Skip to comments.Foundations of the Constitution Part 1: The Need for a New American Revolution
Posted on 09/06/2001 7:55:50 AM PDT by Sir Gawain
It was a few years ago when I received a note informing me that Jim Lewis had died. Jim and I were friends, allies, and partners in one published book Liberty Reclaimed. In addition we had been working together, on and off over time, on a sequel to Liberty Reclaimed. Jim would do the basic research and compile it and then send it to me and I would write it, polish it somewhat, add new material and send it back to Jim.
Jim was a serious scholar. For years he worked for a book binding company and as part of his work he travelled the country meeting with the libraries at the top universities. Jim would meet with the library officials and then spend the rest of the day going through the stacks. His one passion was researching and understanding the origins of the American Constitutional system. As will become apparent below, Jim's passion turned him into a scholar of the highest standards.
After Jim drew conclusions as to the nature of the US Constitution he became a committed libertarian. He ran for US Senate in Connecticut, which is where we first worked together. Jim and I would meet now and then in his home in Old Saybrook and he would pull out the most recent rare book on Constitutional law that he had recently located. In 1984 Jim decided to run as the Libertarian vice presidential candidate. It was then that he first approached me to write Liberty Reclaimed. He handed me a stack of notes he had made and said he wanted to included these in the book. Otherwise I was free to organize it as I saw fit.
Over the next few weeks I would write a chapter and Jim would read it offering suggestions. Soon we had finished Jim's campaign book the first and only time an LP vice presidential candidate had his own election book.
In the first month of publication alone we sold something like 30,000 copies of Liberty Reclaimed. All in all our final sales figures were close to 50,000 copies making it one of the best selling libertarian books in recent years.
Since Jim's death I have continued to work on his notes for the new book, hoping someday to finish the entire project. It appears, however, unlikely that without Jim's personal touch it will ever be finished. But those chapters which were close to completion should not be lost to the world. I have compiled some of those sections here for a multi-article series. I can assure you that just reading this portion of the manuscript is the equivalent to a university level history course on Constitutional theory and law. Perhaps some day I will have them published as an uncompleted book but in the meantime I think it would please Jim, a real libertarian hero, that they are being made available to anyone interested enough to take the time to read them.
Consider a woman standing in the great hall of an old marble train station. In the background you can hear the metallic sound of wheels sliding gracefully across the frozen iron tracks. The shuffle of feet echo throughout the great hall bouncing from the high ceilings and glistening walls. She sees the ticket window and shuffles over. The clerk looks at her. She says, "I would like a ticket please."
"Yes, mam." he pauses and waits, but she says nothing. She just stares at him. "I said I would like a ticket, young man."
"Yes, mam. I heard you but what ticket do you want?"
"For the train of course."
"Mam, we only sell train tickets but for which train?"
"Does it really matter which train?"
"It most certainly does. One train leaves for Chicago. Another is heading to Miami. Several are locals. Before you can know which train to ride you have to decide where you want to go."
The woman is amazed, perhaps even baffled. "I don't like this place. I want to go someplace else."
"Fine, but where?"
"Someplace better. I don't like this town. There's too much unemployment, too much crime, no good schools. You know what I mean."
"Well mam, there are other towns that have more crime, greater unemployment and worse schools. You wouldn't want to go there. It still comes down to this. Before you buy the ticket for the train you have to know where you want to go."
Imagine for a moment the board room of a major business. Around the table sit the executives, the CEO, major stockholders and the board of directors. A young architect walks into the room to discuss with these officials the new building he is designing for this company. Millions of dollars will be spent, the building is a long-term project that will effect the future of the company. It is the architect's first meeting with these important officials. He hesitates and then begins, "I am honored that you have selected me to design this new building for your company. The millions of dollars you have allocated to this project will be wisely spent." The officials begin nodding their heads and small smiles can be seen on their faces. "Before I begin, before we can even discuss anything else I must know one thing." The officials freeze and concentrate intently on what the architect has to say. "What is the prime purpose of this building? What function will it serve? Will it be a warehouse, a factory, a product outlet, a corporate headquarters?" The officials all stare at each other stumped by this question. They have no answer. They simply wanted a building because other corporations have buildings. No specific function was being considered.
