Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Thin Rope Of Liberty

     Those that proffer socialism as a means of correcting the ills of capitalism often argue that the United States Constitution was written in such a different time, with different challenges, different populations that were mostly rural, that it no longer applies to American modernity. For these egalitarians, a document that claims God-given rights for the people, and limits the manmade authorities of government, is passé and out-of-date. They claim that a society based upon such notions as the Founders built a nation are inherently unfair and uncompassionate.
     James Madison's original intent in creating the document that became the structure of the U.S. Constitution was to hold together the union by limiting the ability of the states to print money and pass laws to erase their debts, mostly incurred from the Revolutionary War. He feared that a system in which the states wielded too much power would devolve into anarchy, and that one which empowered a central government beyond its mandate to be the adhesive that kept the states united, would end in a monarchy.
     Madison, the Father of our Constitution, even desired to give congress the power of veto over any and all state laws and regulations. That issue failed in the Constitutional Convention. It was only after the government began its operation under George Washington (influenced by the power-hungry Alexander Hamilton) and then John Adams (the man who had journalists and others arrested for speaking against the government), that Madison saw the overwhelming evidence for truly limited government. He and Jefferson formed the first political party which they called "Republican." (this was not the Republican Party of Lincoln but an earlier party with the same name).
     It is interesting to note that during the Adams administration when the Alien and Sedition Act was passed and implemented, resulting in the arrest of journalists and others, that Madison and Jefferson pushed for resolutions in state legislatures to essentially nullify the act. It was then that Hamilton, second in command of the U.S. military under George Washington, openly desired to raise an army and use it against the people of the commonwealth of Virginia. The power grab by the federal government under John Adams was so substantial that Thomas Jefferson, his vice-president (back in that time the vice president was the man who came in second in a presidential election) worked anomalously to pass resolutions against the Alien and Sedition Act for fear that he too would be arrested.  
     So why have I gone into all this history? Well I guess it is because I hear many today say we are in the midst of a constitutional crisis with the extra-constitutional activities of the current administration. History informs us that from the beginning of this country there has been a struggle for power, not only between the Executive branch and the Legislative branch of the federal government, but between the federal government and the states.
     The history puts into perspective our current constitutional crisis and informs us that throughout our history, from the very beginning to today, we have walked the tight rope of liberty stretched over the chasm of devolution by our constitution. Precariously we have spent the last 238 years in danger of falling off the thin rope of liberty and devolving into a form of government that enslaves the soul of man. That is why eternal vigilance truly is the price of liberty. I do not know if we will keep our balance through this current crisis, but I do know that through our history we have maintained our footing on that thin rope of liberty no matter what causes may have been aligned against us.

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