We Should Have Listened to the Anti-Federalists

“Mental slavery is the worst form of slavery. It gives you
the illusion of freedom, makes you love, trust and defend your oppressor
while making an enemy of those who are trying to free you.”
~Anonymous Quote~

You can’t tune in to the news these days without hearing about some sort of scandal or crisis involving our government. It seems we’re always facing some new threat, or one of the two political parties is attempting to discredit the other or block some piece of legislation. Politics is big news and it gives the talking heads and pundits the perfect stage where they can show to the world why they get paid the big bucks by the networks.

In all seriousness though, politics has always been something people talked about, and something that kept people divided – at least as far back as around 1765 that is. You see, 1765 is when jolly ole King George III decided to impose a tax upon his American Colonies; which set the ball in motion for the American Revolution.

They didn’t have TV’s, or radios back then, so there weren’t any high paid pundits and news broadcasters telling us what to think, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t plenty of fodder to feed the minds of those interested in such things; pamphlets, flyers and newspaper editorials abounded, with the author of each expounding their thoughts on whatever the current crisis was. Oh, and there was divisiveness as well with some of the Colonists aligning themselves with their government while others opposed whatever it was that King George was doing.

So you see, the only thing that has really changed is the medium by which people got their news, and possibly the fact that instead of the news being scripted by networks to fit a particular bias, it was the individual thoughts of the authors of whatever pamphlet or flyer you were reading. But politics was just as much a part of the daily news back then as it is now.

So it should come as no surprise that, when the constitution was introduced to the people for the first time in 1787, the subject of establishing an entirely new system of government for the country was the subject of much discussion, and division as well. It is kind of funny that those who supported ratification of the proposed constitution and those who opposed it did agree, at least on paper anyways, on one thing; that the constitution be given a thorough and comprehensive examination before the people decided whether to adopt or reject it.

In Federalist 2, Publius writes, “WHEN the people of America reflect that they are now called upon to decide a question, which, in its consequences, must prove one of the most important that ever engaged their attention, the propriety of their taking a very comprehensive, as well as a very serious, view of it, will be evident.”

Then there is this, from the prominent anti-Federalist Brutus, “When the public is called to investigate and decide upon a question in which not only the present members of the community are deeply interested, but upon which the happiness and misery of generations yet unborn is in great measure suspended, the benevolent mind cannot help feeling itself peculiarly interested in the result.”

However, right from the get-go the Federalists proved that they were somewhat hypocritical. On paper Publius said that the decision to adopt or reject the proposed plan for government should be given a comprehensive examination. So why were they in such a bloody hurry to get the constitution ratified so that their plan for an American system of government could go into effect? Why, also, were they so steadfast in their position of take it or leave it as it is?

You see, the constitution was written by somewhere around 55 men; most of whom were either politicians or lawyers. Ben Franklin hinted at the fact that there may be flaws within it, so why were they so vehemently opposed to any alterations to it which might improve it; better secure the sovereignty of the States and the liberty of the people who were to live under their proposed system of government. The way they pushed the constitution through the State Ratifying Assemblies almost reminds me of the infamous quote made by Nancy Pelosi, “We have to pass the bill so that we can see what’s in it.”

Yet in his first essay opposing the constitution, The Federal Farmer states, “If we remain cool and temperate, we are in no immediate danger of any commotions; we are in a state of perfect peace, and in no danger of invasions; the state governments are in the full exercise of their powers; and our governments answer all present exigencies, except the regulation of trade, securing credit, in some cases, and providing for the interest, in some instances, of the public debts; and whether we adopt a change, three or nine months hence, can make but little odds with the private circumstances of individuals; their happiness and prosperity, after all, depend principally upon their own exertions.”

So again, why were they in such a hurry to get the constitution ratified – unless of course they didn’t want a careful examination of it; one which would expose its flaws and true intent?

Going back to the first essay by Brutus, we find a warning to those who would be tasked with choosing whether to adopt or reject this proposed system of government, “If the constitution, offered to your acceptance, be a wise one, calculated to preserve the invaluable blessings of liberty, to secure the inestimable rights of mankind, and promote human happiness, then, if you accept it, you will lay a lasting foundation of happiness for millions yet unborn; generations to come will rise up and call you blessed. … But if, on the other hand, this form of government contains principles that will lead to the subversion of liberty — if it tends to establish a despotism, or, what is worse, a tyrannic aristocracy; then, if you adopt it, this only remaining assylum for liberty will be shut up, and posterity will execrate your memory.”

