First off, Happy Constitution Day!!!
225 years ago 55 men, the best and brightest from 13 colonies got together to address what Gen. Washington described as, “Thirteen sovereignties pulling against each other, and all tugging at the federal head, will soon bring ruin on the whole” , describing the woeful inadequacies of the AOC, and a need for federal authority to intercede amongst the 13 squabbling siblings. A nice little write of Madison and his magnificent achievement can be found here.
And with the inclusion of the Bill Of Rights (interestingly, Madison had originally wanted them be interwoven into the text of the Constitution itself, but this was rejected in favor of placing amendments at the end of the original document)the mortar that helped cement the new relationship between the states, the people, and their new national government was set.
It is always appealing to project founding father wisdom into current events, what would the founding fathers think about how we treated their grand experiment? Conventional wisdom probably points to a general shock, a surprise at how effed up we allowed the system to become. In some areas they are right. I don’t think they would be all that thrilled about the rise, power and influence of the federal government. Stuff like “Too big to fail”, the EPA, Dept. of Education, using tax payer dollars to pick winners and loser, buying whole industries by the bushel, the general reach would probably leave them aghast. Our taxation system, out national debt, Oy vey. Even things like separation of church and state and privacy issues, might cause them to scratch their head. But the arguments involving the general interpretations of the Constitution, strict constructionist’s vs. a living document, I think they would welcome the debate. Madison cobbled together his version of what our Constitution should look like from several works and several authors, from different countries and different systems, all went into the soup. But even with the finished product, the feeling that it could be improved never left them, hence the amendment process.
And today our civil liberties are still in the news, most notably now, the First Amendment and religious protections. Since that eventful day in 1787 great men have reminded us that having something is not the same as keeping it ,”“Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?” “A Republic, if you can keep it.”
“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” Thomas Paine:
“But you must remember, my fellow-citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing. It behooves you, therefore, to be watchful in your States as well as in the Federal Government.” — Andrew Jackson, Farewell Address, March 4, 1837
“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” — Wendell Phillips
And yet, free speech is still under assault:
When stuff like this can still happen in America, no one is safe, and the mob will not be placated.
They are all watching us, seeing if we can keep this Republic, the jury is still out.