I have a trivia question for y’all. Out of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, which subject is addressed most often in them? The answer may shock you, but it’s the right of suffrage, or who shall be allowed to vote. That right is covered by 4 constitutional amendments, the 15th, 19th, 24th and the 26th. Yet if you were to read the Constitution itself, without any of the amendments, there is no reference as to who shall be allowed to vote.
The right of suffrage is an interesting subject as it brings up many questions in and of itself. The first question we should address is; why does one vote? Let’s put aside any political agenda people may have and get to the basic reason why people believe they should be allowed to vote; that being to choose those who will represent them in a system of government.
In a roundabout way this brings up the question of what kind of government did they institute in 1789, a national one or a federal one; or possibly a combination of both. If I were to ask you your nationality, how would you respond? Most, I’m sure, would say Americans, or United States citizens. Therefore, when you vote you are casting that vote in that capacity; with that frame of mind. Gone is the idea that your state is your country; America has become the country most people claim allegiance to.
The scope of powers held by a national government is far broader than those of a federal government, as it encompasses the entire nation; going beyond state borders to apply directly to every citizen. A federal government, on the other hand, has far fewer powers, with much of the power being retained by the component parts of the federation.
That is the type of government that existed under the Articles of Confederation; prior to the drafting and ratification of the Constitution. Under this system the States held more authority than the central government, and each measure proposed by the Congress had to get the unanimous approval of all 13 States before it could become binding upon any of them. Each State got one vote in Congress; making them all equal partners in the union; preventing one large state, or group of smaller states, from being allowed to join together to the oppression of other states. Furthermore, the representatives in Congress could be recalled by their respective states, at any time, if they failed to adequately represent the will of the people living in those states.
The establishment of a bicameral Congress by the constitution; meaning two legislative houses, altered that; raising the question of whether we were to be governed by a federal system or a national one.
When the constitution was being debated by the states those in support of it felt the need to write a series of essays countering the accusations that the drafters had sought to increase the power of government too much; consolidate the States; and a whole range of other complaints. I response to the question of consolidation, and the extent of the proposed government’s power, James Madison promised; let me repeat that, PROMISED, “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.”
This question is/was of such great importance that it led to what became the 10th amendment; for all the good it has done from preventing government from overreaching its specifically delegated powers. The 10th Amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
Now that may sound pretty clear cut, but there is a loophole in that amendment big enough to drive a tank through; that being the omission of the word expressly prior to the word delegated. Had that been included, and it was in the proposal but Madison edited it out because it would have limited the power of his new creation by far too much; but had that been in there the loophole I spoke of could have been closed tightly. That loophole is called construction; or what Alexander Hamilton called; implied powers.
The number of laws that have been passed which fall under heading of what is considered ‘commerce’, the ‘general welfare’, or ‘necessary and proper’ is astronomical; all because the government has decided that these things serve the general welfare, or are necessary and proper. In short, they are interpreting the constitution for themselves to grant themselves more power.
In 1798, in opposition to the Alien and Sedition Acts signed into law by President John Adams, Thomas Jefferson secretly wrote a set of resolutions for the state of Kentucky and urged James Madison to do the same for the state of Virginia. These resolutions decried the overreach of power, with Jefferson’s draft reading, “…that the government created by this compact [the Constitution for the United States] was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; . . . . that this would be to surrender the form of government we have chosen, and live under one deriving its powers from its own will, and not from our authority…”
How does all that tie into voting? Well if we have a national government, then it represents the people, and the people are the masters who decide what powers the government shall be allowed to exercise on their behalf. But since we have a bicameral Congress, the states were also given a say in what should become law. Of course that was done away with when the 17th amendment was questionably ratified. After that fraud, the election of Senators was by the people, taking the states out of the operation of the federal government entirely; and if you ask me, made us a wholly national government, with all vestiges of federalism fading into history.
So, the people were to now elect lawmakers to both houses of Congress; which brings us right back to the subject of voting. As I have previously stated, the constitution makes no reference as to who shall be allowed to vote. The reasoning was that it was the state’s responsibility/authority to decide who within their borders shall be allowed to vote.
Most states only granted that right to white property owning, or tax-paying citizens. Now in today’s more enlightened world, that may seem wrong; but it has its benefits; as well as its pitfalls. Does it not make a certain amount of sense that those who pay for government should get to decide those who make the laws that government enacts? But this question begs another question; are those who vote voting for the overall public good, for the preservation of the rights and liberty of all the people, or are they voting to elect those who will pass laws that benefit them?
