22 May 2007

The Warnings of the Founding Generation

From the time of the Founding of the Nation there were those who worried about Federal Government and what would become of it. Their views were many but some of the basic outlines of *why* Federal governing needs strong checks and could be seen as wrong-headed do have merit in this modern era. We can see some of the most pertinent of these criticisms in the Yates and Lansing letter to the New York Governor. I will excerpt some sections to highlight these, and some other criticisms of the Constitution:



Exclusive of our objections originating from the want of power, we entertained an opinion that a general government, however guarded by declarations of rights, or cautionary provisions, must unavoidably, in a short time, be productive of the destruction of the civil liberty of such citizens who could be effectually coerced by it, by reason of the extensive territory of the United States, the dispersed situation of its inhabitants, and the insuperable difficulty of controlling or counteracting the views of a set of men (however unconstitutional and oppressive their acts might be) possessed of all the powers of government, and who, from their remoteness from their constituents, and necessary permanency of office, could not be supposed to be uniformly actuated by an attention to their welfare and happiness; that, however wise and energetic the principles of the general government might be, the extremities of the United States could not be kept in due submission and obedience to its laws, at the distance of many hundred miles from the seat of government; that, if the general legislature was composed of so numerous a body of men as to represent the interests of all the inhabitants of the United States, in the usual and true ideas of representation, the expense of supporting it would become intolerably burdensome; and that, if a few only were vested with a power of legislation, the interests of a great majority of the inhabitants of the United States must necessarily be unknown; or, if known, even in the first stages of the operations of the new government, unattended to.
All bolding is mine throughout, of course!

Yates and Lansing thus put forth that Federal Government would become remote from the People, insulate itself *from* the People, put itself into perpetuity of power as individuals, and then set forth laws contrary to the Will of the People. By using the powers vested in it such Federal Government, no matter how tight the safeguards and guarantees, would drift from the outlooks of the People and secure only the outlooks of itself.

We have seen this over the period from 1787 to present via some few methods, but the Progressive Era of the late 19th and early 20th century were capstoned by a decade that 'reformed' the Federal Government so as to make it 'manageable' and easier to operate. In one decade the outlook of what the United States had as limitations upon the Federal Government changed in distinct ways. I look at that ten year period with this article and will summarize the main points of entry of it:
  • The Harrison Act to regulate the use of narcotics was, itself, a capstone to an anti-drug movement by religions to combat opium use and the trade of it in the Orient, mostly China, but the trade and its piracies stretched far out from there to reach even Europe and America. In that period of 1909-14 the very first regulation of what individuals inside the United States could actually put into their bodies was formed, based on the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. This went beyond the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which requires the labeling of what is actually IN those things Americans are using. Starting at mere tax stamps, which would then not be issued, that power has grown to include many, many medications that go far beyond narcotics. This outlook became the outlook to form up such organizations as the Drug Enforcement Agency and its powers are based solely upon that idealistic outlook of the Nation knowing better than its Citizens what Citizens may or may not do with their bodies.

  • In 1909 Amendment XVI to the US Constitution changed the ability of Federal Government to directly tax individuals in the Union in disproportionate fashion. This had changed the funding basis for the United States from one resting upon State collection of funds and the use of tariffs to that of directly using the power of taxation of the People without intermediary. This moved the US off of its traditional ability to hold Federal Government accountable via funding from the States and removed that as a check and balance against Federal power.

  • Amendment XVII which would also be ratified in 1913 which would place the direct election of Senators to that of the People of the States and *not* the Government of the States. Up to that point many States would *not* send Senators to the US Congress, either by oversight or intent, which was seen as crippling that body by making it difficult to actually hold it in session. This was the traditional way the States had to express their dissatisfaction with Federal Government and served as a direct reflection of how much power the Federal Government should have based on State outlook.

  • In 1911 would come Public Law 62-5 which would go into effect in 1913 and limit the size of the House of Representatives. The House had previously served in proportion to population and would increase in size as population increased. At a number of times that proportion changed, via law, but the idea of an open-ended House was always kept so that the Will of the People could be reflected by the changing size of the population itself. With this limitation came the slow marginalization of the People as the ratio between Representative to the People changed ever upwards and the two parties formalized their control of districts so that seats would rarely pass between the parties in a way to effect their power structure.

  • Amendment XVIII for the Prohibition of Alcohol in 1919 would be the largest attempt to directly control the People of the United States based on moralistic outlooks and would meet with long-term failure and repeal. That was not done before the rise of organized crime which had developed to meet the needs of the People for alcohol and as since put in place organized crime as a long-term, perennial threat to liberty, freedom and the rule of law within the United States and has developed that illiberal capability on a global basis. While the oil companies would compete to become a global business in this same period, they would often find that the entire set of organized crime from Europe to the Far East was there before them and represented the first true estimate of the financial power of the United States.
  • President Woodrow Wilson would move the traditional War outlook of the United States and the entirety of Western Civilization via his outlooks for US entry into World War I. He promulgated two ideas and looked for one outcome and would get NONE of them right:

    1. His first idea was that trade was more freeing, over time, than any of the effects of warfare and that the United States should NOT confront the entire set of allies to Germany on a far-reaching basis. This view was particularly put to the Ottoman Empire, which was committing genocide of the Armenians which was being reported to the West by news organizations, church groups and other humanitarian groups. Ex-President Roosevelt had put forth from Congress that the United States by not taking part fully in the War against *all* of the enemies of France and Britain would then have little to no say in the peace that followed which would be set by those two States and their outlook for Colonial Empires.

