Tag Archives: john adams

Looking Back at Our Future

For most of us, our concept of history begins with our own generation. Consequently, we believe that the problems we face were invented by us and it is up to us to find new solutions for them. That is not the case, however. Many generations have faced the problems we are dealing with today. The reason we are having such a difficult time in solving them is twofold.  First is the idea that it is up to our political leadership, and particularly those in our national government to come up with the solutions. Second is our tendency to view every problem as a separate issue, each with its own unique solution.

Although, on the surface, the problems we face today all seem to be separate issues, they are not. Out of control spending, the looming specter of confiscatory taxes, a burgeoning national debt, health care, energy, the global warming farce, declining quality of education and all the other issues we worry about daily are merely symptoms of our one fundamental problem, a lawless, out of control government.  That, in itself, is not new by any means. It dates back to the beginning of our republic and to some of our Founding Fathers.

President Obama brought nothing new to the table.  His administration is merely the culmination of the hundred year assault on our Constitution that began in the late eighteen hundreds during the Progressive (American socialist) era. Even that was not the first attempt by our elected leaders to circumvent the Constitution. Many of the Delegates who participated in the Philadelphia Convention were in favor of an all-powerful federal government with the state governments subordinate to its will.  That is why it proved so difficult to get a Bill of Rights added to the Constitution after it was ratified by the states.

The lust for power was as strong in the breasts of our Founders as in any of the politicians we send to Washington today. John Adams, for example, one of the leading patriots during the Revolution, and who later became our first Vice-President and then our second President, was a great admirer of the British system of government, as was his close friend Alexander Hamilton. Jefferson relates an incident concerning Hamilton and Adams and their admiration of the British Constitution in a letter to Benjamin Rush, January 16, 1811.

“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.”

As we pointed out in a previous post, the British constitution is the model for the progressives concept of a “living Constitution”. Jefferson also made the following observation concerning Adams’ Presidency in a 1793 letter to James Madison.

“…If Mr. Adams could be induced to administer the government on its true principles, quitting his bias for an English constitution, it would be worthy consideration whether it would not be for the public good,”…

Today, Adams is esteemed as one of our greatest Presidents, and in many ways, he was.  However, he seemed to possess two of the character flaws that are common among those who aspire to government. First was the belief that only a member of an aristocracy is suited to the role of government, and second was his inability to deal well with opposition. These characteristics coupled with his disregard for the American Constitution caused him to overstep his authority as President and eventually destroyed his Presidency and the Federalist Party he and Hamilton founded.  Jefferson also referred to this aspect of the Presidency of Adams in his “Thoughts On Lotteries” included in a petition to the Virginia Legislature around 1825.

“…[D]uring the administration of Mr. Adams, [t]heir 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…..”

The Federalist Party’s and Adams’ disregard for the constraints of the Constitution, more than anything else resulted in his defeat at the polls in 1800 and the eventual demise of the Party some twenty years later. The electorate could very well deliver the same verdict on the Obama Presidency and the Democratic Party in 2010 and 2012. That, in fact, represents the best and possibly only hope for the survival of our Republic.

Should the present follow the same course as history, displaced Democrats will flock to the Republican Party over the next few decades, transforming it into a progressive party. That would be the proper time for the emergence of a “Constitution based” Conservative Party to preserve the Republic. The current attempts by the media and the progressives to encourage the formation of a third party based on the tea party resistance, is premature and self-defeating.  Its only result would be the continuance of the country in the grip of progressivism, leading to the final destruction of the Constitution.

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Burris vs. Reid

liberty-bellThe controversy over the appointment of Roland Burris as the Senate replacement for President-Elect Barack Obama is another reminder of how far we have strayed from the constraints imposed on Congress by the Constitution.  It also provides a good object lesson for the American people.  Politically the appointment of Burris to replace Obama in the Senate is a messy tangle of political intrigue.  Constitutionally it is simple and straightforward.

Burris was appointed by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.  Blagojevich has been accused by Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. Attorney of attempting to sell the Senate seat for personal gain.  However, Blagojevich has not been indicted or convicted.  The State Legislature has expressed the intention of impeaching the Governor, but thus far have not done so.