In 1850 Frederic Bastiat addressed this subject in his book The Law. In it Bastiat states, “In fact, if law were restricted to protecting all persons, all liberties, and all properties; if law were nothing more than the organized combination of the individual’s right to self defense; if law were the obstacle, the check, the punisher of all oppression and plunder—is it likely that we citizens would then argue much about the extent of the franchise?” And that brings us right back around to the flaw in the 10th Amendment that does not limit the power of government to those powers ‘expressly’ delegated to it.
So in reality, what we have become is the charade of an elective democracy; where the majority gets to control the direction that government takes. I say charade because that’s what it is. These people campaign for your votes, making all kinds of promises to do things based upon the platforms of the two political parties.
However, very few of those promises, if any, deal with securing the rights and liberty of those who voted for them; and once they are elected they rarely keep their promises.
We are taught that the constitution has all these wonderful checks and balances to keep each branch from overstepping its authority, while protecting our rights and liberty. Patrick Henry declared those checks and balances to be, “specious, imaginary balances, your rope-dancing, chain-rattling, ridiculous ideal checks and balances.” They may be written there on paper, but as those who we elect get to decide what their powers are, those checks are meaningless without any ability on our part to enforce them; to punish breaches of them.
Patrick Henry railed against this deficiency; the inability of the people to punish those in government if it violated their rights or liberty, “But in this, there is no real actual punishment for the grossest maladministration. They may go without punishment, though they commit the most outrageous violation on our immunities. That paper may tell me they will be punished. I ask, by what law? They must make the law — for there is no existing law to do it. What — will they make a law to punish themselves?”
Tell me, how can you punish anyone holding office if they vote in favor of a law that deprives you of any of your rights? You can vote them out of office; if there are enough people who dislike what they have done. However, with well over an 80%, closer to 90% I believe, re-election rate for Congress, I certainly don’t see much voting out of office going on. And voting out of office is not punishing; not when you compare what happens to you if you violate the laws they pass. After all, they have a standing army, (federal and local law enforcement), to make sure you obey the law; what do you have against them?
Patrick Henry railed against that as well, “A standing army we shall have also, to execute the execrable commands of tyranny: And how are you to punish them? Will you order them to be punished? Who shall obey these orders? Will your Mace-bearer be a match for a disciplined regiment?” How are you to stand up to the National Guard, with all their military hardware, or local law enforcement with their militarized SWAT teams, when all you have are single shot and semi automatic pistols and rifles? Besides, it takes a thorough knowledge of what your rights are, and the courage to defend them, for even the best equipped militia to be of any use; both of which are sorely lacking amongst most of the people these days. Don’t believe me, just look at how many obey these ridiculous mask mandates.
It may seem like I keep drifting away from the subject of voting, but it all ties in together. From its very inception this government has been one in which the power delegated to it, with numerous loopholes thrown in for good measure, has been one which was designed to give it the power of coercion over those it governed; the people. A good government, one designed to secure the rights and liberty of all people under its authority, would not require the power to use force, or penalties; the people would obey the laws willingly; unless of course they sought to use the system as a tool to enrich themselves and oppress others.
Most of those who wrote the constitution, and later supported its ratification, were of the upper class of society; the elite you might call them; they were lawyers, bankers and business men. It would go a long way towards explaining the coup of 1787 if one undertook a serious study of the writings and business dealings of the primary figures involved in the drafting of the constitution; you may have your eyes opened if you do.
Take for instance on Robert Morris. Morris was the man to go to during the Revolution when it came to procuring arms and supplies for the Continental Army. He was also, what you might call, the treasurer during that period. During the Revolution Morris secured a loan to the U.S., which he then deposited in his bank. Some of that money was loaned out to his friends, on the promise that they use it to buy stocks in his bank.
One of the Anti-Federalists opposing the constitution, Centinel, wrote the following about Morris in his 23rd essay, “When we consider the immense sums of public money taken up by Mr. Morris, as commercial agent, to import military supplies, and even to trade on behalf of the United States, at a time when the risk was so great that individuals would not venture their property; that all these transactions were conducted under the private firm of Willing and Morris, which afforded unrestrained scope to peculation and embezzlement of the public property, by enabling Mr. Morris to throw the loss of all captures by the enemy at that hazardous period on the public, and converting most of the safe arrivals, (which were consequently very valuable) into his private property; and when we add to these considerations, the principles of the man, his bankrupt situation at the commencement of the war, and the immense wealth he has dazzled the world with since, can it be thought unreasonable to conclude that the principal source of his wealth was the commercial agency of the United States during the war?”