These two stories sound absurd and well they should. A world where such actions would be understandable would be a world that would be an unfit place for mankind to live. Before an architect can build he must know the function of the building. The form or structure of the building is secondary, the function primary. A building that is meant to be a shopping mall will be fundamentally different from a factory, a hotel, a school or a home. Each of these buildings serve a different function and once the function has been determined the form the building will take can be decided. Before we jump on a train we must know where we want to go. These are self-evident yet people continually ignore this same self-evident principle when it comes to politics.
Today in countries around the world, places like the Soviet Union, Poland, and South Africa people are debating. And the issue is the same. As old regimes crumble the people debate what form of government they will institute as the replacement. But something fundamental is missing from that debate. While everyone chants in unison for the need for an undefined, vague "democratic" government no one is asking the most fundamental of all questions. While everyone debates what form the new governments will take no one is asking what function these governments will perform. Like the confused business executives or the baffled woman in the train station they are attempting to decide form before deciding function. The self-evident principle that form is determined by function has been forgotten. The debate is taking place in a philosophical vacuum and the debate is meaningless. The only issue worth debating is what functions will these new governments serve. Once that question is answered and only after that question is answered can the issue of what form of government shall be instituted be rationally discussed.
In the United States that is how the debate was conducted. When the colonies revolted against the tyranny of the King they did so with a clear and common goal. They had come to understand the necessity of philosophy. They rejected the monarchy but not because it was a monarchy alone. Such a reason simply investigates form and ignores function. The American Revolution was centered on the issue of what function should be served by a government. The monarchy was rejected because it did not serve the legitimate function of government: to protect the rights of the individual to his life, his liberty, and his property. They revolted because not only had the monarch failed to perform these legitimate functions of government but it had become a threat to the very liberties.
The Declaration of Independence established the function of government. The American consensus was that government is to serve the people, it is their creation, and it has as its purpose the protection of the rights of the people. George Washington once compared government to fire which he said is a "dangerous servant and a fearful master." The Revolution was the result of this consensus and as a result the monarchy was unceremoniously booted out of the country. With the function or purpose of government so clearly spelled out in the Declaration of Independence the people of the United States now turned to the question of what form shall this new government have. And from this debate came the Constitution of the United States.
With these words the delegates to the Constitutional convention set forth the requirements for the acceptance of the new government: "The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the same." Those who supported the Constitution were well organized and in just four months they had secured approval from Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia and Connecticut. But in Massachusetts the tide began to turn. From the first moment the debate waged fiercely there and in New Hampshire and Virginia as well. It was suddenly no longer clear that the Constitution would actually be ratified.
In Massachusetts the Constitution was ratified but only by a slim margin: 187 to 168. In New Hampshire 57 delegates approved of the new document but 46 rejected it. In Virginia 87 approved but 79 called for the rejection of the Constitution and in New York ratification only passed by the narrow margin of 3 votes. North Caroline rejected the document outright and Rhode Island wouldn't even consider it. With just the narrowest of margins the Constitution became the governing document of this nation. And this was only done after the proponents of the Constitution promised the people that a Bill of Rights would be added. Without that promise the Constitution would have gone down in defeat.
The Constitution has as its preface a preamble which states the objectives to be pursued by the document. It simply tells the people why the document was drafted. It provides no authority nor does it grant any power to government. It simply tells us that reason the Constitution exists. Read carefully the inspired words: "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our prosperity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." It is philosophically crystal clear. It eloquently states for the world to hear that the Constitution of the United States has one function: to form a better government which will protect the rights of the people.
Some have asked why this preamble does not more clearly refer to the Declaration of Independence and the natural rights of which Jefferson wrote. Professor Leonard Levy offers this explanation:
In American revolutionary theory, the natural rights . . . were possessed by individuals in the state of nature, which existed before people voluntarily contracted with each other to establish a government whose purpose was to secure their rights. It was because the adoption of the state constitutions ended the state of nature, and the principles upon which those governments were founded were already incorporated into their constitutions, that no repetition was considered necessary. The American people were not rejecting natural rights when they wrote and ratified the Constitution. They had already established state governments on those principles and now the state governments were meeting to determine what sort of union between free and independent states would be established. The rights of the people were already secured by the state governments. It was also seen as an unnecessary debate since the Declaration of Independence already established the theory of individual rights on which the nation was founded.