    2. His second idea was that international organizations would serve as a means and method to allow Nations to work out differences via a Third Body. This concept which was embodied by the League of Nations and, after the failure of that, the United Nations would put forth that somehow joining all Nations together to discuss differences would yield positive results. The 'scourge of war' however, was not removed by this and, in point of fact, made even more pernicious and endemic amongst smaller Nations that saw no need nor want of 'help' from larger Nations unless something could be gotten from those larger Nations for doing so. From this rose the modern castigation of the West, in particular, as holding some forms of democracy and liberty and freedom of individuals forward, the enemies of that liberal tradition did NOT do so and used such organizations to put forward totalitarian excoriations of these larger powers.

    3. His third outlook would be doomed by the first: to align the Middle East and the Balkans to States that adhered more properly to populations that had ethnicity and background in common. Here the Predictions by ex-President Roosevelt proved to be correct and the Western Allies did not see the US as a full participant in the War and while critical, its limited role did not gain it much say and no veto over the ensuing Peace Treaties. Those Treaties would look towards 19th century Colonial expansion views of 'painting the map in the color of your Nation' and would NOT respect ethnic nor cultural boundaries of the People in those areas.
From these activities, Federal Government would change its basis of what is and is not commonality to the People of the Nation. The very worries of having a Federal Government that would distance itself from the People and their outlook on what it means to have a Nation in common, while always present as a possibility, gained a substantive foundation in this era of 1909-19. The outlooks of Yates and Lansing give pause, here, so that they can be properly looked at in light of these changes.

The loss of Civil Liberties, of the People, changed drastically with the Harrison Act, Amendment XVI and by the Wilsonian concepts that trade should be put above freedom and that Nations should abide by general agreements amongst all Nations and not by specific agreement between specific Nations. Given life today, these outlooks and the Federal power backing them have now diminished the Civil Liberties of the Citizens to have State based outlook upon their lives and to have Federal government that will adhere to the promulgation of liberty and freedom above all else.

Today the entirety of the anti-narcotics movement has gone to drugs that were never seen as a threat to the population and some, while having deleterious effects upon individuals, cannot be properly studied to warn people of those effects as they are *limited* in how they may be researched. Beyond that such drugs put off the ability of the public or even commercial concerns to study also put any beneficial effect of them, for study, under such strict control that it is almost impossible to do so. What started out as a 'temperance' movement has blossomed into a Congressional power to utilizes the 'commerce clause' to oversee and regulate purely intra-State commerce. The Supreme Court has upheld this on the grounds of some larger 'National Illegal Market' that Congress has oversight upon. With that as outlook there is now no activity done by any individual for any purpose within the entirety of the United States which cannot be ruled upon, by Congress, because of its theoretical effects to ANY 'market' be it legal or illegal in nature.

With the ability of Congress to tax individuals directly has also arisen a tax courts system which is NOT part of the Civil Law system but is part of a 'tax law' system. This tax law area is not amenable to simple Civil Law oversight and operates independently of it with severe restrictions on adjudication and even on the basis of having a jury of one's peers or the pre-supposition of innocence. By using the ability of the Federal Government to array a case against individuals and those individuals, no matter how wealthy, having the law, itself, stacked against them, find it hard to stop such courts and the power of them over individuals. The actual Revolution was FOUNDED upon the motto: 'No taxation without representation.' As subjects of the Crown they expected to have voice and say in the matter of taxation and work something out *with* their Sovereign so as to find a more equitable basis for repayment of loans for the French and Indian Wars. That is why the US Constitution does NOT invest Congress, originally, with the power to tax individuals in disproportionate or unequal manner. A power such as that is one that was seen to lead to abuse, corruption and, ultimately, despotic trends.

The entire tax code, itself, while in theory put to a means whereby a 'graduated tax system' is imposed, so that wealthy individuals pay a higher proportion of earnings than do the poor, the entire investing of the system TO Congress has made the system rife with lobbyist exceptions so that vast swaths of the wealthy population pay next to NO taxes and some businesses or entire industries pay NONE at all. While the affluent do pay more in proportion and overwhelmingly, the amount of income that has 'shelters', 'loopholes' and other means to escape taxations is far, far larger than that income which is taxed. That is neither 'fair', 'liberal' nor in the best outlook to make a harmonious whole of the Nation as the rich may sinecure funds and their power base so as to enrich themselves via 'unearned income' and other vehicles, while those with little or no means to invest cannot avail themselves of those same benefits in any way, shape or form.

The United States moved from a basis of taxing the imported goods to the Nation, so that those supporting the purchase of foreign goods would, likewise, help fund the Nation so as to have fair and even regulation of such importations, to a strange concept of seeking to have 'free trade' with everyone and put no burden on imports save on those things which industries can lobby Congress so as to shield them from this 'free trade'. This goes far above and beyond the very few businesses needed for National Defense goods, and incorporates a wide range of manufacturing, refining and basic goods systems. Agriculture, in particular, has seen massive Federal subsidies, grants and support while equal goods from other lands have had restrictions and high tariffs placed upon them to 'protect' these businesses based upon their lobbying power.

