2012 Endorsements: James Madison

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 22nd, 2012

2012 Election

The Father of the Constitution nudged the Father of the Country out of Retirement

The Confederation Congress did not work as well as some had hoped.  Despite having won their independence from Great Britain there was still no feeling of national unity.  Sectional interests prevailed over national interests.  Greatly affecting the ability of the national government to function.  Negating the benefits of union.  And offering little respect for the young nation on the world stage.  The new nation simply was not taken seriously at home.  Or abroad.  Prompting a meeting of states delegates in Annapolis in 1786.  Twelve delegates from five states showed up.  The states just didn’t care enough.  The convention adjourned after only three days.  But not before Alexander Hamilton put a plan together for another convention in Philadelphia for the following year.

The states were happy with the way things were.  They did not want to give up any of their powers to a new central authority.  But the problem was that the states were fighting against each other.  Trying to protect their own economic interests and their own trade.  Some could extend this behavior out into the future.  And they did not like what they saw.  States with similar interests would form regional alliances.  And these alliances would ally themselves with some of the European powers who were also on the North American continent.  The northern states (having industry and commerce) would join together and ally with the industrial and commerce powerhouse Great Britain.  The agrarian southern states would join together and ally with Great Britain’s eternal enemy.  France.  And the western territories dependent on the Mississippi River to get their agricultural goods to marker would ally with the European power in control of the Mississippi River.  Spain.  Who were both eternal enemies of Great Britain.  And the centuries of warfare on the European continent would just extend to North America.  Some saw this as the American future if they didn’t unite and put the nation’s interests ahead of sectional interests.

The Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787 almost didn’t happen.  For there was as much interest in it as there was in the Annapolis Convention in 1786.  James Madison, the father of the Constitution, made the meeting in Philadelphia a reality.  By his persuasive efforts with his neighbor.  George Washington.  Father of our Country.  Then in retirement at Mount Vernon with no interest to reenter public life after resigning his commission following the Revolutionary War.  He could have been king then but declined the numerous offers to make him so.  Happy that they won their independence he just wanted to live out his years on his farm.  Like Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus.  Who left his plough to become dictator of the Roman Republic.  To defend the Roman Republic.  He defeated the enemy.  Resigned his dictatorship.  And returned to his plough.  Earning a cherished place in our history books.  Something Washington had just done.  Only taking some 8 years instead of 16 days like Cincinnatus.  His place in history had come with a far greater price.  And he did not want to risk losing what he had earned after paying so dearly for it.  But Madison knew that it would take Washington’s presence to get the other states to send their delegates.  So Madison was persistent.   The Father of the Constitution nudged the Father of the Country out of retirement.  And made the retired general do the last thing he wanted to do.  Return to public life.  As he was already an old man who outlived the average lifespan of Washington men.

Madison didn’t believe a Bill of Rights would Stop a Majority from Imposing their Will on the Minority

It took four long, miserable months to produce the new constitution.  It was a hot and insufferable summer.  And they kept the windows of Independence Hall closed to block out the city noise.  And prevent anyone from hearing the debates.  So the delegates could speak freely.  And after those four long months the delegates signed the new document.  Not all of them.  Some hated it and refused to sign it or support it.  And would actively fight against it during the ratification process.  As they did not like to see so much power going to a new federal government.  Especially as there was no bill of rights included to help protect the people from this new government.  The document they produced was based on the Virginia Plan.  Which was drafted by James Madison.  Which is why we call him the Father of the Constitution.  So Virginia was instrumental in producing the new constitution.  And the delegates finally agreed to it because of another Virginian.  George Washington.  Making Virginian ratification of the new constitution conditional for other states to ratify it.  So all eyes were on Virginia.  For without Virginia all their efforts in Philadelphia would be for naught.  Because if Virginia did not join the union under the new Constitution that meant George Washington would be ineligible to be president.

Of course getting Virginia to ratify was another story.  Because George Washington and James Madison were not the only Virginians in politics.  There was also George Mason.  Who wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776).  Which Thomas Jefferson may have borrowed from when writing the Declaration of Independence.  And Mason also wrote the Virginia State Constitution (1776).  Mason opposed granting the new federal government so much power and refused to sign the Constitution in Philadelphia.  And then there was Patrick Henry.  Perhaps the greatest Patriot orator.  And of “Give me Liberty, or give me Death!” fame.  Which he shouted out during the Stamp Act (1765) debates.  He was also Virginia’s first governor under the new state constitution.  Mason and Henry were Patriots of the 1776 school.  The kind that hated distant central powers.  Whether they were in London.  Or in New York.  Mason wanted a bill of rights.  Henry, too.  As well as amendments transferring a lot of power from the federal government back to the states.  Or, better yet, no federal constitution at all.  Which Henry would work towards by leading a fierce ratification opposition.

