Note: This very well may be my last article for about a month or so. The time draws nigh that I am leaving on vacation and I have much to do in preparation for a much needed break from work. So if it is, enjoy this one as I put my heart and soul into it.
In 1822 James Madison wrote a letter in which he said, “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance.” Ignorance is not stupidity, it is defined as a lack of knowledge or information. Yesterday I printed out a very simple civics test; 10 questions everyone should be able to answer without giving them any thought; that is if they knew this country’s history and its Constitution. I left the test lying on tables in the cafeteria and sat back and observed as people picked them up and read them. The results were telling; there are a LOT of ignorant people living in this country in this day and age. Maybe my friend Mike is correct in renaming our species as Americanus Ignoramous.
I can’t recall who said it, but as I was growing up someone once said that a good day is one in which you learn something new. The problem with learning new things is that they need to be of use; otherwise they are simply trivia that serves no useful purpose. For instance, what good would it do me to learn how many perforations are on a check which allow you to tear it from the checkbook without ripping it in two; or how many coils there are in a standard phone cord?
As another example, football season is once again upon us and as I walk around at work I hear nonstop talk of the possibility of this team or that team making it to the Super Bowl; the attributes of this quarterback in comparison to that quarterback. Some of these people are walking, talking encyclopedias of football; but if you were to ask them to explain the difference between a democracy and a republic they would get, what I like to call, that stupid cow look on their face.
I’m not saying, nor have I ever said, that people should not be allowed to sit down and watch a good football game, or enjoy any other form of entertainment as far as that goes. When I am saying is that when people allow their quest for entertainment to overshadow their quest for new knowledge or information, we have a serious problem with our priorities; especially considering the following. You see, there is a second part to that quote by Madison, which states, “…and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
George Washington explained it thusly in an address to the American people, “The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.” For our system to work as designed it requires that the public at least have a rudimentary understanding of its structure, its purpose, and the powers granted it.
When someone who believes they have the right to vote, yet can’t name the chain of succession for president, or how many current Supreme Court Justices there are, we have a problem Houston. Our system cannot function as designed when those responsible for keeping it within its legal boundaries are ignorant as to what those boundaries are.
Unlike most living in America today, I have made it my personal goal to try to make that saying I once heard my life’s motto; to learn something new every day. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t; but the other day was such a day for me. I was listening to a podcast of the Roger Sayles radio show and one of the people who called in did so to discuss the origin of the word ‘nation’.
I had never given that much thought; I believed I knew what the word meant and how it was used in our modern vernacular, but when I heard this caller speak on the origin and meaning of the word it was as if a light bulb had been turned on inside my head and everything became clear. That’s what I call, not a good, but a GREAT day.
After hearing that I began thinking of how many words people use in their day to day discussions without ever really knowing the origin or meaning of the words they are using. Take for instance the word democracy; I hear people use it in reference to our system of government, but I’d be more than willing to bet that were I to ask them to describe what a democracy is, they would not be able to do so.
The word democracy has its origins back in 5th century Greece with the Athenian city-states being the first recorded examples of democracies in the world. The very first democracies, or direct democracies as they were called, were ones in which the people all gathered together to argue and decide which laws would apply to them all; a simple majority was all that was required to make something law.
Later a representative form of democracy developed; not one in which the representatives were elected, but rather one were lots were drawn to choose the representatives from among the people. Think of it like a raffle where the winners got to run government. Rich or poor, it did not matter; if your name was drawn you got to serve as a representative. But still, a simple majority was all it took for any measure to become law.
Using that as a definition, can you honestly say that what we have in America is a democracy? If not, then why do you insist on continuing to call our system of government a democracy? Our Founders, (even those who sought an extremely powerful central government), despised democracies, calling them things like evil and vile. Our Founders understood that for the liberty of the people a system of government was to represent to be secure there must be some limits as to what the government can, and cannot do.
What they established was a republic in which, through a democratic process, representatives would be chosen to administer government, but based strictly upon a set of laws governing what they could and could not do. The word republic comes from the Latin res publica which means ‘public affair’. A synonym would be the word commonwealth; as in The Commonwealth of Virginia.
