One fact on which everyone can agree is that our nation is in crisis. In fact, this election cycle has been a series of crises: The illegal immigration crisis, the healthcare crisis, the energy crisis, and most recently the housing and financial crises. The one crisis we do not read about in the mainstream media is the real one: the crisis in government.
At the bottom of all the crises we face as a nation there is a crisis of government that has given rise to all the rest. The American people have lost control of their government or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say we have surrendered our control at the ballot box in exchange for the empty promises of our favorite politicians. In the process we have given up a major portion of our liberties. Moreover, we seem poised to vote away those we have left in the coming election.
We have faced threats to our liberties many times in the past. Almost without exception these threats always come when we allow our elected representatives in Washington to set aside or ignore the restraints placed on government by the Constitution. Just this year alone Washington has obligated taxpayers to an additional $2 trillion in debt on top of the $10 trillion already owed. If we add the cost of unfunded mandates that total climbs to over $50 trillion.
Without some type of government reform, these debts will never be repaid. The numbers just do not add up. Our GDP has been running about $14 trillion annually. That will probably go down over the next year or two as we recover from our current financial difficulties. Our rate of spending is somewhere close to $500 billion more than we take in in revenue each year. Exact figures are impossible to obtain before they have been politically adjusted.
Any reform of government must start with a reform of Congress. That reform must involve a return to the Constitution. Congress has always been at odds with the Constitution because it limits it powers. Over the past few decades, thanks to the liberal takeover of our education system, too many Americans do not understand the concept of “limited government”. Therefore they allow Congress to expand the tentacles of government into every nook and cranny of our lives with impunity.
If we are to believe the consensus of mainstream media, the next Congress is going to be the most liberal one in memory. It is easy to despair of any possibility of meaningful reform of Congress in the next few years. Fortunately, the prospects are not as bleak as they seem. This is not the first time in history we have been faced with similar attempts to undermine our constitutional form of government.
The first and perhaps, the most serious effort was attempted by the Federalists, the first political party established by John Adams and Alexander Hamilton in the early years of our republic. In order to combat this effort Thomas Jefferson and James Madison formed an opposition party, the Democratic-Republican Party, referred to at the time simply as republicans.
In his memoirs Jefferson relates a conversation he had with President George Washington on October 1, 1792. During the conversation he shared with Washington his misgivings about Hamilton’s view of the Constitution.
“He [Washington] then expressed his concern at the difference which he found to subsist between the Secretary of the Treasury and myself, of which he said he had not been aware. He knew, indeed, that there was a marked difference in our political sentiments, but he had never suspected it had gone so far in producing a personal difference, and he wished he could be the mediator to put an end to it.”
“That he thought it important to preserve the check of my opinions in the administration, in order to keep things in their proper channel, and prevent them from going too far. That as to the idea of transforming this government into a monarchy, he did not believe there were ten men in the United States whose opinions were worth attention, who entertained such a thought.”
“I told him there were many more than he imagined. I recalled to his memory a dispute at his own table, a little before we left Philadelphia, between General Schuyler on one side and Pinckney and myself on the other, wherein the former maintained the position, that hereditary descent was as likely to produce good magistrates as election.”
“I told him, that though the people were sound, there were a numerous sect who had monarchy in contemplation; that the Secretary of the Treasury was one of these. That I had heard him say that this constitution was a shilly-shally thing, of mere milk and water, which could not last, and was only good as a step to something better. That when we reflected, that he had endeavored in the convention, to make an English constitution of it, and when failing in that, we saw all his measures tending to bring it to the same thing, it was natural for us to be jealous; and particularly, when we saw that these measures had established corruption in the legislature,…”
In a letter to Doctor Benjamin Rush dated January 16, 1811 Jefferson relates a dinner conversation at Monticello between John Adams and Alexander Hamilton concerning the English constitution.
“While he [Adams] was Vice-President, and I Secretary of State, I received a letter from President Washington, then at Mount Vernon, desiring me to call together the Heads of departments, and to invite Mr. Adams to join us (which, by the bye, was the only instance of that being done) in order to determine on some measure which required dispatch; and he desired me to act on it, as decided, without again recurring to him.”