Perhaps the greatest flaw of the new constitution as many saw was the lack of a bill of rights.  This was a contentious issue during the convention.  It was the reason why Mason refused to sign it.  As there was nothing to check the powers of the new government and protect the people’s liberties.  So why did they not include a bill of rights?  Because it was not necessary.  According to Madison.  Who fought against it.  Because the new federal government was a government of limited powers.  It wasn’t like the state governments.  The new federal government only did those things the states didn’t do.  Or shouldn’t do.  Like treat with other nations.  Provide a common defense.  Regulate interstate trade.  Things that expanded beyond a state’s borders.  And what powers it had were enumerated.  Limited.  It did not repeal individual rights protected by state constitutions.  And had no authority over those rights.  Whatever rights a person enjoyed in their state were untouchable by the new federal government.  Therefore, a bill of rights was not necessary.  Which actually protected rights greater than listing them.  For whatever rights they forgot to list the federal government would assume were fair to abuse.  Finally, Madison didn’t believe a bill of rights would stop a majority from imposing their will on the minority.  A tyranny of the majority.  Something he saw firsthand as a young man returning from college.  Where the state of Virginia harassed and imprisoned Baptist ministers for holding Baptist services in Anglican Virginia.  Something he didn’t forget.  Nor did the Baptists.

If James Madison were Alive Today he would Likely Endorse the Republican Candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan

Patrick tried hard to prevent the ratification of the constitution in Virginia.  But failed.  When it came time for the Virginian legislature to elect their federal senators Henry campaigned hard against Madison and saw him defeated.  When it came to the federal House elections Henry drew the new Congressional districts that made Madison campaign in a district full of people that mostly disagreed with him.  Which it took a change of his position on adding a bill of rights to the Constitution to overcome.  His position gradually changed from opposed to being lukewarm to being a strong supporter.  In part due to some correspondence with Thomas Jefferson then serving in France.  And the Baptists’ concerns over rights of conscience.  Something Madison had longed believed in.  Believing religious liberty was essential to a free people.  As the Constitution stood there were no safeguards specifically against the oppression like that the Anglicans imposed on the Baptists earlier.  What the Baptists wanted was a bill of rights.

Madison promised, if elected, to introduce an amendment to the Constitution addressing their concerns.  In fact, a bill of rights would be the first Constitutional amendment.  And he would introduce it and fight for it until it was ratified.  Based on this promise the Baptists threw their support behind Madison.  Got him elected to the House of Representatives.  And Madison delivered on his promise.  Championing a bill of rights through Congress.  The Father of the Constitution also became the Father of the Bill of Rights.  And then it was a knockdown drag-out fight in the Virginian legislature to get the new Bill of Rights ratified.   Where the opposition to ratification was led by none other than Patrick Henry.  But he would lose that fight, too.  And the nation would have a federal government with limited, enumerated powers.  With individual liberties protected by a bill of rights.  Providing a federal government powerful enough to do the things it needed to do like treat with other nations, provide a common defense, regulate interstate trade, etc.  Those things that expanded beyond a state’s borders.  And in the following decade we would be prosperous because of it.

None of this could have happened without Virginia’s ratification of the Constitution.  Which opened the door for George Washington to be our first president.  And helped New York ratify the Constitution.  With the ratification in Virginia.  And the letter writing campaign in support of ratification.  Which appeared in newspapers.  Articles written by James Madison and Alexander Hamilton (mostly) and John Jay.  Now published as the Federalists Papers.  Thanks to the tireless efforts of Madison and Hamilton the nation had a new form of government.  But Madison and Hamilton would soon part ways once Hamilton was Secretary of the Treasury.  And took great liberties with the necessary and proper clause of the Constitution.  Expanding the power and scope of the federal government far beyond what Madison had ever envisioned.  Which moved Madison into closer company with George Mason and Patrick Henry.  Desperately trying to hold onto states’ rights and oppose the expansion of the federal government.  Like he would oppose the great overreach of the federal government today.  The transfer of power from the states to the federal government.  And the expansion of suffrage to include those who don’t own property or pay taxes.  Leading to mob rule at times.  Populism.  And a tyranny of the majority.