The Federal Farmer No. 3 of 10 OCT 1787 frames the view on allowing the Federal government power of taxation in this manner:

Should the general government think it politic, as some administrations (if not all) probably will, to look for a support in a system of influence, the government will take every occasion to multiply laws, and officers to execute them, considering these as so many necessary props for its own support. Should this system of policy be adopted, taxes more productive than the impost duties will, probably, be wanted to support the government, and to discharge foreign demands, without leaving any thing for the domestic creditors. The internal sources of taxation then must be called into operation, and internal tax laws and federal assessors and collectors spread over this immense country. All these circumstances considered, is it wise, prudent, or safe, to vest the powers of laying and collecting internal taxes in the general government, while imperfectly organized and inadequate; and to trust to amending it hereafter, and making it adequate to this purpose? It is not only unsafe but absurd to lodge power in a government before it is fitted to receive it? It is confessed that this power and representation ought to go together. Why give the power first? Why give the power to the few, who, when possessed of it, may have address enough to prevent the increase of representation? Why not keep the power, and, when necessary, amend the constitution, and add to its other parts this power, and a proper increase of representation at the same time? Then men who may want the power will be under strong inducements to let in the people, by their representatives, into the government, to hold their due proportion of this power. If a proper representation be impracticable, then we shall see this power resting in the states, where it at present ought to be, and not inconsiderately given up.
That ability to continually expand government and increase taxes to do so is seen as a direct problem for representative democracy in which those with the power of taxation continue onwards to expand the power and the taxes without recourse or direct input from the People. Even giving the Federal government ANY power of taxation was seen as an inducement to corruption and loss of liberties, so the expansion of it is, again, a clear warning of power concentrating into the hands of the Federal and out of the hands of the People. This is warned about repeatedly as a source of corruption and ability of the Federal government to keep and hold power to itself above the People. Amongst many Cato No. 6, Brutus No. 5 looks at this, as well as in No. 3, as does Centinel No. 4 from a more trade oriented perspective on the tariff power, also John DeWitt No.2 looks into the expansive taxation authority of Congress.

In purely governmental and democracy terms, the movement taking checks and balances out of the Federal system have had wide-ranging and deleterious impacts upon the Citizenry. On the side of the Senate, the removal of State based veto by absence so that even getting a quorum required actual 'good legislation' that would benefit all of the States has been bypassed in its entirety. For all that was decried about that, and the negligence of government to do things, that was seen as the natural basis OF democracy: self-limitation upon the scope of government so that it would do less harm by not being able to be active.

From the House side, the movement to a set House has caused 'gerrymandering' to become the illiberal method of creating strange districts to unite disparate and remote populations so as to sinecure pure party affiliation. This is not a representation of local outlook based on proximity of people actually having to do this thing known as 'live together in harmony', but the ability of political parties to harden their control based on ideology that is dispersed within States so as to remove this idea that individuals living near to each other should have oversight upon their own affairs. With that the two political parties now exchange power based a mere handful of seats and popular views that spread via means within communities gain no foothold as there is no coherent community based districts for such views to sway Representatives. Even worse is that the number of people necessary to form a district has so swelled that individuals can no longer expect to even know or even see or communicate directly with their Representative. The idea that one might actually meet such a Representative because he or she actually 'lives nearby' has been removed as a foundation for democracy by this set-size House. The Georgia Gazette also publishes a letter on this, and wonders on the ability to increase representation to 1 to 20,000 or 1 to 15,000 so as to better represent the People in their diversity across the States.

A clear warning of this was heard from 05 OCT 1787 from Centinal No. 1 :

Thus we see, the house of representatives, are on the part of the people to balance the senate, who I suppose will be composed of the better sort, the well born, etc. The number of the representatives (being only one for every 30,000 inhabitants) appears to be too few, either to communicate the requisite information, of the wants, local circumstances and sentiments of so extensive an empire, or to prevent corruption and undue influence, in the exercise of such great powers; the term for which they are to be chosen, too long to preserve a due dependence and accountability to their constituents; and the mode and places of their election not sufficiently ascertained, for as Congress have the control over both, they may govern the choice, by ordering the representatives of a whole state, to be elected in one place, and that too may be the most inconvenient.
It appears that this individual actually expects a VERY Representative form of government to be the normal course of affairs in life and that moving as high as 1 per 30,000 would yield far too few Representatives to properly give a voice to the Will of the People. And yet we now move to 1 per 550,000 and higher with each passing election and the actual ability of the People to have *any* voice when individuals are drowned out by cacophony is now the rule, not the exception.

Purely on Foreign Affairs, the United States still has, as a cornerstone, that the Executive is the sole organ of government for international relations. This idea is firmly upheld by the US Supreme Court in US vs. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp. decided in 1936. That power and outlook has been substantially altered by the outlook to move towards some quasi-Congressional power extending beyond their mere Treaty regularization power or their power for US Commercial and Navigation conduct upon the High Seas and airspace. Explicitly, via the Supreme Court upholding the Constitution, Congress gets no such power nor outlook. Here the expansiveness of the 'commerce clause' on an intra-State basis is being utilized to somehow expand Congressional power beyond the United States in its agreements via Treaty. Congress was specifically cited in US vs. Curtiss-Wright to give more than due deference to the Executive in these areas as they are categorically NOT the same as those powers within the Nation. Congress has seen fit to ignore this as members now talk with enemies of the Nation who have clearly stated their enmity for the Nation and see no good coming from the United States as it is antithetical to their outlooks on the world. Any attempt to do anything in a policy realm where there is NO Treaty to back things up is beyond any power given to Congress by the People.

