There is no magic in government

Coolidge, in a speech called Have Faith in Massachusetts, expressed a different idea: “Don’t hurry to legislate.” There are natural limitations to what human law can accomplish, and we should not delude ourselves with false expectations. “There is danger of disappointment and disaster,” Coolidge said, unless we understand and appreciate what law can and cannot do. What legislation cannot do, and should not attempt to do, is provide “some short cut to perfection.” As we saw recently during the gun control debate, “When legislation fails, those who look upon it as a sovereign remedy simply cry out for more legislation.”

Invoking the American founders, Coolidge often argued that law “loses its sanctity and authority” when it is “changed and changeable on slight provocation.” In other words, in order to inculcate respect and reverence for the rule of law, reform should be a difficult and arduous task, requiring much time and extensive deliberation. “It is much more important,” Coolidge said, “to kill bad bills than to pass good ones,” because there is no immediate remedy and complete solution in any act of Congress. “There is no magic in government,” he cautioned.

Amen.

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