Madison suffered ill health most of his life.  Stomach disorders and dysentery.  Brought on by the pressures of public service.  If he were alive today he probably wouldn’t remain alive long.  Seeing what has happened to his Constitution would probably kill him.  If he had the chance to vote today he would vote for the party that championed limited government.  The party that would stop the growth of the federal government.  And reduce its size.  The party that governed for all people and not the will of the populist mob.  The party that did NOT govern through class warfare but through sound principles.  If James Madison were alive today he would likely endorse the Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

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LESSONS LEARNED #61: “The political elite has always exploited blacks.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 14th, 2011

The New World leaves old Prejudices in the Old World

Americans hated Catholics.  And why not?  Most Americans were British.  In the 18th century.  When Protestant Great Britain was forever at war with Catholic France.  Since the Reformation, it’s what Protestants and Catholics did.  Hated each other.  You just did it.  Eventually you would learn why.  But by then you were already hating.

Also, in the 18th century, slavery was part of normal life.  As it had been for centuries.  Slavery was often the misfortune of a conquered people.  Part of the social strata.  Or simply an economic tool.  Such as used in Mercantilism.  As European powers established colonies, they needed bodies to exploit the raw material and send it back to the mother country.  And the ‘godless’ people they were able to buy from African slave traders were perfect.  These ‘savages’ were little more than animals.  Struggling to live in a hostile environment.  They were better off in slavery.  In the New World they would have food and shelter.  And their masters would protect them from their hostile environment.  The way they saw it, they were doing them a favor.  Or so went the prevailing thought of the day.

During the Revolutionary War, George Washington commanded an army made up from all the colonies.  They were mostly Protestant.  But it also included Catholics.  So he had to tone down the anti-Catholic sentiment that was pretty pervasive among many of these British Americans.  And then there was a march into Canada by General Benedict Arnold.  To get the Catholic Canadians (once a French colony) to join the American cause.  (They passed on the offer.)  And so it was in the Army that the American cause transcended religion.  For it was in the army where the Protestant fought side by side with the Catholic.  As well as the free black.  Who yearned for that liberty, too, that the Americans were fighting for.  Giving Washington pause for thought.  Protestant.  Catholic.  Black.  White.  They were all people.  Americans.  This thing they were fighting for was greater than the individual colonies.  The New World would in fact be a new world.  The prejudices of the past would be left in the Old World.  And he learned that in the Army.  Where America was truly born. 

The Three Fifths Compromise Empowers the Planter Elite

It was many of these Army veterans that championed religious freedom.  And the abolitionist movements.  But the pull of the Deep South was strong.  Their planter elite, though a minority of the population, dominated political power.  Much like the landed aristocracy of feudal Europe.  They had money, power and influence.  Their view of the Revolutionary War was different than George Washington’s.  They weren’t looking to build anything greater.  No.  They just wanted to get rid of the British.  And go back to the way things were.

With the war won, that’s exactly what a lot of people did.  Go back to the way things were.  There were problems, though.  War debt, for one.  And a lack of unanimous consent.  The Confederation Congress required a unanimous vote to do anything.  Which was a rare thing.  The sectional interests were just too strong.  So in 1787, they gathered in Philadelphia to write a new constitution.  And create a new nation.  It wasn’t easy.  During the ratification process, some holdouts agreed to ratify if they added a Bill of RightsJames Madison agreed to this and worked tirelessly in the first Congress to deliver on this promise.  The issue of slavery?  That was a different story.

The Deep South would join only if the subject of slavery was off the table.  They agreed.  Tabled it for 20 years.  Give the South time to figure out how to end slavery.  Then they settled on issues of taxation and representation.  The majority of the southern population were slaves.  If they couldn’t count them to determine representation in the new government, the Deep South would have no say in the new federal government.  So they agreed on the Three Fifths Compromise.  They would count slaves as 3/5 a person.  It was a high price to pay for compromise.  For it gave the planter elite of the Deep South a disproportionate vote in Congress.  And in the Electoral College.  Which meant that this minority in the Deep South determined much of American policy until the Civil War.  Thanks to a large black population that couldn’t vote.