For a moment think back to the architect designing his building for the company. When you look at the blueprint for his new building, say a shopping mall, you won't find on it a detailed description of the function of the building. It may simply say "shopping mall" and nothing more. The blueprints are not created to establish function but to lay-out the form of the structure. The Constitution does not deal with the function of the federal government, though the Preamble does cover this issue briefly. The Constitution serves the same function as the architect's blueprint: it merely lays out the form that the federal government will take.
As I have already pointed out the debate on the Constitution was fierce. Many Americans simply felt that the Constitution did not go far enough to protect the rights of the people. They were afraid that the federal government would come to dominate the individual States. They feared that instead of being a union of free and independent states with a small federal government we would become a large, unwieldy centralized state where the States would lose their power and the rights of the people would be diminished until they ceased to exist altogether. In light of recent history it seems that these critics may have been right.
The critics of the Constitution had specific complaints. When they spoke out on the document their criticism covered some very precise areas: two clauses, one section and one subject. In view of the frequency and intensity with which these specific issues were addressed it is an area that we should also at if we are to understand what the Constitution means. It is only by understanding the Constitution itself that we can determine whether or not a specific elected official is upholding his pledge to support and defend the Constitution. It is only by comprehending this document that we can determine whether or not our own government has ceased to be a creature of the Constitution or if it has become a horrendous monster, some sort of well-meaning experiment that got out of control.
The first clause objected to is found in Article I, section 8, the first paragraph. This is the so-called "General Welfare clause" which says, "The Congress shall have Power To Lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts, and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; . . . " The words objected to were "general Welfare" and an example of how the objection was expressed is as follows:
Congress [under this clause] will be the judge of what is necessary for the general welfare of the United States, and this will open the door to any extravagant expense which they shall be pleased to incur. For this reason their power should have been accurately defined. Baron Montesquieu [an influential legal theorist of the time] observes that 'the real wants of the people ought never to give way to the imaginary wants of the state. Imaginary wants are those which flow from passion, and from the weakness of the governors, from the charms of an extraordinary project, from a distempered desire of vain glory, and from a certain impotency of mind that renders it incapable of withstanding the attacks of fancy. Often times has it imagined that the wants of the state were those of their own little and ignoble soul.' That this may happen here, we have a right, and indeed ought to suppose. Any man who carefully attends to that part of the constitution quoted above, must judge that the powers granted by it, are too indefinite. Indeed as it stands there expressed, it includes every other power afterwards mentioned.
James Madison, considered the Father of the Constitution, keep copious notes on the debates concerning ratification. Along with John Jay and Alexander Hamilton he authored eighty-five essays, known as The Federalist Papers, promoting the ratification of the Constitution. He had a great deal to say about the critique presented in the above argument and he expressed his views both in The Federalist Papers and on the floor of Virginia ratifying convention. In No. 14 of the Federalist he responded: "In the first place it is to be remembered that the general government is not to be charged with the whole power of making and administering laws. Its jurisdiction is limited to certain enumerated objects which concern all the members of the republic, but which are not to be attained by the separate provision of any.
Then he specifically answers the objection raised against the general welfare clause:
Some who have not denied the necessity of the power of taxation have grounded a very fierce attack against the constitution, on the language in which it is defined. It has been urged and echoed that the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises to pay the common defense and general welfare of the United States, amounts to an unlimited commission to exercise every power which may be alleged to be necessary for the common defense or general welfare. No stronger proof could be given of the distress under which these writers labor for objections, than their stooping to such a misconstruction.
Had no other enumeration or definition of the powers of the congress been found in the constitution than the general expressions just cited, the authors of the objection might have had some color for it; though it would have been difficult to find a reason for so awkward a form of describing an authority to legislate in all possible cases. A power to destroy the freedom of the press, the trial by jury, or even to regulate the course of descents, or the forms of conveyances, must be very singularly expressed by the terms, 'to raise money for the general welfare.'
But what color can the objection have, when a specification of the objects alluded to by these general terms immediately follows and is not even separated by a longer pause than a semi-colon? If the different parts of the same instrument ought to be so expounded as to give meaning to every part which will bear it, shall one part of the same sentence be excluded altogether from a share in the meaning; and shall the more doubtful and indefinite terms be retained in their full extent, and the clear and precise expressions be denied any signification whatsoever? For what purpose could this enumeration of particular powers be inserted, if these and all others were meant to be included in the preceding general power? Nothing is more natural nor common than first to use a general phrase, and then to explain and qualify it by a recital of particulars.