Until Governor Blagojevich resigns or is impeached by the Legislature, he is still the legal Governor of Illinois and entitled to exercise all the duties of that office.  One of those duties is to appoint a replacement Senator to fill out the term of Barack Obama.  Amendment 17 to the Constitution provides two methods for filling Senate vacancies.

(3) “When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: (4) Provided, that the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.”  ~Amendment 17, Section 1, clauses 3 and 4.

Regardless of the ethical challenges Blagojevich may be afflicted with, the appointment was legal and, according to the Constitution, should stand until the voters elect a replacement, either through a special election or when the term expires in 2010.  Since, according to this Amendment, only the Governor is empowered to issue a “Writ of Election” and he has not indicated a willingness to do so, it seems we are stuck with Burris.  If the Legislature has not already given the Governor appointment authority by a prior statute, their only recourse seems to be obtaining a Writ of Mandamus forcing the Governor to call an election.  In the meantime Burris is the legally appointed interim Senator.

Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid has stated that he would not allow Burris to be sworn in when he arrives in Washington, and when Burris showed up January 6, he was refused admittance.  The question then becomes, on what Constitutional ground does Reid stand?  A good place to start would be with the office of “Senate Majority Leader”.

The office of Majority Leader is not a Constitutional office.  The Constitution authorizes the Senate to elect a President Pro Tem and any other officers they deem necessary. However, the Constitution does not authorize the Senate to assign Constitutional powers to those officers.  The only Constitutional officers of the Senate are The President of The Senate and the President Pro Tem to serve in the President’s absence.

Article 1.3.6 “The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.”

Article 1.3.7 “The Senate shall choose their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.”

By tradition the office of Senate President has become ceremonial, with the Vice-President taking the chair only on special occasions.  However, this practice is not born out by the Constitution or the early history of the office, particularly the Vice-Presidencies of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and John C. Calhoun who served as Vice-President and President of the Senate under two separate Presidents.
(For more on this see “Thomas Jefferson’s Advice to Sarah Palin” and “Sarah Palin as President of the Senate”.)

The intention of the Founders was that the office of President of the Senate should be the second highest office in the government, next to the President.  This is the logical conclusion from three Constitutional facts.  (1)  The title itself implies executive authority.  (2) The President of the Senate is the only nationally elected officer in the Legislative Branch.  (3)  The Senate is charged with legislative responsibilities effecting the nation as a whole, such as the ratification of treaties, and the ratification of Executive Branch appointments, including Justices of the Supreme Court.  In addition the Senate is established as the court for trying impeachments.

It is inconceivable that the Founders should intend that the Senate Executive should be someone beholden to a political party and not necessarily the welfare of the nation.  The practice of allowing the Senate Majority Leader to function as President of the Senate is clearly unconstitutional and the usurpation of responsibilities assigned by the Constitution to the Vice-President.

Further evidence of this is found in the early history of the Republic.  John Adams, the first Vice-President under George Washington ruled the Senate with an iron hand.  So much so that the Senators rebelled near the end of his first term causing him to modify his management style.  Thomas Jefferson, who served as the second Vice-President under John Adams counts his years as President of the Senate as the most important years of his political career.  He credits his opposition to the Federalist majority in Congress with saving the Constitution and the Republic.

Harry Reid’s refusal to allow Burris to take the oath of office clearly oversteps his authority, leaving the question as to whether the entire Senate has the authority to refuse to seat him.  Reid gives as his reason the belief that Burris is unqualified for the position because of the controversy surrounding his appointment.  The Constitutional authority for making such a judgment is based on Article I, Section five which states “Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members…”

The function of a judge is to apply the law or rules to the case at hand, not to make up the rules, or legislate new laws.  The Constitutional qualifications for a Senator are three in number, (1) at least thirty years in age, (2) nine years a citizen of the United States and (3) an inhabitant of the state at the time of his election or appointment.  The fourth implied qualification is that he be legally elected or appointed.  Article I, Section 3, Clause 5.

Senator Burris meets all of these qualifications and therefore he is the Junior Senator from Illinois.  After he is sworn in a super-majority of the Senate may expel him, but only after showing he has engaged in misbehavior.  Article I, Section 5, Clause 3. In this case as in hundreds of others the Senate is attempting to circumvent the Constitution for political purposes.