Liberal San Francisco:  White, Right and Out of Sight

San Francisco is an interesting town.  They don’t come much more liberal.  Or whiter.  Liberals are lucky if they’re 20% of the national population.  But a good chunk of that 20% apparently lives in San Francisco.  Nancy Pelosi coasted to reelection in 2010 with 80% of the vote even though her national approval numbers were horrible.  Her favorable ratings barely broke 10%.  In other words, the American people were sick of her and her far left liberal agenda.  They voted a bunch of her cronies out of the House of Representatives, and her from the Speakership, transferring control from the Democrats to the Republicans for the first time in a long time.  Her views are definitely not America’s views.  But they’re clearly San Francisco’s views.

Of course, many of the good people of San Francisco think that the other 80% of Americans are just too dumb to know better.  We exasperate them.  For they are the enlightened people.  The intelligentsia.  The caring.  And they were the first to drive hybrids.  Even South Park ridiculed them for that.  Calling San Francisco the smuggest place in America.  Where they like the smell of their own farts.  And they may very well like to smell their own farts.  But you know what they don’t like?  Black people (see Blacks and Republicans by Thomas Sowell posted 3/15/2011 on National Review).

The black population of San Francisco is less than half of what it was in 1970, and it fell another 19 percent in the past decade…

Blacks are being forced out of San Francisco — and out of other communities on the San Francisco peninsula — by high housing prices…

The black population in three adjacent counties on the San Francisco peninsula is just under 3 percent of the total population in the 39 communities in those counties.

It so happens that these are counties where voters and the officials they elect are virtually all liberal Democrats. You might be hard pressed to find similarly one-sided conservative Republican communities where blacks are such small percentages of the population.

So, in other words, rich liberals love to have black people vote for them.  But they don’t want to live anywhere near them.

AFDC and Abortion and the Black Family

America changed in the 1970s.  The sexual revolution was in full force.  Women’s liberation.  Abortion and birth control.  And all the feel-good programs of LBJ’s Great Society to end poverty and racial injustice.  The liberals were changing America.  The black community.  And the neighborhoods of San Francisco.

Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) caused an epidemic in children being born out of wedlock.  Because the government was paying single women per baby they had.  So they kept having babies.  Because an inexperienced young man couldn’t get a job that would match the generosity of the government.  And it was a lot easier than being a working single-mom.  So kids grew up without a father.  Spent a lot of time on the streets.  Getting into trouble.  This destroyed families in poor neighborhoods.  Which also tended to be black neighborhoods.  It was the worst of unintended consequences.  But it sure did make the recipient of these benefits life-long Democrats.  Because if you have no skills and a large family to raise, what else are you going to do but depend on those government benefits?

Of course, liberal policies weren’t all about having babies.  They were also helping to provide a lot of abortions, too.  To empower women.  To fully liberate women and make them equals in the workplace.  Because they could now do anything a man could do.  Except pee while standing up.  But they could fool around like a man.  And not have to worry about the consequences.  Just like a man.  So with abortion, birth control and a sexual revolution going on, you can guess what a lot of people were doing.  Having consequence-free fun.  If you know what I mean.  But much like AFDC, this liberation appears to have hit the black population especially hard.  A black woman is three-times as likely as a white woman to get an abortion.  And it is the only demographic where abortions exceed live births. 

Abortion is a very controversial subject with data that is often politicized.  Also, there may be other extenuating circumstances that result in these numbers.  But it shows a trend.  Liberal policies have unintended consequences.  And blacks have suffered a disproportional share of these consequences. 

The Democrat Party is the Party of Slavery and Institutionalized Discrimination

So what does this tell us about rich liberals?  First of all, they’re mostly white.  They claim that they are not the racists yet their actions indicate otherwise (San Francisco is mostly liberal and mostly white).  Their views are a minority view.  The 2010 midterm elections clearly showed that.  Yet they wield some of the greatest political power.  How do they do that?  By pandering.  To the labor unions.  The public sector unions.  The teachers.  That usual bunch that benefits by liberal policies and liberal spending.  And, of course, blacks.