“I invited them to dine with me, and after dinner, sitting at our wine, having settled our question, other conversation came on, in which a collision of opinion arose between Mr. Adams and Colonel Hamilton, on the merits of the British Constitution, Mr. Adams giving it as his opinion, that, if some of its defects and abuses were corrected, it would be the most perfect constitution of government ever devised by man. Hamilton, on the contrary, asserted, that with its existing vices, it was the most perfect model of government that could be formed; and that the correction of its vices would render it an impracticable government. And this you may be assured was the real line of difference between the political principles of these two gentlemen.”
In many ways the efforts of the early Federalists to transform our government into a Monarchy resembles the modern efforts by Democrats to transform it into a Democratic Socialist one. Since we are not a monarchy today, it is evident that something happened to thwart the designs of Hamilton, Adams, and the Federalist Party. In researching the constitutional duties of the Vice President, I ran across an interesting passage in a petition to the Virginia Legislature by Jefferson seeking permission to sell off some of his property by lottery in order to pay off debts.
It seems that they were suffering from a decline in real estate values at the time (sound familiar?) and the only way Jefferson felt he could get a fair price for the property was through a lottery which required legislative approval. In the petition, Jefferson offered a recap of his sixty plus years of public service to the young republic. In it we find this revealing and inspiring passage.
“If it were thought worth while to specify any particular services rendered, I would refer to the specification of them made by the legislature itself in their Farewell Address, on my retiring from the Presidency, February, 1809.”
“There is one, however, not therein specified, the most important in its consequences, of any transaction in any portion of my life; to wit, the head I personally made against the federal principles and proceedings, during the administration of Mr. Adams.”
“Their usurpations and violations of the constitution at that period, and their majority in both Houses of Congress, were so great, so decided, and so daring, that after combating their aggressions, inch by inch, without being able in the least to check their career, the republican leaders thought it would be best for them to give up their useless efforts there, go home, get into their respective legislatures, embody whatever of resistance they could be formed into, and if ineffectual, to perish there as in the last ditch.”
“All, therefore, retired, leaving Mr. Gallatin alone in the House of Representatives, and myself in the Senate, where I then presided as Vice-President. Remaining at our posts, and bidding defiance to the brow-beatings and insults by which they endeavored to drive us off also, we kept the mass of republicans in phalanx together, until the legislatures could be brought up to the charge; and nothing on earth is more certain, than that if myself particularly, placed by my office of Vice-President at the head of the republicans, had given way and withdrawn from my post, the republicans throughout the Union would have given up in despair, and the cause would have been lost for ever.”
“By holding on, we obtained time for the legislatures to come up with their weight; and those of Virginia and Kentucky particularly, but more especially the former, by their celebrated resolutions, saved the constitution, at its last gasp. No person who was not a witness of the scenes of that gloomy period, can form any idea of the afflicting persecutions and personal indignities we had to brook. They saved our country however.” (Emphasis Added)
This piece of history contradicts popular beliefs concerning Jefferson and the constitutional office, President of the Senate. Popular history has it that Jefferson neglected his duty of presiding over the Senate and spent his term in office in abstention at home at Monticello. I referred to this in my last blog post, “Sarah Palin as President of the Senate”. It seems I was incorrect and owe an apology to Mr. Jefferson.
It should also put to rest the statement by Joe Biden in last week’s Vice Presidential debate that the Vice President has no constitutional connection to the Legislative Branch of government. Which brings me to the purpose of this post. Our best chance of reforming Congress and thus reforming government is to elect the McCain-Palin ticket next month.
Governor Palin has expressed her willingness to fulfill her constitutional duties as President of the Senate, although she seemed somewhat tentative in her answer to this question during the debate; as though she was not sure of the constitutional grounds she was standing on. Her past record of reform in previous offices she has held gives credence to this hope, however.
If McCain wakes up and decides to run against Congress instead of against George Bush there is a chance he could win in a landslide since the approval rating for Congress is below ten percent. He also needs to put more emphasis on putting some tarnish on Obama’s media created image. “Nice guys finish last.”
Copy and e-mail this link to a friend: Thomas Jefferson Advice to Sarah Palin