we’re going through now, they already dealt with and so we can learn from history if we’re willing to do so.”
Barton said the reason “The Jefferson Lies” is so important is because Jefferson’s principles, and the argument over his principles, continues to shape American politics.
“The problem is not so much ignorance of Jefferson himself, it’s ignorance of the principles Jefferson espoused,” said Barton. “We don’t study the principles and how they were articulated.”
Barton suggested Americans familiarize themselves with Jefferson’s views on debt, freedom of conscience, morality, and what he called Jefferson’s true views on the separation of church and state, which Barton argued is often presented as the “opposite of what Jefferson actually said.”
And the historian suggested Jefferson’s principles can still serve as a guide for Americans preparing to vote for president.
“Jefferson would ignore party labels,” Barton told WND. “He would act as he always did, by his principles.”