When you look at the history, the Democrats haven’t been all that kind to black America.  It was the Southern Democrats who did their best to perpetuate the institution of slavery.  It was the Southern Democrats that institutionalized discrimination in the South following the Civil War.  Yes, the Civil Rights Act was passed by the Johnson administration but it was the Republicans in the House and Senate that made that possible.  The Democrats had majorities in both houses but about a third of their members were against it.  Whereas only a fifth of the Republicans were against it.  In the final House vote, all the Southern Democrats needed was to get 37% of the Republicans to vote against it to stop its passage.  Instead, 80% of Republicans voted in favor of it.  And then, of course, there’s AFDC.  Thomas Sowell blames this (and the liberal welfare state) for destroying the black family.  And the black abortion stats would probably be called genocide in another country.  Some even call it that here.

Which brings us back to the teachers.  Because when you look at these numbers, it is clear that liberal policies have not been good to black families.  But the teachers are in tight with the liberals.  I mean, with their generous pay and benefit packages they get without the taxpayer having a say in their contract negotiations, why wouldn’t they?  The government takes care of them and they take care of government.  They emphasize multiculturalism, fairness and progressive thought.  And downplay history.  The Founding Fathers play minor roles in today’s textbooks.  But students today can all tell us that the Founding Fathers owned slaves.  But they seem to forget the part about Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, being a Republican.  And that the freed blacks voted for Republicans to protect themselves from racist Southern Democrats.  

Meet the New World.  Same as the Old World.

And then along comes Barack Obama.  The ideal liberal candidate.  And first black presidential candidate.  Because of our public education there is a lot of white guilt over slavery.  So a lot of white America would probably vote for Obama to assuage that guilt.  Which included a large part of those crucial independent voters.  Things were looking up.  But could he deliver the black vote?  He graduated from Harvard Law School.  Columbia University.  He’s an Ivy League guy.  Very professorial.  He could lecture the people.  So well that it offended some.  The Reverend Jesse Jackson said then candidate Obama talked down to black people.  He didn’t like that in the least.  Even said that he wanted to “cut his nuts off.”  So it wasn’t a sure thing.  The black vote.

Of course, Obama won that election.  He took 53% of the vote to McCain‘s 46%.  And the black vote?  All but 4% voted for Obama.  No one gets 96% of the vote.  Unless you’re a dictator in a third world country.  With blacks making up approximately 12% of the U.S. population, it is clear that the black vote determined the election.  For if the black vote followed the same percentage break down of the general vote, McCain would have won the election.

So here we are, some 150 years after the Civil War and the black population is still being exploited by the political elite.  The planter elite maintained power for half a century thanks to the Three Fifth Compromise.  And liberal Democrats today use the liberal welfare state to make as many blacks as possible dependent on government.  Use their control over the public school system to hide the failure of their policies.  Their destruction of the black family.  And their racist past.  To maintain their political power.  And minority rule.  Some things never change.

Meet the New World.  Same as the Old World.  Sadly.

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LESSONS LEARNED #17: “The raison d’être of federalism is to keep big government small.” -Old Pithy.

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 10th, 2010

ALEXANDER HAMILTON WAS a real bastard.  John Adams hated him.  Thomas Jefferson, too.  George Washington looked at him like a son.  Aaron Burr killed him.  Politics.  It can get ugly.

Hamilton’s father was having an affair with a married woman in a loveless marriage.  Fathered two children with her.  First James.  Then Alexander.  Both born on the British island of Nevis in the Caribbean.  His father then moved the family to the Danish island of St. Croix.  Shortly thereafter, Hamilton’s father abandoned his family.  Alexander was 10ish (there is some disagreement about his year of birth). 

At age 11ish, Alexander became a clerk at Cruger and Beekmen, an import-export firm.  There he learned about business and commerce.  People noticed his talent and ability.  Soon, they collected some money and sent him off to the American colonies for a college education.  Hamilton’s fondest memory of his childhood home was seeing St. Croix disappear into the horizon from the ship that delivered him to America.

Hamilton’s father did have some nobility in his lineage but he squandered it before it could do Alexander any good.  He was an illegitimate child (a real bastard).  His father abandoned him.  His mother died while he was young.  He had little but ability.  But that was enough to take him from St. Croix to the founding of a new nation.

Hamilton served in the Continental Army.  He served as General Washington’s aide-de-camp.  Hamilton was in the know as much as Washington.  His understanding of business, commerce and money made him acutely aware of the financial disarray of the Army.  And of the Continental Congress.  What he saw was a mess.

