Like many Tea Party aspirants, the junior senator from Alberta, Ted Cruz, has a favorite Thomas Jefferson quote he evokes almost every time he speaks.
During his announcement of his candidacy last month at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, to a crowd of students forced to attend on penalty of receiving a fine, Cruz declared, “The purpose of the Constitution, as Thomas Jefferson put it, is to serve as chains to bind the mischief of government.” There is just one problem; Jefferson never said that.
What Jefferson actually said was, “…in questions of power then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution.”
So the question hanging in the air is, “Why would Senator Cruz change a quote to mean something completely opposite of what was originally intended?”
Jefferson’s original quote is very clear that what the constitution is keeping from mischief by binding it down by its chains is not the government but man. It is not the constitution binding the Federal government because of its mischief, but binding the people who would create mischief if there were no Federal power to hold them in check. Mischief the likes of not allowing someone of a different color eating in your restaurant, or drinking from your drinking fountain or catering a same-sex wedding for so-called “religious” reasons.
The Senator’s quote sounds majestic; it is too bad he made it up.