Madison further clarifies the national power in No. 45 of the Federalist: "The powers delegated by the proposed constitution to the federal government are few and defined . " . . . [they] will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected."
Madison is expressing some fundamental principles for Constitutional interpretation. He is saying that the Constitution is not a broadly defined document where the powers of government change with social whims or political fancies. He says that what powers the federal government have are precise and clear and few in number. The general welfare clause he said was just an introduction and the Constitution itself lists the very "few and defined" powers bestowed on the federal government.
If as some today are contending, the general welfare clause gives the federal government expansive powers to do virtually anything it wishes than why was it necessary to list specific powers? An example of this in every day life would be like: if a friend of yours is at your home and admiring your library, you may tell him that he is free to borrow any book he wishes. Once you have given him permission to borrow any book it would be absurd and redundant to spend a hour listing every book title by title and telling him he has permission to borrow them. If a general authorization is given, a specific authorization is unnecessary. Specific authorizations are only given when a general authorization is not granted. The reason the Constitution lists specific examples of enumerated powers is because no carte blanch authorization was being made.
This same point was also made by Hamilton. In one of his last essays on the Constitution in the Federalist No. 83, he wrote: "The plan of the convention declares that the power of congress, or, in other words, of the national legislature, shall extend to certain enumerated cases. This specification of particulars evidently excludes all pretension to a general legislative authority, because an affirmative grant of special powers would be absurd as well as useless if a general authority was intended."
Another clause that aroused a great deal of opposition and concern was in the last paragraph of the same section and is called "the necessary and proper" clause. It says that Congress shall have the power, "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Office thereof." According to Madison, "Few parts of the Constitution have been assailed with more intemperance than this; yet on a fair investigation of it, no part can appear more completely invulnerable."
Hamilton had this to say about this clause: " . . . that it had been source of much virulent invective and petulant declamation against the proposed constitution, . . . held up to the people, in all the exaggerated colors of misrepresentation, as the pernicious engines by which their local governments were to be destroyed and their liberties exterminated--as the hideous monster whose devouring jaws would spare neither sex nor age, nor high nor low, nor sacred . . . ."
In the Pennsylvania ratifying convention James Wilson explained the clause this way: " . . . the concluding clause, with which, so much fault has been found, gives no more or other powers; nor does it, in any degree, go beyond the particular enumeration; for, when it is said that Congress shall have power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper, those words are limited and defined by the following, 'for carrying into execution the foregoing power.' It is saying no more than that the power we have already particularly given, shall be effectually carried into execution."
James Monroe, fifth President of the United States, told the Virginia convention that he was concerned about this clause. He believed that it could be misused. "There is a general power given to them to make all laws that will enable them to carry their power into effect. There are no limits pointed out. They are not restrained or controlled from making any law, however oppressive in its operation, which they may think necessary to carry their powers into effect. By this general, unqualified power, they may infringe not only on the trial by jury, but the liberty of the press, and every right that is not expressly secured or excepted from that general power. I conceive that such general powers are very dangerous. Our great unalienable rights ought to be secured by a bill of rights, or by an express provision in the body of the Constitution."
The Constitutional critics thought that the clause was "unqualified" and open to abuse. One other critics wrote: " . . . it is this necessity that alone cause all my apprehension. There is no public abuse that does not spring from the necessary use of powerit is that insensible progress from the use to that abuse, that has led mankind through scenes of calamity and woe, that make us now shrink back with horror, from the history of our species." But others argued that one section of the Constitution cannot properly be interpreted to allow a transgression against the Constitution as a whole. The document must be seen as a whole document and the part cannot violate the whole. James Iredell, another member of the first Supreme Court, told the North Carolina convention, "If Congress, under pretense of executing one power should, in fact, usurp another, they will violate the Constitution."
A third major objection to the Constitution dealt with an entire section. It is not necessary to understand the terms of each provision in this section but it is necessary to understand what the objection was about and what response was given. The section is as follows:
The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one Thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.
The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.
No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.
No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State. No Preferences shall be given by any Regulation or Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another; nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear or pay Duties in another.