The Continental Congress was a weak central government.  It could not draft soldiers.  It could not impose taxes to pay her soldiers.  It could only ask the states for money to support the cause.  Contributions were few.  The congress tried printing money but the ensuing inflation just made things worse.  The Army would take supplies for subsistence and issue IOUs to the people they took them from.  The Congress would beg and borrow.  Most of her arms and hard currency came from France.  But they ran up a debt in the process with little prospect of repaying it.  Which made that begging and borrowing more difficult with each time they had to beg and borrow.

The army held together.  But it suffered.  Big time.  Washington would not forget that experience.  Or Hamilton.  Or the others who served.  For there was a unity in the Army.  Unlike there was in the confederation that supported the Army.

WARS ARE COSTLY.  And France fought a lot of them.  Especially with Great Britain.  She was helping the Americans in part to inflict some pain on her old nemesis.  And in the process perhaps regain some of what she lost to Great Britain in the New World.  You see, the British had just recently defeated the French in the French and Indian War (aka, the 7 Years War).  And she wanted her former possessions back.  But France was bleeding.  Strapped for cash, after Yorktown, she told the Americans not to expect any more French loans.

Wars are costly.  The fighting may have been over, but the debt remained.  The interest on the debt alone was crushing.  With the loss of a major creditor, America had to look elsewhere for money.  The Continental Congress’ Superintendent of Finance, the guy who had to find a way to pay these costs, Robert Morris, said they had to tax the Americans until it hurt they were so far in debt.  He put together a package of poll taxes, land taxes, an excise tax and tariffs.  The congress didn’t receive it very well.  Representation or not, Americans do not like taxes.  Of the proposed taxes, the congress only put the tariffs on imports before the states.

Rhode Island had a seaport.  Connecticut didn’t.  Rhode Island was charging tariffs on imports that passed through her state to other states.  Like to Connecticut.  Because they generated sufficient revenue from these tariffs, their farmers didn’t have to pay any taxes.  In other words, they could live tax free.  Because of circumstance, people in Rhode Island didn’t have to pay taxes.  Connecticut could pay their taxes for them.  Because of the Rhodes Island impost.  And the Robert Morris’ impost would take away that golden goose.

As the congress had no taxing authority, it would take a unanimous vote to implement the impost.  Twelve voted ‘yes’.  Rhode Island said ‘no’.  There would be no national tax.  ‘Liberty’ won.  And the nation teetered on the brink of financial ruin. 

DEFALTION FOLLOWED INFLATION.  When the British left, they took their trade and specie with them.  What trade remained lost the protection of the Royal Navy.  When money was cheap people borrowed.  With the money supply contracted, it was very difficult to repay that debt.  The Americans fell into a depression.  Farmers were in risk of losing the farm.  And debtors saw the moneymen as evil for expecting to get their money back.  The people demanded that their state governments do something.  And they did.

When the debtors became the majority in the state legislatures, they passed laws to unburden themselves from their obligations.  They passed moratoriums on the collection of debt (stay laws).  They allowed debtors to pay their debts in commodities in lieu of money (tender acts).  And they printed money.  The depression hit Rhode Island hard.  The debtors declared war on the creditors.  And threw property laws out the window.  Mob rule was in.  True democracy.  Rhode Island forced the creditors to accept depreciated paper money at face value.  Creditors, given no choice, had to accept pennies on the dollars owed.  No drawbacks to that, right?  Of course, you better pray you never, ever, need to borrow money again.  Funny thing about lenders.  If you don’t pay them back, they do stop lending.  The evil bastards.

Aristotle said history was cyclical.  It went from democracy to anarchy to tyranny.  Hamilton and James Madison, future enemies, agreed on this point.  A democracy is the death knell of liberty.  It is a sure road to the tyranny of the majority.  If you don’t honor written contracts, there can be no property rights.  Without property rights, no one is safe from arbitrary force.   Civilization degenerates to nature’s law where only the fittest and most powerful survive.  (In the social utopias of the Soviet Union and Communist China, where there were no property rights, the people’s government murdered millions of their people).

WINNING A WAR did not make a nation.  Before and after the Revolution, people thought in provincial terms.  Not as Americans.  Thomas Jefferson hated to be away from his country, Virginia.  Unless you served in the Continental Army, this is how you probably thought.  Once the common enemy was defeated, the states pursued their own interests.  (Technically speaking, they never stopped pursuing their own interests, even during the War).