From the Wilsonian outlook on international bodies comes strange ideas that such bodies should have source of power or capability in regulating what the People of the United States can do, say or think. Organizations, like the World Trade Organization, have some sort of authority body meant to adjudicate trade disputes and impose sanctions and rulings upon those within such disputes. Their Constitutional basis for power on the United States is zero, as that power is granted to the Federal government solely and may not be made to adhere to any outside organization by any Treaty. That is the scope and limits of power handed to the Federal government and it may not go beyond that to subject the Nation to outside institutions and their rulings for ANYTHING as those institutions are not specifically created by the People of the United States. This does not stop business, industry, and trade groups, along with 'humanitarian organizations' from attempting to do otherwise, and any utilization of such rulings or decree for *anything* upon the United States must have full backing of those things the People have ordained and established as their Government held in common.

Those, above, are seen as the problems of such Federal Government when Yates and Lansing said:
"... if a few only were vested with a power of legislation, the interests of a great majority of the inhabitants of the United States must necessarily be unknown; or, if known, even in the first stages of the operations of the new government, unattended to."
These powers and the outlook of Congress no longer put it in accord with the People and the grant of those powers to Congress. Congress may actually *know* the Will of the People, but no longer acts in the interests OF the Will of the People, but, instead, acts to some other goal or modality of operation.

George Mason withheld his name from the Constitution for similar reasons as stated in his letter of objections to it. Some passages as follows are excerpted:
In the House of Representatives there is not the substance, but the shadow only, of representation, which can never produce proper information in the legislature, or inspire confidence in the people. The laws will, therefore, be generally made by men little concerned in, and unacquainted with, their effects and consequences.
The inability to the House to actually and fairly represent the diverse opinion of the People is seen as distancing representative democracy from the People and to no longer represent the People. This was a common worry amongst those deciding about the US Constitution: that 1 to 30,000 would *not* yield a representative body that reflects the Nation. Centinal No. 1 looks at that amount and finds it too lacking in true representative proportions. As does Brutus No. 3, which looks at the House:

"This branch of the legislature will not only be an imperfect representation, but there will be no security in so small a body, against bribery, and corruption."
Also in John DeWitt No. 3 is the proposition that a district based representative scheme is not compatible with the community and town based formulation of representative government then known in the States:
"But how are these men to be chosen? Is there any other way than by dividing the Senate into districts? May not you as well at once invest your annual Assemblies with the power of choosing them—where is the essential difference? The nature of the thing will admit of none. Nay, you give them the power to prescribe the mode. They may invest it in themselves.—If you choose them yourselves, you must take them upon credit, and elect those persons you know only by common fame. Even this privilege is denied you annually, through fear that you might withhold the shadow of control over them. In this view of the System, let me sincerely ask you, where is the people in this House of Representatives?"
It is a strange world we have come to with mass media society that sees actually 'hearing from the People' in multitudes so as to represent the Nation as something that should be limited to a few hundred individuals and sinecured to two political parties. With too few individuals there is no internal oversight and accountability *within* the branch itself and it can become undemocratic via that very small cadre that serve there.

Today we now have Congressional Representatives who are more interested in securing funds and power than they are in actually having good government or being a fair representative of the People of the Nation. We have ample evidence of that seen in the Abscam investigation and the transcripts of Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) on his view of government:
MURTHA: Let me tell you what I see. Howard, his deal with you guys, or two other guys [Thompson and Murphy], I'm dealing. I'll tell you how I feel about my part of it. My part is that you don't need to spend a goddamn cent on this thing. That's my feeling. Howard feels differently about it. These other two guys have as much influence with the administration and in Congress as anybody. There's no question about it. There's no question about these other two guys being long-term members, being chairmen of the right committees. They're the right people. But -- you gotta look at it realistically, you gotta know all the facts before you can do anything at all. Now, as I told Howard, I want to deal with you guys awhile before I made any transactions at all, period. In other words I want to say, "Look put some money in these guys," and I, just let me know, so I can say, you know, these guys are gonna do business in our district. Then there's a couple businesses that I'm not personally involved in but would be very helpful for the district, that I could make a big play of, be very helpful to me. After we've done some business, then I might change my mind. But right now, that's all I'm interested in. [12:00:40] Period. And I'm gonna tell you this. If anybody can do it... and I'm not bullshitting you fellas, I can get it done my way. There's no question about it. I can get it done. And the thing you gotta remember is, what happened to [South Korean agent Tongsun?] Park and those guys, you can't start going to people that you don't know, that don't level with you, that bullshit you, that don't look into it. For instance, I may tell you in a week after I look into it can't be done. It cannot be done. And I'll tell you. I won't bullshit you. When I make a deal, it's a goddamn deal. That's all there is to it. And, uh, you know, after it's done, you may tell me, well you've already done it, there's no reason for me to deal with ya. Howard tells me that you're not that kinda people, that, you uh, you know, that you deal, you know...


