Today is “Constitution Day”.
You will find an enthusiastic reminder on just about every conservative web site.
A great example is “’The Ultimate Authority … Resides in the People Alone’: The People and the Constitution” by Terrence Moore (published on BigGovernment).
Please read Mr Moore’s article before proceeding to the commentary below.
I have few issues with our Constitution as ratified. My concerns relate to the plethora of changes and false interpretations that have accumulated over the last 224 years.
In his celebration, Mr. Moore deviates from small but historically important facts. I will challenge certain of his statements (in blue below) with my allegations (in gray typeface) and with excerpts (in red below) from a book by John Taylor, of Caroline County VA, “Construction construed, and constitutions vindicated”, published in 1820.
…return government to its important but limited role in people’s lives—a role that both political leaders and the people understood until 1912 but has been mostly misunderstood and abandoned since then…
The struggle between centralists and decentralists has been with us since before the ratification of our Constitution, not merely since 1912.
At Philadelphia in 1787, the Framers of the Constitution created a national government that would be effective—even energetic—in its functions…
The Constitution was “sold” as a Federal government of delegated and limited powers. The sales pitch argued this new general government was not a National government. Debate around ratification was confused by the labels attached to the advocates. A “Federalist” was one who supported creation of a strong National government, while Anti-Federalists were those who opposed the creation of a nation over the united States.
…for the Constitution to be adopted, it was imperative that the first Congress adopt a Bill of Rights to be appended to it. The Bill of Rights, authored mostly by Madison, was meant to serve as an education to the people in what their rights are and an encouragement to them to guard those rights jealously.
In the hurry of a revolution … in imitation of the English practice of receiving franchises from kings, a bill of rights was annexed to several of the state constitutions; but it was soon discovered, that this was both superfluous and dangerous, superfluous, as according to the right of self-government, powers not bestowed, remained with the people, dangerous, as it seemed to imply that the people, as in England, derived their rights from the government.
This distinction put an end to the custom of annexing a bill of rights to state constitutions, and caused a proposition of the kind to be rejected by the sages, statesmen, and patriots, who framed the constitution of the United States.
And exactly as feared, the first ten Amendments to the Constitution, our “Bill of Rights”, is perceived by most citizens today as a ‘grant of rights’ by our government rather than an acknowledgement of pre-existing rights of man.
What happened? It is a sad, century-long story. Simply put, the 17th Amendment killed federalism, and the 16th Amendment opened up our pockets. The Progressive Democrats were able to debauch our understanding of rights…
Yes, the 16th and 17th Amendments are an evil thrust upon us by the Progressives. HOWEVER, the evil of National tyranny began far earlier than a century ago.
Encroachments by the general government upon States began with the tariffs of 1820’s, was highlighted in the Nullification Crisis of the 1830’s, and bloody war of the 1860’s. In prosecuting that war, a REPUBLICAN administration destroyed the compact theory of Federal government and replaced it with the concept of a National sovereignty.
D.W.Griffith was correct in his title “Birth of a Nation” to describe the effects of Reconstruction.
It is however superfluous to consider, whether the sovereignty of the people is a better or worse political maxim, than the sovereignty of the government …
If the government created the people, that is organized them into a nation, there can be no doubt but that the government is sovereign. The kings of England had a claim to sovereignty upon this ground. They created a nation (lords and commons) by successive charters and franchises.
… our nation created their governments. … an observation of no little weight.
Go back and re-read the comment immediately above, from 1820. Then reflect on the actions of Lincoln and the consequence of Reconstruction. These united States (plural) were converted, through military action, from a voluntary confederation to an “indivisible nation”.
How are we now different from the subjects of the Crown of England? Sovereignty won by “The People” in our War of Independence was transferred to the United States (singular) through an act of conquest.
Do you hold any hope that we can recover the spirit of the Revolution and the enthusiasm of the Founders for Life, Liberty and Property?
Mostly Dead (The Princess Bride)
In the words of Miracle Max: “It would take a miracle.”
Are you a miracle-worker ?