These were the nature of the scoundrels who wrote your precious constitution; with all its imaginary checks and balances, and protections for your rights. They didn’t care about your rights, had they cared they would have included a bill of rights in the document when delivering it to the states for consideration. It was only when their precious plan met resistance that they acquiesced and said they would produce one if the constitution were just ratified first. All they cared about was getting the framework in place; and when the time came to fulfill their promise they butchered the amendments sent to them by the states.
You are a tax slave, and for the entire history of this system of government it has been a history of increased power, with the increased need for revenue to fund its operations; with a few examples to the contrary; such as Jefferson’s first term in office, and possibly when Andrew Jackson fought against the central banking establishment. Heck, the first serious threat to the power of government came in response to taxes; specifically a tax on distilled liquor…whiskey; which saw the President Washington march an armed militia into Pennsylvania. There is that coercive power I mentioned earlier.
You see, for government to be able to expand its powers it had to convince the people that there was a need for such expansions of power; a crisis or emergency of some sorts. One of the things they had to overcome is people’s desire to have a limited government; one that would simply leave them alone to live their lives. Yet even as early as 1788 there were signs that people were forgetting the cause which they had so recently fought for; with talk of a great American empire with a government which would benefit and boost economic growth.
Again, Patrick Henry tried to remind people of the purpose for which governments are instituted among men, “You are not to inquire how your trade may be increased, nor how you are to become a great and powerful people, but how your liberties can be secured; for liberty ought to be the direct end of your Government.”
Then, in a somewhat sarcastic tone, he bemoaned how people had already forgotten about that principle, “Perhaps an invincible attachment to the dearest rights of man, may, in these refined, enlightened days, be deemed old fashioned: If so, I am contented to be so: I say, the time has been when every pore of my heart beat for American liberty, and which, I believe, had a counterpart in the breast of every true American.”
A Scottish judge by the name of Andrew Fraser Tytler once wrote, “Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage.” The first four steps of that took place with the American Revolution and subsequent independence. The next step began almost immediately afterwards, and it is to that change, forsaking the cause of liberty, that Patrick Henry bemoaned.
Once the constitution had been ratified, and implemented, the people sought to elect those who could bring about economic prosperity; or create jobs. Sound familiar all you Trump supporters? Prior to becoming the 20th President of the United States, James Garfield wrote the following in a letter to B. A. Hindsale, “It is not part of the functions of the national government to find employment for people — and if we were to appropriate a hundred millions for this purpose, we should be taxing forty millions of people to keep a few thousand employed.”
And let me play devil’s advocate and pretend that it is the responsibility of the government to create employment for the people, why then is government telling small business owners that they must operate at reduced capacity, or shut down entirely, all in response of this Covid crisis? Has that not created massive unemployment; not to mention businesses going under, never to be reopened? If the government is supposed to create jobs, then the mandates it is trying to impose upon us for Covid go against governments intended purposes.
You can’t have it both ways people; either government has no business creating jobs, or it has no authority to take steps that puts people out of work. But this brings us back to voting, because most people care more about comfort and security than they do their rights and liberty; and the more people they can get voting, the better chance they have of passing measures based upon the promise of delivering one or the other.
So the federal government, after the Civil War, breached the boundaries separating their powers and the powers of the states by proposing the 15th; which gave the newly freed blacks the right to vote. That should have been up to the states, as they’d already had restrictions upon other classes of people; such as women. But they got their feet in the door with the 15th Amendment, on the basis that it was a Civil Rights amendment designed to give the right of suffrage to former slaves.
Then the 19th Amendment was ratified; giving women the right to vote. Then the 24th Amendment was ratified; prohibiting a person’s right to vote from being denied for failure to pay a poll tax. Then finally the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age to 18. This particular amendment was driven by the fact that young men were being drafted into the military to fight in the Vietnam conflict, yet they were not allowed to vote due to age restrictions. Funny, they didn’t lower the drinking age to 18 either. After all, if you’re old enough to go off and fight or die for your country, you ought to be old enough to have a beer too.
Now almost everyone over the age of 18 can vote in this country; which brings me to my final point – ignorance and apathy. James Madison once wrote, “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives. A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy or perhaps both.”