MURTHA [12:14:13]: The thing is, what I'm trying to do is establish the very thing that you talked about. That tie to the district, that's all I need, from then on -- I'm gonna be there 20 years in that goddamn Congress. I don't want to screw it up by some little goddamn thing along the way that, if I wanted to make a lot of money I would have been outside making a lot of money. And you, I know what I can do and what I can't do...I won't bullshit you, that's for sure....you got two good people, and I just want to know -- well, I know the facts.
That is some distancing of the Nation, the People and politicians looking out for the welfare of the Nation. From that is heard clearly the warning of George Mason on Representatives having little acquaintance with implications beyond their own scope and outlook. The corruption of power is just as important if not *more* important than mere money, and we see here that the expectation of utilizing money to stay in power with the funds directed to the 'right businesses' is corrosive to good government. Where is the internal oversight of the House, these days, anyway? Unfortunately the too few members are too busy to do anything about it.

Not to leave the upper body alone let us see what George Mason had to say about the Senate:
The Senate have the power of altering all money bills, and of originating appropriations of money, and the salaries of the officers of their own appointment, in conjunction with the President of the United States, although they are not the representatives of the people, or amenable to them. These, with their other great powers, (viz., their powers in the appointment of ambassadors, and all public officers, in making treaties, and in trying all impeachments;) their influence upon, and connection with, the supreme executive from these causes; their duration of office; and their being a constant existing body, almost continually sitting, joined with their being one complete branch of the legislature,—will destroy any balance in the government, and enable them to accomplish what usurpations they please upon the rights and liberties of the people.
Any affiliation between the President and the Senate for getting Immigration Amnesty voted in is purely coincidental, I am sure. While the connections to the Executive have proved troublesome, from time to time, the Senate by being so much between elections gets little opportunity to actually understand what the Will of the People is. In some ways this was meant to be a moderating influence upon the every vexatious and changing Will of the People, but in others it also moves ideas for what makes good government that upholds the rights of the People to the side while trying to utilize the power of government to reach Senatorial ends. When a Senate acts 'off the record' and 'behind closed doors' to draft legislation and then immediately moves to stifle debate or even give time for legislation to be READ by the members, that is a movement to abuse of power by the Senate. And in the case of Immigration Amnesty, it puts at peril the very rights of the People to determine what the Laws of the Land are and to hold Congress accountable for NOT funding them to be enforced and the Executive for NOT enforcing them. Even with more time given to debate, the original move to limit such time and debate is an anti-democratic one that speaks ill of the Senate to conduct itself in a reasonable fashion for sweeping legislation.

From Cato No. 3 on 25 OCT 1787 is heard this about political liberty:
Political liberty, the great Montesquieu again observes, consists in security, or at least in the opinion we have of security; and this security, therefore, or the opinion, is best obtained in moderate governments, where the mildness of the laws, and the equality of the manners, beget a confidence in the people, which produces this security, or the opinion. This moderation in governments depends in a great measure on their limits, connected with their political distribution.
Where is our political liberty without any security in this Nation? It seems to me that trying to welcome in large numbers of individuals to unbalance the Nation and to do *nothing* to actually secure the borders of the Nation when known enemies have already utilized such lacks to get here is not only immoderate but fool hearty. In not taking any recourse to actually pay for enforcement of the laws nor uphold them, Congress does not act in moderate manner nor in a mild one, but is abdicating its duty to the Nation. We can have no security if government will not enforce the laws it makes. This is not the part of Franklin warning about security and liberty, this is lack of ANY security denying ALL liberty to have a Nation free from outside influence and control.

From Cato No. 6 we hear of this outlook upon the problems of the Senate:
"In every civilized community, even in those of the most democratic kind, there are principles which lead to an aristocracy—these are superior talents, fortunes, and public employments. But in free governments, the influence of the two former is resisted by the equality of the laws, and the latter by the frequency of elections, and the chance that every one has in sharing in public business; but when this natural and artificial eminence is assisted by principles interwoven in this government—when the senate, so important a branch of the legislature, is so far removed from the people, as to have little or no connexion with them; when their duration in office is such as to have the resemblance to perpetuity, when they are connected with the executive, by the appointment of all officers, and also, to become a judiciary for the trial of officers of their own appointments: added to all this, when none but men of opulence will hold a seat, what is there left to resist and repel this host of influence and power. Will the feeble efforts of the house of representatives, in whom your security ought to subsist, consisting of about seventy-three, be able to hold the balance against them, when, from the fewness of the number in this house, the senate will have in their power to poison even a majority of that body by douceurs of office for themselves or friends. From causes like this both Montesquieu and Hume have predicted the decline of the British government into that of an absolute one; but the liberties of this country, it is probable if this system is adopted, will be strangled in their birth; for whenever the executive and senate can destroy the independence of the majority in the house of representatives then where is your security?—They are so intimately connected, that their interests will be one and the same; and will the slow increase of numbers be able to afford a repelling principle? but you are told to adopt this government first, and you will always be able to alter it afterwards; this would be first submitting to be slaves and then taking care of your liberty; and when your chains are on, then to act like freemen."
It is such warning signs that the generation of the Revolution and the Constitution remembered the excesses of other government types and warned about the abuses that even a republican government can slide into over time. Where is the security in a Senate that proposes in changing the ability of the Nation to have Sovereign Laws and National Sovereignty that must be respected first, and above all, so that the People may feel secure in the Nation? Suddenly bringing an immigrant class in that has demonstrably respected neither the Law nor the Sovereignty of the Nation and doing so with cooperation of the President is a major worry as only the 'feeble house' remains to safeguard liberty in its few numbers. And those few are from positions of power where their districts do not change in alignment very often and the actual Will of the People is no longer clearly heard because of the watering down of clarity from smaller populations against the 'mass movement' concept that the current set House size encourages.