No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States; and no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall without the Consent of Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
From the very beginning the debate over the Constitution centered around one primary issue: Does the Constitution grant broad powers to the Federal government? Those who supported the Constitution said the issue was clear; no powers are granted unless specifically enumerated. Opponents of the Constitution felt that some areas of the Constitution were not written tightly enough. But interestingly no one was really arguing that the government powers should be broad and expansive. And no one was saying that Federal powers were broad and that this was good. Both sides, pro-Constitution and anti-Constitution, agreed that the powers of the Federal government should be few and limited.
This fact is a sad commentary on the current state of American politics. Republicans and Democrats in office are constantly fighting to extend government power and in their perverse drive for political tyranny they have twisted the Constitution beyond recognition. Conservatives have been pushing for broader and expansive powers, including the complete suspension of the Bill of Rights, to fight the alleged war on drugs. Liberals can hardly wait to use the federal government to ban possession of firearms, even though ownership of guns is expressly sanctioned in the Second Amendment. In the war on the Constitution both parties have been guilty of treason. And no consolation can be found in trying to make the issue one of left versus right. It is clear that both conservatives and liberals have abandoned any respect for the Constitution. They are all traitors to that document, to the Founders who fought and died for our liberties, and to the great American tradition of limited government and individual freedom. They are monstrous vampires sucking out the blood of liberty and they should be treated accordingly.
Let us look at how some supporters and critics of the Constitution debated the section we are now discussing. Carefully notice how each side is advocating a severely limited federal government. Patrick Henry, whose "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" speech so greatly inspired the American Revolution, opposed the Constitution. He feared it granted too many powers and unlike today's politicians he wanted these powers even more clearly enumerated and limited. As restrictive as the Constitution is on Federal authority Henry thought it was too generous. "The design of the negative expressions in this section is to prescribe limits beyond which the powers of Congress shall not go. These are the sole bounds intended by the American government . . . The fair implication is, that they can do every thing they are not forbidden to do." Henry countered the promoters of the Constitution when they said that powers not granted are restricted. He asked why, if this were true, was it necessary to specifically forbid some powers to Congress if those powers are not where enumerated. Constitutional opponents took the position that "powers granted were anything but simple and unambiguousthat they were in fact complex and doubtful and capable of great extension."
The last of the major dissatisfactions concerned the subject of a standing army. All of the Constitution's legislative provisions related to this are gathered here and are found in Article one Section 8.
[The Congress shall have power] To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Year;
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To proved for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by the Congress;
At the Massachusetts convention the delegates were asked to remember the fatal evening of March 5th, 1770 when the lives of five of their citizens were taken by soldiers of the King. As Mr. Nason said, "that night ought to be sufficient warning against standing armies, except in cases of emergency. They are too frequently used for no other purpose than dragooning the people into slavery." Luther Martin, Attorney General for the State of Maryland, reported his views on this subject: ". . . the Congress have also a power given to them to raise and support armies, without any limitation as to numbers, and without any restriction in time of peace. Thus, sir, this plan of government, instead of guarding against a standing army, that engine of arbitrary power, which has so often and so successfully been used for the subversion of freedom,has, in its formation given it an express and constitutional sanction, and hath provided for its introduction."
Hamilton responded to these charges by pointing out that the military was ultimately controlled by the requirement that any funding was limited to a two year period and that any extension of funds would require Congressional approval. He believed that because the military budget would be debated that "if the majority should be really disposed to exceed the proper limits the community will be warned of the danger and will have an opportunity of taking measures to guard against it." Hamilton, while discussing the issue of a standing army, also touched on the issue of the right of the people to keep and bear arms. He said "that the army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people, while there is a large body of citizens little if at all inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow citizens. This appears to me the only substitute that can be devised for a standing army; the best possible security against it, if it should exist."
