“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
(Letter to W.T. Barry, August 4, 1822)
I can’t recall when I first heard this, but as a kid I frequently heard adults say that there are two subjects that should not be discussed at the supper table; religion and politics. The reason for that is because people have strong feelings on those subjects and any discussion of them always devolves into an argument; and to avoid ruining dinner it is best to not discuss them at the supper table.
For those of you thinking this is gonna be another religious rant all I want to do is show how religion and politics are quite similar in some instances, and radically different in others. Take religion for instance, it usually has some form of text that serves as the guidelines for its practitioners. In Christianity that text is the Bible and in Islam it is the Koran. So why do we see so many various denominations within them?
Take Christianity for example; its tenets are outline in the Bible, right? So why are there so many different denominations? I couldn’t even begin to name them all but there are Catholics, Protestants, Baptists, Lutherans, Seventh Day Adventists, just to name a few.
I’m not trying to single out Christians either; Islam is the same way with various interpretations of the Koran leading to divisions within it; such as the Sunni’s and the Shia’s. All I’m trying to point out is how a religious text such as the Koran or the Bible can be interpreted differently; leading to various divisions among those who read it.
Can the same not be said about our system of government as well? Our system of government exists because the Constitution was ratified in 1789. Had the Constitution not been ratified we would still be under the system established by the Articles of Confederation, right? So if this system of government is based upon what the Constitution says, why are there so many different political parties?
Although the Republicans and Democrats hold a majority of the offices in government, they are not the only parties that run candidates seeking office. For instance, there is the Peace and Freedom Party, the Green Party, the Tea Party, and the Libertarian Party, just to name a few. If the Constitution established this system of government the only explanation for the various political parties is how that document is interpreted. Keep that thought in mind while I discuss one huge difference between religion and politics.
Can you be fined, jailed, or shot for not going to church? What about if you don’t go to confession often enough, or pay your tithing, can your church send the police to arrest you? Not in America you can’t. In some Islamic countries you can; but that’s neither here nor there for the purpose of this discussion. In America we supposedly have freedom of religion; which means we are all free to either go to church or not go to church without fear of punishment.
You cannot say the same thing regarding politics; or more specifically, government. Whether you like it or not you must submit to the laws government enacts, or face fines, jail time, and even death. It amazes me that people will file suits against schools and other institutions to protect their freedom FROM religion, and the courts will typically uphold that right, yet try filing a suit to protect your freedom from government and see what happens. You’ll get laughed out of the courthouse, that’s what will happen!
I can’t speak for anyone else, but to me it is just common sense that if you are going to have an entity, (government), that has that kind of power over you, you had better damned sure know what purpose that government is supposed to serve; and what powers were given it to accomplish that purpose. Yet if you were to do a simple survey of your friends and relatives I bet you’d find that a good majority of them couldn’t tell you much about what the Constitution says.
There is another thing that people should take into consideration when thinking about their system of government, that being the motives behind those who established it. From what I recall of my high school civics class, all I remember being taught is that there was a convention in 1787 and that it produced a document that was submitted to the people for ratification; which they did. The rest of the class was devoted to explaining the structure of our government, the checks and balances, and the process of amending it; with a brief discussion of the Bill of Rights.
To say that I got the nickel tour of the Constitution is the understatement of the century; there is much more to it than that, and if you really want to know what purpose your government should serve you need to undertake a study of the process which led to the establishment of this system of government; what purpose this government is supposed to serve; and what powers were given it to accomplish that purpose.
I know it is hard to put aside your partisan ideology, it was for me, but to effectively understand what purpose our government is supposed to serve it is essential that you do so. When the Colonists decided that they had had enough of King George III’s special brand of tyranny they wrote a document that outlined the beliefs that would form the basis of American political thought. We know that document as the Declaration of Independence.
One of the most important things the Declaration of Independence does is it outlines the function ALL governments should serve. That purpose is stated as follows, “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, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
That is the purpose government is supposed to serve and it matters not what form that government takes, or what powers it may be given, government must seek to accomplish that purpose for it to be just. Now I’m not talking about Uncle Sam; he wasn’t born yet; I’m talking about government in general; from the local level all the way up to the big boys in the State capitals; government MUST accomplish the purpose all governments are established to serve for them to be just.
I couldn’t begin to list the ways in which government has failed to serve its intended purpose; either of its own arbitrary will or by the will of a majority of the people. With each passing day, with every new piece of legislation, with every Executive Order, our liberty is whittled away at by those entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that it is enjoyed equally by all.
Getting back to post revolutionary America, along comes a group of men who felt that the existing system of government did not meet the needs of the confederation; or so we were told. These men hold a convention, being given authority by their respective states to propose amendments the existing system. But do they do that? What they do is they lock the doors, swear themselves to secrecy, and they go about tearing down the existing plan so that it can be replaced by one of their own creation.
I’m often accused of being a conspiracy theorist, so let me back up and explain something to you. Many of those who attended this convention in 1787 had planned in advance to propose a system that would abolish the existing one and replace it with one they called ‘energetic’; meaning one with more power. There is ample evidence of this ‘conspiracy’, with one piece being a letter James Madison wrote to George Washington just a week before the convention was scheduled to convene.
For those of you who bandy about the title conspiracy theorist, do you even know the meaning of the word conspiracy? A conspiracy is a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful.