That is, apparently, the state of the Republic of the United States of America today.

Taxes by Congress to pay for all sorts of 'public goods' and yet do the public little good in the long run. And such taxes get made more complicated, year on year, until no one can understand them and the 'progressive' concept is so undermined that most corporate income and that of the wealthiest do *not* get taxed. That has some benefit to the Union, still, but it is one of being dependent *upon* the wealthy to fund the Nation and not upon the People to shoulder that burden.

A Senate that has lost all connection with common Americans that it no longer governs by a best outlook for Americans, but only for themselves and their parties.

A House that does not swell to meet the growth of the Nation so as to reflect its communities. Instead the two parties have so ingrained themselves that they now change districts to reflect the parties and NOT the parties to reflect the districts. By doing so they become as fossilized as the Senate as Rep. Murtha put forth in his outlook of being in the House for at least 20 more years way back when in 1980. It now has equal 'perpetuity of rule' as the Senate does.

Finally there is the term limited President, who need not even try to run for re-election and now spends more time trying to find a 'legacy' and looking overseas to dictatorships to try and appease them so as to get such a 'legacy'. Such legacies of that, however, tend to be ones in which World War results, at worse, or in which those dictators remain unopposed by anyone and are able to gull the next President by sweet words of: 'if you give me just a little bit more...' Such are the 'legacies' of North Korea, Syria, Libya, Iran.

These are the signs, not of a healthy democracy or functioning Republic. That first generation that put criticism against the US Constitution clearly stated what the problems with it were and are, to this day, and what the repercussions of giving too much to central government would be. They saw things like: Monarchy, Despotism and Tyranny as the result. The winds of what used to be just partisanship have turned cold and ugly this past decade, and the outlook by those in office today is that they are after pure power as they have shut out the voices of the People in the Nation in their representative government. While previous generations have, indeed, heard partisan attacks, the vitriol and vehemence of the stultified two party system is one that no longer aims at 'common assent', but at turning out a 'committed base' and so stifling debate as to disenfranchise the rest of the People by attacking common ideals of self-governance and accountability. One law for the ruling and favored, another for the 'common man'.

And if you don't like what government does, then that is just too bad. If you *criticize* government, then those same partisan supporters and 'committed base' attack such individuals on a personal basis, not on the substance of those criticisms which are not meant as attacks. That is what is now seen by those trying to support the concept of having a Nation State as the prime and, indeed, ONLY way of securing freedom and liberty. By polarizing all issues to politics, there is no commonality left for common agreement, common consent, common government and support for the Nation by All of the People.

Keeping a Republic healthy requires eternal vigilance against the depredations of those seeking to secure power for themselves and do more than just 'govern'. That is why those seeking to put forth that Congress has powers it does not have, that breaking the agreements on actually enforcing the law and securing the Nation, and those that wish to see the Nation fail at all it does are not seeking human freedom nor liberty. The end result of those things is Tyranny.

Or Empire.

Either is the end of the Republic of the United States of America.

And the weight of history is upon this generation as it is upon each generation since and including the Revolution. The Nation is being pushed towards a river and to change to meet the goals of incompetence and an elitist outlook on human freedom, one that is not set in anything solid and has no basis in fact. That river is not the Rio Grande.

But its looking a hell of a lot like the Rubicon.


JD said...

I am amazed that some citizen, more likely than not I guess retired military, has not decided to use their sniper or assasination training to start making these tyrants pay for their abdication of representing the citizens. Never has there been a better case for term limits than the crap that passes for the legislative process these days.

Legislative term limits or 50 caliber. I'm getting to the place lately where I don't care which.

JD said...

Further thoughts... I guess that no one's been assasinated yet speaks well of the professionalism of our troops. Active and retired.

A Jacksonian said...

jd - Most assassins are of the amateur variety, with Oswald being the rare exception. That is why I put up my Derived Cardinal Rules for Assassins: most assassins are either amateur or deranged. Professionals do *not* go after public figures, from what I can figure out. Assassins are *not* soldiers and have an entirely different outlook on life. Soldiers kill for their Nation and with sanction - Assassins kill as a profession and need to keep that at the top of their minds for personal survival.

The exception to this are terrorist organizations, like FARC's attempted assassination of President Clinton on a visit to Columbia. Terrorists kill for a 'cause' even if that is often a fantastical one.

That said, the deranged, psychotics that normally go after political and other high ranking figures have not shown up for over a decade and heading on two. One wonders if that is due to some sociological factor or not... they do, however, show up on school grounds and college campuses. Very disaffected at a younger age and not having time to grow up.

Soldiers make the worst assassins, by and large, and when they do go after political figures it is usually not with a sane mind or seeking personal power alone. And it bespeaks very, very highly that the compact of civil authority guiding military action has held up well over these centuries.

May it continue to do so.

JD said...