How much knowledge would you say the average voter, or you yourself, have regarding the specifics of what the constitution says, how it came into existence, and the overall history of your country? Would you allow someone who has never read a medical book to crack you open and tinker around inside with your internal organs? Why then would you allow someone to if they do not understand how their system of government is supposed to function, and the limits placed upon its power?
Author Robert Heinlein described what happens when you give the right of suffrage to all the people, “A perfect democracy, a ‘warm body’ democracy in which every adult may vote and all votes count equally, has no internal feedback for self-correction. It depends solely on the wisdom and self-restraint of citizens… which is opposed by the folly and lack of self-restraint of other citizens. What is supposed to happen in a democracy is that each sovereign citizen will always vote in the public interest for the safety and welfare of all. But what does happen is that he votes his own self-interest as he sees it… which for the majority translates as ‘Bread and Circuses.’
‘Bread and Circuses’ is the cancer of democracy, the fatal disease for which there is no cure. Democracy often works beautifully at first. But once a state extends the franchise to every warm body, be he producer or parasite, that day marks the beginning of the end of the state. For when the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader—the barbarians enter Rome.”
Lysander Spooner looked at the whole process of voting from an entirely different perspective, ” it is to be considered that, without his consent having even been asked a man finds himself environed by a government that he cannot resist; a government that forces him to pay money, render service, and forego the exercise of many of his natural rights, under peril of weighty punishments. He sees, too, that other men practise this tyranny over him by the use of the ballot. He sees further, that, if he will but use the ballot himself, he has some chance of relieving himself from this tyranny of others, by subjecting them to his own. In short, he finds himself, without his consent, so situated that, if he use the ballot, he may become a master; if he does not use it, he must become a slave. And he has no other alternative than these two.”
Let me again repeat a quote I provided earlier, from Bastiat’s book The Law, “In fact, if law were restricted to protecting all persons, all liberties, and all properties; if law were nothing more than the organized combination of the individual’s right to self defense; if law were the obstacle, the check, the punisher of all oppression and plunder—is it likely that we citizens would then argue much about the extent of the franchise?”
Does it not seem that if that’s all government did, secure to us the rights of life, liberty and property, and the right to defend them, then there would be no arguing over who ran government; no political parties? But since neither party does that, there is always going to be conflict between the opposing ideologies; while our rights and liberty circle the toilet.
In 1788 the man who is famous for establishing the first American Dictionary, Noah Webster, wrote, “But every child in America should be acquainted with his own country. He should read books that furnish him with ideas that will be useful to him in life and practice. As soon as he opens his lips, he should rehearse the history of his own country; he should lisp the praise of liberty, and of those illustrious heroes and statesmen, who have wrought a revolution in her favor.
A selection of essays, respecting the settlement and geography of America; the history of the late revolution and of the most remarkable characters and events that distinguished it, and a compendium of the principles of the federal and provincial governments, should be the principal school book in the United States. These are interesting objects to every man; they call home the minds of youth and fix them upon the interests of their own country, and they assist in forming attachments to it, as well as in enlarging the understanding.”
How many of you can say that? How many of you can name more than one individual who attended the convention which drafted the constitution? How many of you can list the names of 5 prominent men who argued against the ratification of the constitution? How many of you can list all 10 amendments to the Bill of Rights; describing which rights they supposedly guarantee against government interference?
If you can’t do any of those things, how can you call yourself informed? I may not be the most educated person in this country; but in comparison to most people I’m a frickin’ genius! Yet if I were to tell you that you could not vote until you could recite the constitution to me; backwards and forwards, how would you react?
And that right there, (sorry to say it), is why we’ll never fix this country; we have a bunch of brain dead voters voting for their choice of criminals/masters; with no regard for their individual rights and liberty. As long as that remains true government will continue to trample all over your freedom; tossing you bread crumbs of assistance; comfort and security, as it goes.
If you want to fix this country you’re going to have to give up the government handouts and start craving freedom again; crave it enough that you’ll risk your life to get it back from those who have stolen it from you. And, from one look at how many mindless drones I see wearing their face masks in response to a virus that has a 99% survival rate, that ain’t happening anytime soon.
So enjoy today while you can, tomorrow will be worse, the day after that, and the day after that; until you wake up in chains and wonder what the fuck happened. But if you’re going to wake up, do so quickly. Remember that passage from Tytler, “from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage.” Well, were in the final stage now, dependence back into bondage. The clock’s a ticking, and lady liberty is wondering where all her defenders are.