That is why it is so imperative in this country that the people be knowledgeable regarding this country’s system of government. For them to be their own governors, as Madison put it, they must know what laws their government can, and cannot enact to remain within the limits of the law which established government. For, as Jefferson said in the Declaration of Independence, government derives its just powers from the consent of the people. When the powers exercised by government exceed those granted them, the power acquired by government becomes unjust; or tyrannical if you will.
Another concept which is not commonly discussed is that, if we created government, we can dismantle it; or tear it down, and there is not a damned thing government can do about it. Yet today when one talks like that they are thought of as subversive, or a danger to society. Why? If you got together with a group of friends and started a business, then hired people to run your business; what right would the people you hired have to deny you the ability to close your business down if it was, say, unprofitable? The same concept applies to government; we brought it to life, and we can kill, if you don’t mind my using that word, it.
Today people speak of government in terms that give me the distinct impression that they believe government to be this almighty entity; bestowed with great powers to be spoken of in hushed and reverent terms. Yet former Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas once posed the following question that is worth considering, “Since when have we Americans been expected to bow submissively to authority and speak with awe and reverance to those who represent us?”
Our Government, or at least those who work in our government, are merely employees of the people, hired to do a specific job on our behalf. If they screw up, or begin doing things they were not hired for; we have all the right in the world to get rid of them. We are the masters over them, not the other way around; after all, that’s why they are called representatives.
Back in 1787 when the Constitution was presented to the States for their consideration, one of the biggest concerns was that it created a system of government which would swallow up, or consolidate, all the States into a single entity. As each State was a sovereign and independent entity of their own, the sovereignty held by the States was something they jealously guarded.
What many feared is that the proposed Constitution would create a single nation; a consolidation of the 13 individual nations that existed at the time under the Articles of Confederation. This is where an understanding of the meaning of the words national and federal comes into play. Today those words are used interchangeably to describe our system of government; but back in 1787 they meant entirely different things.
In a federal system there may be a central government, but its powers are not typically used to enact laws which directly affected the lives of the people who live within the various member states of the confederation. The powers granted a federal form of government were directed mainly towards interaction between the states and for the protection of the whole from attack from outsiders.
In Federalist 45, Madison not only calls it a federal form of government, but he describes the relationship between the powers it would hold and those held by the States, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”
Those are the words used by Madison to reassure the people of New York that this new system of government would be federal, not national in form. A national government is one over an entire nation, without concern or regards for the sovereignty of the components that make up the nation; i.e. the States. In a national form of government the laws enacted by the government directly affect the lives of the people throughout the nation, as opposed to in a federal form of government where the laws apply only to the States as sovereign entities.
Patrick Henry stated it thusly in his argument in opposition to the proposed Constitution, “Is this a Confederacy, like Holland-an association of a number of independent states, each of which retains its individual sovereignty? It is not a democracy, wherein the people retain all their rights securely. Had these principles been adhered to, we should not have been brought to this alarming transition, from a Confederacy to a consolidated Government.”
The real question then is, did our Constitution establish a single nation; these United States of America, or did it create a system of government designed to pass laws to which 13, now increased to 50 independent sovereign nations were to obey? Did it consolidate the parts into one nation, or did it leave them as being free and independent States; the status they found themselves in upon the signing of the Treaty of Paris, 1783?
All that now leads us to a discussion of the word nation.
Is it just me, or does anyone else see the obvious similarity between the word nation and the word national? If we are a nation, with a national form of government, then the component parts are but mere delineations on a map but having no significance when it comes to deciding who, or what, has absolute sovereignty.
To make that point clearer, I live in Yuba County in the State of California. Am I a Yubian; does Yuba Country retain sovereignty over the State government? In answer to both, no. I am a citizen of the State of California with the government in Sacramento having the authority to enact laws which I must obey; that is if the laws are in accordance with the powers granted the State government by our State Constitution.
If you think of it in those terms, then in a national form of government we have but one nation, with each State being nothing but a large county with all power and authority wielded by the central government in Washington D.C.
But what is a nation?
Nation comes from the old French word nacion, which means birth, rank; descendants, relatives; country, homeland. However it implies much more. A nation traditionally was thought of as people of the same bloodline, heritage and race; or a people with common ancestry.
Using that definition as a guideline we could be either a single nation under one system of government, or we could be 50 independent, sovereign nations joined in a Confederation with a system of government to manage the interaction between the component parts and provide for the common defense of all; in short, either a national or a federal system.