Well gee whiz people, doesn’t that sound exactly like what the framers of the Constitution did, plotted a conspiracy to topple the existing government and create one of their own making -all in secret – and totally against the authority delegated to them by those who they represented; the States? Therefore, can it not be said that our Constitution was the child of a conspiracy to topple a system of government? There is another word for that, I think it is a coup d’état.
We are taught that the steps these men took were necessary; that our confederation was crumbling due to the ineffectiveness of its system of government. Have you ever heard of William Pitt?
William Pitt was the Prime Minister of Great Britain in the middle of the 18th century. Well Pitt once said, “Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.” You might want to think about that the next time you hear someone suggest some new necessary measures to keep you safe, or battle some supposed enemy.
So intent were they upon depriving the States of their sovereignty; sovereign power which was delegated to them by the true sovereigns, the people, that they would not let the States vote either yeah or nay on the document they produced; instead it was to be sent to the people directly, with instructions which prohibited any amendments the people might feel better secured their liberty.
In fact, in the final days of the convention that produced the Constitution a measure was introduced which would have allowed the people time to read the proposed Constitution, then suggest amendments, which would then be debated in a second convention. This measure was voted down unanimously by the delegates from all the States being represented; they were told to take it or leave it as is.
We are taught that the Constitution derives its power from We the people, right? Well if the people could not propose amendments to a document which framed a system of government that had power over them, how well do you think that system actually represented the people? There is another fact that I wasn’t taught in high school civics. The only reason we have a Bill of Rights at all is because ratification was unsure in certain key States, and to calm the fears that the rights of the people would be threatened by this new system of government the Federalists, (those who supported ratification of the Constitution), promised that if they would just adopt this system of government a bill of rights would be added later.
Now pay attention, because this is the important part. After the Constitution was adopted, and the system of government went into operation, the States submitted lists of proposed amendments; numbering close to 200 of them in fact. Some of these proposals were duplicates; meaning more than one State submitted the same suggested amendment. James Madison weeded out the duplicates, then he went through the remaining proposals and eliminated all those that would strip the government of any powers, or place certain qualifications upon the exercise of their delegated powers.
So going all the way back to the Declaration of Independence we were told that government derives its just powers from the consent of the government. We also have the Preamble of the Constitution stating that it was We the People who ordain and establish this Constitution. Yet we have this government saying that We the People cannot make changes to the powers given it; or place restrictions upon when and how those powers might be exercised.
Does that strike you as being a system of government that had the people’s interests in mind; or the preservation of their liberty?
That’s why earlier I mentioned that to truly understand our system of government we must understand the motives of those who created it; for their motives were, to put it mildly, shady. People today complain about special interests, and it is all I can do to not laugh in their face. Our system of government was created by men who sought to create a system that would benefit special interests.
One would do well to undertake a serious study of one Robert Morris, who was the chief financier during the Revolution, who swindled the Confederation Congress out of millions of dollars. He was a staunch supporter of this proposed plan. It was men like Morris, lawyers, bankers, and leading figures in industry that this new system of government was created to serve; we were, and continue to be, the dupes who think that just because we can vote we have a say in what government does. Lysander Spooner described us well when he said, “A man is no less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years.”
People today blame the ‘other’ party for all the problems in America. It isn’t the other party people, it is government itself; and we wouldn’t have been stuck under this system of government had the Constitution not been written and ratified. The Constitution is the problem, it sucked from Day 1, and due to the ignorance and apathy of the American voter it has allowed government to exponentially expand its power, while at the same time deprive us of the liberty it was supposed to have been written to secure.
No matter how hard you vote, who you vote for, government will not change in that regard. The only solution is to abolish the system entirely, or suffer the fate of all those who place too much power in the hands of their governors – tyranny and despotism.
To quote Spooner again, “But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case it is unfit to exist.” I know, those are harsh words, but the truth is sometimes harsh; but the sooner you accept that truth, the better the chance we have of correcting the problem; if that is even possible at this stage of the game.
If you really wish to learn what the Constitution says, what was promised to those who ratified it, you won’t find it on the TV or in a high school civics book; you’ll only find it if you take the effort to read everything you can get your hands on regarding the entire process that led to the Constitution becoming the supreme law of the land. That means the correspondence between the framers prior to the convention of 1787; Madison’s notes from that convention; the Federalist and Anti Federalist papers, and the various notes taken during the State Ratifying Assemblies.
Only by studying those documents will you gain a clearer picture of how our Constitution came into existence, and how those who supported it lied through their teeth to get it ratified. In closing I’d like to leave you with a final quote from James Madison. Before I do though let me say that I don’t know if Madison was speaking from the heart, or if he was speaking out of the other side of his mouth as most politicians do. Regardless, Madison’s words should come as a call for you to seek out the truth about your precious Constitution, “…whatever veneration might be entertained for the body of men who formed our constitution, the sense of that body could never be regarded as the oracular guide in … expounding the constitution. As the instrument came from them, it was nothing more than the draught of a plan nothing but a dead letter, until life and validity were breathed into it, by the voice of the people, speaking through the several state conventions. If we were to look therefore, for the meaning of the instrument, beyond the face of the instrument, we must look of it no in the general convention, which proposed, but in the state conventions which accepted and ratified the constitution.” James Madison in Congress, Apr 6, 1796
Oh, by the way, the same guy who wrote the Declaration of Independence, (Thomas Jefferson), said pretty much the same thing in a letter to Justice William Johnson a quarter century later, “On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.” (Source: Thomas Jefferson to Justice William Johnson, June 12, 1823)
Now go back to the top of the page and re-read the quote I placed there…