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|The Federal Government is the Problem|
"You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in their struggle for independence." - Charles Austin Beard
At the outset, many of the framers of the U.S Constitution were the best minds and mainly principled advocates of self-government. Their attempt to achieve a model for a “Federalism” form of a Republic is certainly unique in history. With great gratitude, successive generations should admire and respect an intellectual application and recognition that government, by composition, should be feared and restrained. The irony that some authors possessed such wisdom, and constraints were codified, does not match with the unfortunate record for their creation. Their endeavor proved insufficient to alter the base character of human nature. Acknowledgment of historic fact, does not desecrate the failed effort, but celebrates the attempt. Without necessary criticism the prospect for any meaningful revision is impossible.
The crux and crumple of the structure rest upon a false objective that an elastic central government can serve the basic purpose of society. In order to achieve the state of inherent autonomy, the State must be confined to a subordinate authority. The only legitimacy that is conveyed upon any government, rests upon the consent of citizens. Surely, only a toady for the regime, will argue that individual liberty and the common good, is the basis upon which the central government operates.
The Federalist Papers are usually cited as the primary source regarding constitutional debate. However, that viewpoint embodies a very pro ratification sentiment. A more comprehensive account can be found in the Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 by Max Farrand published in 1911, which gathers the documentary records of the Constitutional Convention into four volumes. Also the Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution are a five-volume collection compiled by Jonathan Elliot in the mid-nineteenth century.
The volumes remain the best source for materials about the national government's transitional period between the closing of the Constitutional Convention in September 1787 and the opening of the First Federal Congress in March 1789. On September 17, 1787, the Continental Congress accepted the recommendation of the Constitutional Convention and agreed to distribute the proposed constitution to the states; each state was then to elect delegates to a state convention to approve or disapprove the new constitution. The Constitution would take effect upon ratification by the conventions of nine of the thirteen states.
Most students are aware that the Bill of Rights was a subsequent addition to quell the concerns of distrustful skeptics. The lawful ratification by the original States has also been brought into question. Yet, the exact motivations of the Hamiltonian Federalist faction, is often ignored.
The progressive historian Charles A. Beard, in the Framing the Constitution presents evidence that the framers of the Constitution were less interested in furthering democratic principles than in protecting private property and the interests of the wealthy class. His economic determinist stance is further developed in his An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution. But you don’t have to adopt a Marxist viewpoint to concede that the crucial impetus to form a potent central government drove the movement to discard the well-served Articles of Confederation. The foremost attribute of a politician is to acquire power, while preaching public service.
The chronicle of executive abuse is undeniable. Whether a king or president, the role performed is one of personal and arbitrary enactments. It seldom represents the spirit of the law. While legislatures are often criticized as ineffective, they typically are more likely to remain rooted in their own local community. Add to this dilemma for supremacy, a high court. If a constitution is the supreme law of the land, how can it be logically consistent to accept that a judiciary can invent jurisprudence and have the last word on what is lawful? Despotism unleashed the sentiment for independence, won by a bloody revolution. Accepting an inevitable tyranny from the bench, as the price to claim a legal status, is ridiculous. The idea of a balance of powers is non-existent in a political environment that is shaped by barristers enamored with their own version of a British Crown.
Did the U.S. Constitution really break with the king and a constitutional parliament, or did it simply guarantee that a charade of popular franchise, would replace one form of legalism for another set of contrived judicatory rule? The structure for a central government was above all meant to exert a limited role and scope. Individual States would remain self-governing, with different functions and jurisdiction; within a larger union. An imaginative vision, but examine the reality.
|Tyranny masquerades as the Law|
As difficult as it is for traditional conservatives to admit, their sacred document could not craft an enlightened human nature. Those who seek to become instruments of governance only perpetuate the error of creating an office that leads to an imperial president and an omniscient judiciary. Even under a Jefferson presidency, MARBURY v. MADISON (1803), became a land mark case establishing the practice of judicial review by federal courts over acts of the other two branches of government. The dream died as the court appropriated the ultimate say. Brute force and deadly coercion gain dominance within the executive, and manifested its culmination with Lincoln’s war of Northern Aggression. So much for viable sovereignty embodied in individual will. The clash of cultures produced the authoritarianism of a central government, because the U.S. Constitution created a model that encouraged the empowerment of a presidency.
Citing a review by Brendan Michael Dunn of Douglass G. Adair’s influential dissertation - The Intellectual Origins of Jeffersonian Democracy: Republicanism, the Class Struggle, and the Virtuous Farmer - sums up the fundamental conflict that lead to the acceptance of a flawed constitution.
“The greatest differences then between Hamilton and the Virginians were at the practical rather than the theoretical level. While Jefferson and Madison, in spite of the failures of the federal system, hoped to maintain the states and limit the power of the national government through separated powers, Hamilton sought to eliminate the states while unifying power at the national level. In short, the central conflict between the Jeffersonian Democrats and the Hamiltonian Federalists was not over the relative merits of social classes, but in their approach to the pre-existing states and to the character of the reformed national authority. There was a serious division at the Founding, but Adair did not fully identify it. The Founders were primarily divided on the response to a problem caused by America's federal character.”
Mr. Dunn has it correct, even though conventional custom accepts the Statist approach of an advantageous central government. By allowing the U.S Constitution to incorporate a compromise with the Federalists, the doomed fate of the Republic was sealed. The myth that all the Founders were limited government advocates is at the core of the failed constitution. From the outset, the political rivalry essentially assured that the intent of the charter would be subverted. The drive for dominance among the Hamilton cabal had the political and economic backing of the more influential segment of society. The adverse consequences we live under today were not prevented or even curtailed by that legal document. The country never did constitute a real republic. Even if a dubious ratification took place, the results remain the same.
If the law is but a tool to cloak coercion and federal governmental compliance, what freedom remains for indigenous community life? Without sovereign self-determination, what meaning does the Bill of Rights retain? The reality is that the Constitution has become but an impediment for the federal authorities to circumvent when it conflicts with the STATE. However, when it suits its interests, it is used as a bureaucratic and judicial weapon in the constant war against citizens. How can individual rights be protected when the skeleton for a voluntary union has already lost its skin? What remains is a carcass, picked over by vultures of privilege and protection.
Advocacy to restore the Constitution falls short. Reform can never reinstate a natural autonomy. The establishment of an excessive central government is the tragic legacy of a flawed organization that diminished individual States authority. The essential quandary for the paradox that results from the creation of the contract is how do you hold public officials accountable and enforce sanctions for abusing the highest law of the land? Obviously, the government cannot be trusted to respect the rightful limits originally intended. If a band of urban Founding Fathers perverted their own meaning of the Constitution, what chance exists in the ominous age of globalism?
At the very least, let us be honest and debate with integrity. The U.S. Constitution destroyed the voluntary union and replaced it with an unforgiving master. Our mutual mission should seek the building of a genuine Republic. Only with the admission that the experiment failed, can the future be rescued.
December 26, 2004
About the Author:
Federal Observer contributor, Sartre is the pen name of a reformed, former political operative. This pundit's formal instruction in History, Philosophy, and Political Science served as training for activism, on the staff of several politicians and in many campaigns. We invite you to visit his website at: Breaking All The Rules.
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