Hamilton wanted what was called a "select" militia, which would act as an army. When the Constitution was written the militia was considered to be all the people, not just a specially trained group of professional soldiers. This is why the Second Amendment mentions the need for a militia when it says that the rights of the people to keep and bear arms should not be infringed. The militia and the people were one in the same. Today's gun control advocates are dishonest when they attempt to twist the Second Amendment so that it allegedly only applies to the army. Hamilton thought that training the entire militia would be impractical and that is why he wanted a select body of men chosen for training. But one of the Anti-Federalists (those individuals who thought the Constitution gave too much power to government) opposed Hamilton's concept. He said:
A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves, and render regular troops in a great measure unnecessary . . . The constitution ought to secure a genuine and guard against a select militia, by providing that the militia shall always be kept well organized, armed, and disciplined, and include according to the past and general usage of the states, all men capable of bearing arms; and that all regulations tending to render this general militia useless and defenseless, by establishing select corps of militia, or distinct bodies of military men, not having permanent interests and attachments in the community to be avoided.
These corps [select militia] not much unlike regular troops, will ever produce an inattention to the general militia; and the consequence has ever been, and always will be, that the substantial men, having families and property, will generally be without arms, without knowing the use of them, and defenseless; whereas, to preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them . . .
In this section we have covered the main arguments used in opposition to the Constitution. These were that the terms "general welfare" and "necessary and proper" were too vague; that no satisfactory explanation for placing prohibitions against the national government which was allegedly to be a government of enumerated powers was given; and the fear of a standing army. The advocates of the Constitution responded by saying that the Constitution was clearly one of enumerated powers and that no individual clause can rightly be interpreted if it goes against the whole of the document. They also said the danger of a standing army was mitigated by the fact that it must seek funding from the Congress.
Fundamentally this covers the thrust of debate over ratification of the Constitution. Two sides faced each. The Federalists advocated a Constitution where government has few enumerated powers. Jefferson said that the Constitution's purpose was to "bind him [government officials] down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution." The Anti-Federalists said the Constitution didn't bind down the powers of government enough. They were afraid that some deceitful politicians and judges would twist the Constitution so that, instead of binding government power, it was used to expand such power. There was no debate at all about the intent of the Constitution, they all agreed that it should be used to severely limit Federal power to a few, clearly enumerated issues and that all other actions would be illegitimate, a violation of natural rights, and unconstitutional. The Founders, Federalists and anti-Federalists alike, would find the current state of affairs intolerable and treasonable. They would be among the first to advocate another American Revolution to overturn the monster that has grown in Washington.
Jim Peron is the author of Die, the Beloved Country?, a book exposing the misrule by mismanagement of the African National Congress during its first term of office in South Africa. He recently finished an expose of the Mugabe regime: Zimbabwe: the Death of a Dream. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Given the demands of defending a large area, though, the central government was bound to grow. Madison, who fought against the creation of the First Bank of the United States on constitutional and policy grounds, accepted the creation of the Second Bank. Jefferson who condemned the Alien and Sedition Acts, took recourse to similar policies in the Embargo Enforcement Act.
The potential for exercising greater power was there from the beginning and would be used by whoever was in power. Perhaps the unconscious of the founders or the natural tendencies of government should also be plumbed.
Surely voting won't accomplish it. Debates won't work. Speech will solve nothing. The decent, good people have two choices -- be forced into a continued retreat, or fight like bloody h*** to get what was lost, ceded, and taken back.
But we are all sitting at home typing on our computers. America is a nation of wimps -- I confess, I am included, and ashamed. Still, we all know that 10% actually fought in 1776, the balance either went into denial, hid in their homes, or were Tories. The point is it is in our nature to wimp out and avoid confrontation. Unless we have a powerful incentive to participate in something as radical and dangerous as a hot war with an enemy, we won't go there. Even Jefferson hid out at Monticello during the war, and then when the coast was clear, he lived it up in France for a number of years after Adams did all the hard work. (Jefferson is WAY over rated)
The founders had a financial stake. Adams saw an opportunity for glory. His thinking was this was an unprecedented opportunity to shape and form the laws and constitution of a nation from the ground up. The soldier's motivation was that they were starving and needed the clothes and food the army provided. The rest (militias, etc) saw the Atlantic Ocean, and realized they had a golden opportunity to own land free and clear of Royal claims -- an unprecedented opportunity. Patriotism was linked for the most part to self interest.
From what I have read from Tocqueville, he talks of English refugees in Holland who sailed to the new world to get away from the old one in the pursuit of an idea. The pilgrims did not have the crass money motive of those of the 1776 era, but nonetheless, they had a strong self interest that was so strong, and so powerfully motivating, they boarded a ship and sailed to a distant new land, totally raw, hostile, and undeveloped. They had to know that the journey was one to a grave sooner rather than later. But they went anyway.