Those are some pretty serious words for those who would be tasked to either adopt or reject this newly proposed system of government; be blessed forever by posterity, or have your names be something people loath for the poor choice they made. It reminds me of something Samuel Adams said a decade and a half earlier, “The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men.”

There is something about those two quotes that you may have missed, so let me point it out for you; both declare that if the people allow liberty to be taken from them by their actions then history will forever condemn them and their actions. The question is, has history condemned them for adopting the constitution, or are they praised for establishing the best form of government the world has ever seen?

I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but if I were in the position of having to decide whether or not to adopt an entirely new system of government for my country I would have to first ask myself what purpose that government is supposed to serve. Just listening to people talk these days, from their partisan positions, I can almost hear the answers they would provide for that question – create jobs, boost the economy, keep us safe from terrorism, provide more benefits for the needy, etc. etc. But for me, I would have to answer as did Patrick Henry, “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.”

You may not believe it, but liberty is why we fought the first War for Independence. But all one has to do is remember Patrick Henry’s immortal words to prove that I’m correct in my belief, “Give me LIBERTY or give me death.” (My emphasis)

Therefore, any system of government they established after the Revolution should be designed to better secure the liberty they had recently won for themselves. After all, isn’t that what Jefferson said the purpose for which governments are instituted among men are supposed to serve, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…” (Declaration of Independence)

In his first essay, Brutus explains in succinct detail the unlimited power which would be given the government should the constitution be adopted, “It has authority to make laws which will affect the lives, the liberty, and property of every man in the United States; nor can the constitution or laws of any state, in any way prevent or impede the full and complete execution of every power given. The legislative power is competent to lay taxes, duties, imposts, and excises; — there is no limitation to this power, unless it be said that the clause which directs the use to which those taxes, and duties shall be applied, may be said to be a limitation: but this is no restriction of the power at all, for by this clause they are to be applied to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States; but the legislature have authority to contract debts at their discretion; they are the sole judges of what is necessary to provide for the common defence, and they only are to determine what is for the general welfare; this power therefore is neither more nor less, than a power to lay and collect taxes, imposts, and excises, at their pleasure; not only [is] the power to lay taxes unlimited, as to the amount they may require, but it is perfect and absolute to raise them in any mode they please.”

Can you not see that those words describe our government today…to a T?

And then there is this, from Patrick Henry’s speech to the Virginia Ratifying Assembly, June 7, 1788, “The Federal Sheriff may commit what oppression, make what distresses he pleases, and ruin you with impunity: For how are you to tie his hands? Have you any sufficiently decided means of preventing him from sucking your blood by speculations, commissions and fees?”

A Federal Sheriff, to use Henry’s words, would be anyone vested with the power of enforcing federal law upon the people or the States. Using that as a guideline, what would you call all the governmental agencies who have the authority to write and enforce the laws people must obey? I could run a litany of agencies with such powers, but to keep it short I’ll just name a few: the DEA, the BATF, the EPA, and the Department of Agriculture…just to name a few.

That sounds strikingly similar to what Jefferson said in the Declaration of Independence, “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.” And, as Mr. Henry said, what means do we have of preventing these agencies from sucking our blood by speculations, commissions and fees?

As Patrick Henry also said, “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? This, Sir, is my great objection to the Constitution, that there is no true responsibility — and that the preservation of our liberty depends on the single chance of men being virtuous enough to make laws to punish themselves.”

Can you punish your elected representative if he/she violates the constitution or infringes upon your rights? How; vote them out of office? That’s not punishment. If you have an employee that steals from you, you can fire them, but you also have the right to press charges and take them to court where, (hopefully), justice will be served. Where is that power within the constitution for us to PUNISH those who violate it? I’ll tell you where…NOWHERE!!!

Those who drafted the constitution were not stupid men, not by any means. They knew exactly what they were doing; that is why they so vehemently opposed the introduction of amendments to alter their creation, and only begrudgingly gave in once they realized the constitution might not be ratified if they did not allow the States to make suggestions for amendments to it.

But who was responsible for weeding through the long list of proposed amendments if not James Madison; the so-called Father of the constitution? Do you honestly believe he would introduce amendments that would weaken the government he had just helped create? That is why he purposefully omitted the word EXPRESSLY from every suggestion that eventually became the 10th Amendment; he could not allow his newly created government’s hands to be tied so strictly by that single word.