As our system of government is only held in check by how well the people demand that those who represent them adhere to the limits upon the power granted government by the Constitution, whether we have a national or federal form of government is entirely up to us.
But I would like to touch on the definition of the word nation a bit more. Using the definition provided, in Federalist 2, John Jay describes a nation when he says, “With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people–a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.” (My emphasis)
Is that America today, a nation comprised of people all with a common language, customs, and background? Or have we, due to the politically correct concept of multiculturalism, become a fragmented society with these little conclaves of people who are, in reality, satellites of their native lands; each with their own customs and languages? How can we call ourselves the United States of America when we allow ourselves to be so fragmented without any commonalities binding us together?
Yet to speak of such things causes one to be labeled racist or xenophobic. Is it racist or xenophobic to ask that those who come to this country obey the laws of this country, or place its welfare above that of their native land? If you ask me, that is the definition for patriotism, and anyone who argues against it is, in fact, the one who is unpatriotic.
I do not want to make this about immigration, but it is important to realize that it is quite possible that our Founders wanted this country to be comprised of people who shared the same beliefs and views on life, and that to allow too many others from lands who shared different beliefs would lead to the undermining of the values they sought to preserve.
For instance, why would the government, in 1790, pass a naturalization law allowing only free white men of good character who had lived within the United States could become citizens? By 1798 that two year period had gone up to 14 years.
Over the course of our countries history many laws have been passed amending the naturalization process. Chinese were, at one time, banned from entering the U.S. when, after the completion of the transcontinental railway there was an increase in unemployed Chinese laborers. At one point in 1907 if a female U.S. citizen married a foreigner she lost her citizenship and assumed the citizenship of her husband.
Another thing, did you know that prior to 1868 there was no such thing as a citizen of the United States? Up until then the people living here were considered as citizens of the State they resided in, and nothing else. U.S. citizenship was a creation of the illegally ratified 14th Amendment; granting citizenship to the recently freed slaves citizenship: along with equal protection under the law. It did not apply to whites already living here in the United States.
In Black’s Legal Dictionary (6th Edition), it says the following regarding the 14th Amendment, “The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, ratified in 1868, creates or at least recognizes for the first time a citizenship of the United States, as distinct from that of the States…”
In Van Valkenburg v. Brown, the Court ruled, “No white person born within the limits of the United States and subject to their jurisdiction…owes his status of Citizenship to the recent amendments to the Federal Constitution…”
In the 1875 case of United Stats v. Cruikshank, the Court ruled, “We have in our political system a government of the United States and a government of each of the several States. Each one of these governments is distinct from the others, and each has citizens of its own.”
The misguided belief that each of us is a U.S. citizen, and not a citizen of the State wherein we live, is just another in a long list of actions that have taken us from a federal form of government in which the States retained their sovereignty, to a national form of government where the States, and the people living within them, have all but been swallowed up into a national form of government; “…one nation under God.”
That is one of the reasons I refuse to recite the Pledge of Allegiance any more, as I refuse to pledge allegiance to the idea that we are a single nation rather than 50 independent nations; each with citizens and systems of government of their own.
In either case, the interest of the whole should be towards the best interest of the whole. How can that be when, due to our immigration policy and our belief in multiculturalism, we have fragmented society into distinct subcultures; each with customs, languages and beliefs of their own?
In 1917 Theodore Roosevelt said, “From the melting pot of life in this free land all men and woman of all nations who come hither emerge as Americans and nothing else. They must have renounced completely and without reserve all allegiance to the land from which they or their forefathers came. And it is a binding duty on every citizen of this country in every important crisis to act solidly with all his fellow Americans, having regard only to the honor and interest of America, treating every other nation purely on its conduct in that crisis, without reference to his ancestral predilections or antipathies. If he does not act, he is false to the teachings and lives of Washington and Lincoln; he is not entitled to any part or lot in our country and he should be sent out of it.”
Seeing the way people reacted to the things Trump has said regarding the emigration of Muslims into America, I can only imagine how people would react would a sitting, or former president make a statement like the one Roosevelt did.
Our first system of government was a confederation, in which the States pledged to “…enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretense whatever.”
From the moment James Madison broached his idea of tossing the Articles of Confederation by the wayside, and creating an entirely new system of government, our country has been on a slow, but steady course; changing us from a federal form of government into a national form.