In addition to all the other problems a weak Continental Congress was trying to resolve, states were fighting each other for land.  A localized war broke out between Pennsylvania and Connecticut over the Wyoming region in north east Pennsylvania.  And a region of New York was demanding their independence from that state.  Hamilton helped negotiate a peaceful solution and the confederacy admitted the new state, Vermont.

There were problems with the confederation.  And people were getting so giddy on liberty that that they were forgetting the fundamental that made it all possible.  Property rights.  States were moving closer to mob rule with no check on majority power.  And the smallest minorities held the legislation of the Confederate Congress (the Continental Congress renamed) hostage.  Land claims were pitting state against state with the Congress unable to do anything.  Meanwhile, her finances remained in shambles.  She had no credit in Europe.  And creditors wanted their money back. 

They were choosing sides.  And you can probably guess the sides.  Hamilton had no state allegiances, understood finance and capital, saw how an impotent congress was unable to support the Army during war, saw provincial interests hinder national progress and threaten civil war.  George Washington, Virginia’s greatest son, had long looked to the west and saw America’s future there.  Not Virginia’s future.  His war experience only confirmed what he believed.  America had a great future.  If they could only set aside their provincialism and sectional interests.  James Madison saw the tyranny of the majority in the Virginian State House first hand.  He liked partisanship.  He liked competing ideals debated.  He did not want to see a majority stampede their vision into law.

These were the nationalists.  Madison wanted a strong federal government to check the tyranny of the states.  Hamilton wanted to do away with the states altogether.  Washington wanted what was best for these several united states as a whole after so many labored for so long during the Revolutionary War.  Ultimately, he wanted to capitalize the ‘u’ and the’s’ in united states and make it a singular entity.

On the other side were many of the old 1776 patriots.  Many of who did not have any army experience.  Such as Thomas Jefferson.  In them, the Spirit of ’76 was alive and well.  The Revolutionary War was to free the states from the yoke of British oppression.  They remained provincials.  They did not spend up to 8 years in an army made up of soldiers from different states.  They had no sense of this nationalism.  They saw everything through the eyes of their state.  And a strong central government was just another yoke of oppression in their eyes.

THE ANSWER TO all of their concerns was federalism.  Shared sovereignty.  The states would give up a little.  And the new central government would take up a little.  The drafters of the Constitution set up a 3-branch government.  It included a bicameral legislature.  Membership in the House of Representatives would be proportional to a state’s population.  They would have power of the purse.  Including the authority to levy taxes.  In the Senate, each state would get 2 senators.  They would be chosen by the states’ legislatures (a constitutional amendment changed this to a popular vote).  This was to keep the spending of the House in check.  To prevent mob-rule.  And to check national power.  Each chamber would have to approve legislation for it to become law.  But each chamber did not need to have unanimous approval. 

That was in the legislature.  In the executive branch, the president would be head of state and execute the laws written by the legislature.  He would also conduct a uniform foreign policy.  The president could veto legislation to check the power of the legislature.  And the legislature could override the president’s veto to check the power of the president.  Where the law was in dispute, the judiciary would interpret the law and resolve the dispute.

At first glance, the people didn’t love the U.S. Constitution.  Those at the convention didn’t either, but they thought it was the best they could do.  To help the ratification process, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay wrote a series of essays, subsequently published as the Federalist Papers making the case for ratification.  Those opposed wanted a Bill of Rights added.  Madison did not think one was necessary.  He feared listing rights would protect those rights only.  If they forgot to list a right, then government could say that it wasn’t a right.  He acquiesced, though, when it was the price to get the Virginian Baptists on board which would bring Virginia on board. 

Madison promised to add a Bill of Rights after ratification.  So the states ratified it.  And he did.  The final document fell between what the nationalists wanted and what the ‘states’ government’ people wanted. 

OVER THE FOLLOWING years, each side would interpret the document differently.  When Hamilton interpreted broadly to create a national bank, to assume the states’ debts and to fund the debt, the other side went ballistic.  Madison, the father of the Constitution, would join Jefferson in opposition.  For they believed the point of the constitution was to keep big government small.  Hamilton was interpreting the ‘necessary and proper’ clause of the Constitution to make government big.  Nasty, partisan politics ensued.  And continue to this day.

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