Perhaps I was a little loose in my use of the term assasination. Our soldiers, if my memory serves, have sworn to defend the constitution against all enemies foreign AND domestic. I guess my surprise is that of the 10s thousands of active and retired personnel who would have the ability to carry out a professional quality "assasination" none have done so. One would think that in a population that large someone could convince themselves they were fulfilling their oath. Furthermore, they wouldn't have to go very far to convince me they were right.

BTW, I love your work. You do a great job and provide a very valuable service providing your point of view.

A Jacksonian said...

jd - My thanks! I am trying to find some sense so as to address a world slowly going senseless. A damned hard thing to do in this day and age.

Those who come through the military, in today's generation, are Volunteers and see that the Nation and its principles and values are worth defending and upholding. Of those Due Process of Law is held the highest and paramount to liberty and freedom. One does not join up without that sense to begin with, and the regimen of disciplined work at defending it makes the holding of that ideal very strong, indeed. Violating the trust put in the Armed Forces is something that would break the Union apart down to the core - all the way to the Declaration. Our Citizen Soldiers in many lands have seen exactly what happens when that is broken: chaos and tyranny ensue.

Our lack of faith in *ourselves* is likewise dividing the Nation. The 'two sides' now address things that no longer sustain the Nation and put its survival at risk, and because of the size of the US the entirety of the modern world trembles when America founders in its self-belief. That trust of the founding generation on *both* sides of the Constitutional debate was in the inherent ability of the Citizenry to hold dialogue about the common Nation, and yet still have fierce attachment and loyalty to their beliefs and their States. That starts from the Declaration and through the Preamble and puts the Citizen as ultimate bag holder with ultimate power. To change politics by use of the gun requires the hardest stringencies and threat to liberty and then being held accountable, for good or ill, for taking action and putting forth that it is not something done to make tyrannical choice. Lone gunmen cross that line and decide, for themselves, what is good or not for society and that gets one rule by Warlord.

Of all the lacks in politics today a Nationalist Party is the greatest void. One that upholds having a Nation in common first and the laws to keep such going via representative democracy. And to let other Nations know that we do stand for *something* that is not 'business' or 'trade' or 'humanitarian concerns'. But FOR Liberty secured so that individuals may know the fruits of their labor and be able to do good by their own conscience. Such a party would have no truck with a 'Peace Corps' nor 'UN' nor 'NAFTA', because there is no basis for them for a Free People... to uphold this Nation amongst all Nations and be held accountable and hold others accountable to their actions. Where is *that* Party?

What the People have, with their States, is the way out: Take up arms lawfully and as needed to protect yourself and your State when other forces cannot intercede in times of invasion or Danger. We do not do that in the United States and have handed so much over to the Federal that there is no ability to even *state* that the People are the ultimate holders of law and force and will be held accountable to them, and in that doing HOLD higher government accountable to ITS lacks.

The worry was, with the forming of the Constitution, that 13 States would be so parochial, so invested with themselves, that there would be continuous internecine sniping and war. The Constitution was made to limit that, but not *end it*... yet, today, there are only a handful of States that actually have a self-identity left, and while those still have them they do not do anything to defend their State nor history nor outlook.

And the Nation suffers because of that.

It does not take much to find those that keep and bear arms and ask them if they really mean those arms are a social and societal good *beyond* mere ownership. A good right to defend more than themselves and their families and property, but to defend society and their State and let the Nation know it needs to abide by the agreements of 1787. One State with its People can fundamentally alter the Nation in ways valid and Constitutional, and yet overturn decades of thought in that doing.

As it is both 'Right' and 'Left' cooperate in adding more to government and, thusly, taking more from the People and making those things unaccountable. Representative government to actually *represent* the diversity of opinion on what it means to have a Nation was seen as the bedrock of the Nation in 1787. At the time Boston having ONE representative seemed *absurd* for the diversity of opinion in that city on the National scale. Liberty from wide and diverse democracy that represents the People was meant to secure freedom. Limiting representation has limited democracy and slowly shifted the ability of the People to address government as something held accountable to them... instead we find staff and bureaucrats that we are supplicants *to*.

An Assassin's bullet does not change that, nor even 435 of them.

We must change that, by our actions and our deeds. Because We agree that We hold the bag on this... and the Power to change it as the ultimate source of All Power in the Nation rests in each of us.

JD said...

You response reminds me of the point made by Bill Wittle at http://www.ejectejecteject.com/. His latest two part essay stresses the need to change as a citizen in order to change the situation of govenrment IIRC. I'm afraid with the built-in upper class of legislators and the degree to which they are unaccountable to their constituents personal change may only work with strict term limits and fearless prosecution of seditionists. The political parties in this country are so dysfunctional no meaningful representation or governance happens anymore. Strict term limits would refocus legislators on their job since they would not be constantly running for re-election.

One more thing, I've been reading about the intentions of the founding fathers in "America: The Last Best Hope" by Bill Bennet. Very interesting to read about the thoughts of the FF while the constitution was beeing drafted and ratified.

Nice speaking with you.

JD said...