One of the primary functions of the constitution was to eventually eradicate, or weaken so drastically as to make the State Legislatures mere appendages to the central authority of the federal government. Again, quoting from Brutus, “How far the clause in the 8th section of the 1st article may operate to do away all idea of confederated states, and to effect an entire consolidation of the whole into one general government, it is impossible to say. The powers given by this article are very general and comprehensive, and it may receive a construction to justify the passing almost any law. A power to make all laws, which shall be necessary and proper, for carrying into execution, all powers vested by the constitution in the government of the United States, or any department or officer thereof, is a power very comprehensive and definite [indefinite?], and may, for ought I know, be exercised in a such manner as entirely to abolish the state legislatures.”

Explain to me, if you can, what means the States have of limiting or restricting the federal authority within their borders. They no longer have any voice through the election of Senators, so how are they to stand up to the mighty US government? They have become as neutered as we the people have become.

But it did not begin this way, and had those who adopted the constitution known it would end up this way they would never have agreed to this system of government. Subterfuge and deceit were used, along with a healthy dose of fear as to what would happen to the Union if they chose not to agree to this plan for a system of government. Yet Patrick Henry warned of the impulsive reaction to fear, calling it the passion of slaves.

The constitution was cleverly written to have both federal and national features; in just the right balance to ensure that those who supported State sovereignty would eventually accept the proposed plan. In his finest legalize, James Madison walked a tightrope explaining the federal and the national features of this government in Federalist 39, “The house of representatives will derive its powers from the people of America, and the people will be represented in the same proportion, and on the same principle, as they are in the Legislature of a particular State. So far the Government is national not federal. The Senate on the other hand will derive its powers from the States, as political and co-equal societies; and these will be represented on the principle of equality in the Senate, as they now are in the existing Congress. So far the government is federal, not national. The executive power will be derived from a very compound source. The immediate election of the President is to be made by the States in their political characters. The votes allotted to them, are in a compound ratio, which considers them partly as distinct and co-equal societies; partly as unequal members of the same society. The eventual election, again is to be made by that branch of the Legislature which consists of the national representatives; but in this particular act, they are to be thrown into the form of individual delegations from so many distinct and co-equal bodies politic. From this aspect of the Government, it appears to be of a mixed character presenting at least as many federal as national features.”

Had he came right out and said it was a national form of government he would have doomed it to rejection; so he tiptoed around the fact that once the doorway to a fully national form of government was opened, combined with weak restraints against federal encroachment upon State authority, the end result was predictable – an end to State authority and a fully consolidated national government.

Even with the end result all but assured, had the government created by the constitution suddenly began attacking State sovereignty and the rights of the people there would have been a violent revolution overthrowing it. So they nibbled away at the rights of the people and the States; a bit here and a bit there, in increments that often went without notice; and often benefitted the States and the people by creating jobs or providing benefits and subsidies.

But their crowning achievement came when they gained control of our educational system. Once they had the ability to decide what we were taught about why governments should exist, and what powers they were given, it was game over. The overall ignorance and apathy of most Americans these days is not the fault of people so much as it is the end result of their having been indoctrinated by government run schools. Most people don’t know that their government enslaves them because they have been taught that their government is doing exactly what it was designed to do; they simply don’t know any better.

It is only because there is a flaw in the wiring in people like me that we question everything; we are born rebellious and don’t take anything at face value. That is what drives us to pursue the truth, and it is what frustrates us when we can’t get others to see the truth that is right in front of their eyes; the fact that their government, from day one, was established to destroy the liberty our ancestors fought for in the Revolution.

Nonetheless, liberty is too valuable a gift to give up on it simply because people don’t know what it is or care that it is being taken from them at an exponentially increasing rate. And this is where I will end this with a final quote from Patrick Henry, a plea actually, which sums up the mindset of those of us you call radicals and extremists, “If our descendants be worthy the name of Americans, they will preserve, and hand down to their latest posterity, the transactions of the present times; and though, I confess, my exclamations are not worthy of hearing, they will see that I have done my utmost to preserve their liberty.”

I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming…

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One Response to We Should Have Listened to the Anti-Federalists

  1. Nicholas delGiudice says:

    So excited to learn from you and find another Truth seeker and teller.

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