The Civil War, or the Second War for Independence, was the last gasp of State’s rights and State sovereignty. With the loss of that war by the Confederacy it has been a rapid descent into nationalism and the corresponding loss of liberty for all.
One may think that a national form of government is not bad; especially when it provides all these wonderful benefits for us. But then one has to consider that National Socialism was also a national form of government; and look what happened to the people living in Nazi Germany; they lost all their freedom and were subject to the will of a tyrant.
We are on that path right now, and it seems that just a handful out of the 300+ million people living in this country can see it. That is because we are not, as Madison said, armed with the power that knowledge gives.
One other point and I’ll wrap this all up. Have you ever stopped to consider that the Constitution itself could be illegal? Bet that opened your eyes a bit! But the truth of the matter is that it was created and ratified illegally.
At the time it was written the Articles of Confederation were the existing law which governed government in America. Article 13 of these Articles of Confederation states, “And the Articles of this Confederation shall be inviolably observed by every State, and the Union shall be perpetual; nor shall any alteration at any time hereafter be made in any of them; unless such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State.”
When the delegates assembled in Philadelphia in 1787 many were under the belief that they had come to produce amendments to the Articles of Confederation which the States would then vote upon. Madison had, before the convention even met, sent letters saying he proposed to create a radically different system of government; one with much greater powers.
The moment Madison broached the subject in the Philadelphia convention he overstepped the authority granted him by the Commonwealth of Virginia. By continuing to listen, participate even, in drafting a Constitution, the delegates all overstepped the authority granted them by their respective States. Only John Lansing and Robert Yates of New York spoke out against what was going on in Philadelphia; leaving the convention in protest of the activities taking place within.
Madison did what he did because of Article 13 of the Articles of Confederation and its requirement that EVERY State accept a law passed by Congress before it went into effect. The rejection by one State meant that laws passed by Congress would not go into effect. How many laws can you think of that would not have gone into effect had that still been in effect? Obamacare for instance, if just one State had voted against it; it would not have gone into effect. The Patriot Act, comprehensive immigration reform; any of these laws would have to be accepted by all 50 States before they could go into effect. That was a MAJOR stumbling block for Madison’s grand design for a strong central government.
This brings us back almost full circle to the question of whether we have a national or federal system of government. When Patrick Henry argued against the proposed Constitution he asked the Virginia Assembly to consider the following, “Have they said, we, the States? Have they made a proposal of a compact between states? If they had, this would be a confederation: It is otherwise most clearly a consolidated government. The question turns, Sir, on that poor little thing-the expression, We, the people, instead of the States, of America.”
In either case government derives its authority because the people consent to its existence. It is not perpetual and the consent can be, unanimously, or individually withdrawn at any time by either a single state, or a group of them. The government created by this consent does not have a say in this any less that the light bulb has a say when you flip the switch to turn it off. If the people withdraw their consent for government’s existence, then government simply vanishes; unless of course it is tyrannical; then it will fight to ensure its survival.
It happened once before; the only problem is that the wrong side won the war that came about, (not because the government wanted to free the slaves), but when the government created by the constitution demanded that a portion of the country which wanted to withdraw from the union, stay in that union. It not only demanded, it invaded them with an army to force obedience. We call it the Civil War, but I call it the Second War for Independence. But that’s another area of our history where the people are pitifully ignorant.
Anyway, that about wraps things up. I know I have given you a lot of information to digest, and many of you may not care. My job here is not to convince you one way or the other, only to share the knowledge that I come across on my journey to find the truth. It’s up to you to read what I write, to verify what I have said, and then form your own conclusions. Or, of course, you can toss it in the trash and go back to your TV’s and iPhones. I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t care either way; it is the process of writing that I care about; just crafting the most readable and information filled articles I can. Whether or not you read and learn from them is your decision, your problem.
Just realize this, if you do not learn from the things I write, then you certainly are not an informed citizenry. Therefore you are easy targets for the aspirations of evil men and tyrants. As long as you keep voting for the lesser of two evils because a little evil is preferable to a bigger one, then nothing will change; it will only continue to get worse; it’s just a matter of how much worse, and how fast it happens.
That’s about all I have to say for no so I’ll return you to your regularly scheduled program