Re-reading your last response I'd like to make two points:

First you say "...the Citizen as ultimate bag holder with ultimate power" - I agree this is true if the goverment is responsive to the opinions of the represented. But look at this government recently (The Illegal Alien Amnesty Bill for example) The congress and President attempted to push through a very unpopular law decided without public debate or even informed representatives on the subject. That is not the hallmark of a representative government that listens to it's citizens. I would submit that at some point near where we are now some one will decide that since there is no responsibility to the governed's wishes more drastic measure may or should take place - including violence. (I personally would rather legal term limits be tried first)

Second you state "To change politics by use of the gun requires the hardest stringencies and threat to liberty and then being held accountable, for good or ill, for taking action and putting forth that it is not something done to make tyrannical choice. Lone gunmen cross that line and decide, for themselves, what is good or not for society and that gets one rule by Warlord."

In response to that I would refer to Sulla.


There is precident for military intervention in western society which later releases the government back to civilian rule. In a manner it is exaclty what Washington did upon leaving offce vouluntarily after his term as president had ended.

I just wanted to point out that other than legal means don't always result in tyranny and non-violent means sometimes are not enough.

I fear we will move closer to this showdown before we move away.

A Jacksonian said...

jd - Washington actually had a talk with his commanders which convinced them *not* to take charge of things. For that we have Washington to thank as the States had not: funded the troops, sent proper supplies to the troops, and had played political games against Washington during the Revolution. That one man can establish a tradition, but it has been ages since a Cincinnatus has actually appeared and they are, apparently, few and far between. America has broken many molds, however, but the sparsity of such good men does not lead me to much enthusiasm with military intervention to assure civil society. Especially in this era where the decay of the Nation State is making its structure fragile on a global basis and America stands as a paramount example of what democracy within a Nation *means*.

Also the post-Revolution period under the Articles saw uprisings, insurrections and like goings-on in response to the immediate government's lack of ability to apportion taxes. Many small farmers were being thrown into debtors prison for NO debt they personally garnered. In many cases it was the soldiers who had served who were taking up arms, and Shays came closest of many attempts to change government by point of gun. We are, perhaps, one Shays away from *that* returning to America. We forget our own history and the longer view of it at our peril, and it is only that the Revolutionaries had put forth a democratic means to join in Confederation and utilize forces to establish the Union that the creation of the Union was safeguarded. Any attempting mere brute force without the backing of conceptual understanding that they put forth and adhere to is no friend of liberty. That is the great lessons of Revolutions: the structure that brings them to power will then be IN power once the Revolution is over.

America's Revolution was based on the ideas and ideals of democracy and representative government and Congress being able to find a Leader for the Army to then defend the Colonies becoming Nation. Without that backing and the personal strength of Washington, things would have been very different.

The class structure that has built up for the political parties and their Elites has been a slow growth business, but has been reinforced by the very things that were meant to 'stabilize' democracy by the Progressives in the late 19th and early 20th century. Diverse and quarrelsome democracy is not pretty, but it does work... just not quickly nor efficiently. By looking to make democracy faster and more efficient the restraints upon democracy have now made it far less than representative of the People. The era of the 20th century that saw the supremacy of the Nation State in all things has led to its corrosion and decay as those wishing to create an undemocratic structure OVER Nations wish to change the course of mankind back to Elite rule.

Thus a military coup not backed by democratic means begins to look suspiciously like many another coup in S. America, Africa, Asia, and even in Europe. One of which was the assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand by a radical Serbian separatist. From small means comes absolute horror and global war.

To overthrow government we have two means directly in the Constitution: Amending and Convention.

I have always seen Amending as the preferable of the two so as to exercise diverse democracy and then force the power structure to explain itself. That is why I do go on about changing that 'no greater than 30,000' to 'equal to 30,000' for Representatives and then removing House personal staff and only keeping committee staff. We now have means to get nearly 10,000 individuals to communicate and actually do their *jobs* of making good government. Try to find 10,000 dispersed Elites across the Nation in large towns and small and in diverse neighborhoods and congested urban populations. That is actually the *opposite* of Elite.

The pay would not be great, you work from home, and you actually have to *live* amongst your neighbors whom you Represent. I am sure the first couple of sessions will sweep up nearly every lawyer in America... who will then disagree so vehemently with each other that their inability to *form* law will be seen. Plain and simple Amendment to return representation to the House.

Convention for single issues I have always considered to be ill-advised. Still do for those wanting just one single issue, like, say, abortion or education or some such. That is purely local for scope and needs addressing down to that level. A Governor calling upon his Citizenry to enforce the Laws by their own cognizance, including the Federal, and then having a bunch of illegals that the Federal will not deal with?

Where is the equal protection guaranteed *by* the Constitution, in that? For something of that level, where the actual administration of laws unjustly, unfairly or negligently by the Federal Government is a great and grave cause to call a Convention to hold the Federal Government accountable. And the role of the military is to studiously sit on the sidelines and announce: We are Citizens and this is absolutely legitimate under the Constitution and We support it because that is Our Oath to the People.

Now you're talking! The shot *not* fired heard around the world.

A military that upholds the Rights of Citizens to 'change or abolish government' is the *perfect* way to change things. And there is *nothing* the Washington Elite structure can do about it.

The States, clearly, did not sign a suicide pact in 1787. Article I, Section 10 is clear demonstration of it, as are the Bill of Rights securing all Rights not enumerated in the Constitution to the States and the People.

One Governor absolutely fed up with the Federal Government is all it takes with Just Grievance and neglect by the Federal side. We gots lots of that around! 7-30 million of them at last count.

As said of Andrew Jackson: "One man with courage makes a majority."

And that is how one is made.