The huge difference between then and now, is the modern Puritan (which is a VERY watered down version of the original thing, whereby if the original were to revisit America today they would declare their species utterly extinct) has nowhere to sail to! As for the modern puritan's bedfellows (a strange mix it would be), who desired to be rid of the federal government, and their state government which sanctions the butchering of unborn children, which promotes homosexuality, which is a big fat bloated pig that over taxes and over regulates, one tied to a group of sleazy bankers in Europe who call the shots, where leaders are not elected but chosen, where the body politic is dumbed down to the dirt, and oh my, the list is too long, even IF they could all agree on a game plan, where the heck would they go?
There is nowhere to go. America represented the last opportunity to get it right. Things were looking good, albiet pretty dang rough, in Puritan New England, but this is 2001, and the very state the Puritans landed in (MA) is now THE modern mecca of filth and degeneracy -- at least viewed through a Puritan lens. This irony should not be lost on a Christian.
Since there is nowhere to go, the only possibility of escape is through some sort of divorce. Yet history shows us that when a land mass is settled with millions of people, and there is an internal fracturing, things become decidedly messy, and there are no winners. The French revolution is a goods example in that, after the smoke from Napolean's cannons cleared, little had changed. The people who had the power to begin with still had the power in the end.
Some would argue that America is simply a European province, and has been since 1913, the goal on the other side of the Atlantic being to find a way, no matter how long it took, or by what method, to recapture America. As an aside, it is my understanding of the facts that this was accomplished through the mechanism of the central bank, a wholly owned subsidiary of Rothchild and Co.
The whole idea of making a clean break from this present government, and cultural cesspool, to be removed back to the start is a fantasy -- a great one, indeed. It would be great to let the leftists rot in their excrement. We could do what Abram did with Lot. Abram let Lot pick, what appeared to Lot, at least, the choicest land, and Abram took what Lot did not choose. Eventually the Lot paradigm imploded and Abram ends up winning on that play after all.
The good guys could simply reform another country, and just wait for the leftists to self destruct. Then we could purchase what they have left for pennies on the dollar, and retake the whole thing. The key would be that the good guys get to dictate the terms. No more ACLU. No more immoral garbage. No more fiat central banking. No more eco fanaticism. No more land grabs. No more UN. No more all kinds of stuff.
I believe the truth is unless there is some type of clean division, some sort of clean break, some sort of new country formed, all the good guys will end up doing is getting into losing arguments with immoral scum who specilaize in non-liner BS, and will forever keep losing ground. The trend for America is DOWN DOWN DOWN, and it will just get worse without a divorce.
Just wait until the Witch gets elected in '04. The point is, even though it SOUNDS crazy to talk of separation, divorce, secession, revolution, or whatever, the fact is if you even have an ounce of the love of the type of freedom Adams envisioned Americans could have, without such a definitve parting of the ways, your groans will only get that much stonger. It WILL get MUCH worse. That is the TREND. Trends are powerful. Unless there is some other greater force that can stop this trend, the trend will continue.
I can tell you, that makes me pretty sad. I am a liberal minded person, but in certain key areas, the government, and the part of the body politic that empowers this government, has totally crossed the line. This web site at the Free Republic is a REACTION to that line crossing. It turns out that the ecletic, amusing, and seemingly harmless bunch of the 60s, from whom in some respects I think America got a few good books out of, some good music, and even a good business idea or two, still, sadly we discovered that the core constituency turned out to be radical communists who take no prisoners in the cultural war, and who have, by a relentless campaign in the last 40 years particularly, turned America upside down and destroyed the very foundation She used to stand firmly upon, and have replaced it with Marxist sand.
That is a problem -- a big problem -- not just for us, but for them as well, even though they are too blind to see that the very things that stupidly espouse and promote are the ingredients that will take us all down IF we are joined together. As it is, we ARE joined together. I do not know about you, but I sure would like to DISCONNECT from the sinking ship and swim back to shore. This, however cannot and will not happen unless, as crazy as it sounds to our soft ears, there is a revolution that leads to a separation.
By the by: I took that oath 50 years ago, and have never been asked or ordered to forswear that oath. At least we are in this together, brother.
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