The Preservation of the Republic
What were the Founding Fathers thinking before they drafted the Constitution? We know they were religious, moral men, educated in history and the classics, and they were deep thinkers. These qualities directly resulted in a philosophy of government that is explained in the Federalist Papers. In the basics of their philosophy, they believed men had a “natural right” to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as is written in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. And further: “-- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” They believed these lofty values and objectives originated with birth for all men. Seems to be reasonable that all men want freedom to enjoy life, and a happy existence.
To preserve these rights, the group posited that a government was necessary because human nature is a constant throughout history, with higher values and lower values. We intuitively know the higher values are morality, integrity, ethics and decency. Alexander Hamilton argued in Federalist Papers 6 for a strong federal government since “…men are ambitious, vindictive, and rapacious,” which are the low part of human nature. These are conflicting qualities of human nature, but constant.
The Founders were familiar with various forms of government throughout history, from tyranny to direct democracy. What form of government would preserve these natural rights? A government should be consented to by the people who want to preserve those values. How could that be accomplished and safely embrace all men in a country populated with people with higher and lower values? Consent alone, in a direct democracy, does not guarantee the rights of all men, especially the less powerful, who may be the wiser segments of society. They opined that direct democracy had proven dangerous to those principals, since elected legislatures with brief terms could change laws based on the passions of the moment. New laws could be unjust and adverse to smaller segments of society who did not win the majority, but who might have a rational view that would be just, and preserve stability and freedom.
Direct democracies could establish tyrannies of the legislature, controlled by the consent of a depraved majority. For example, the populace, in its self-interest, could vote to erase its debt to the detriment of creditors, print money with no value, thereby erasing an important part of the economy that supports economic growth and stability. Property of citizens could be confiscated for the purported public good. Direct democracy could result in elective despotism. Liberty, especially economic liberty, is diminished. The pursuit of happiness is impeded.
People want to consent to be governed in order to make them safe to live their lives and prosper, including protection against crime and disorder. Vigilantes are helpful to deter crime in disordered cultures such as currently exists in lawless Haiti. But crime prevention is a responsibility which should fall upon the government. What form of government would be wiser, quell the passions of the populace, and preserve justice and freedom for the long term? James Madison wrote in Federalist Papers 10 that a Republic will “…refine and enlarge the public views by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial consideration.”
The passions of the populace would be reflected in the House, but pass through the Senate with longer terms, who hopefully would have the wisdom to protect the nation. Separation in three equal branches of government would prevent aggregating power in one despotic branch. The government would further be limited by the Bill of Rights.
A republic is a sophisticated form of government that relies on the morality and decency of the populace. But can this experiment persist? Today we are faced with a growing faction of progressives, a philosophy embraced by President Wilson, Taft, and Roosevelt. They believed that we should have a different government because times have changed, and the Constitution is too restrictive on government. They suggest that today’s leaders are less a danger to the governed since man has improved. Progressives want to redistribute wealth, change attitudes toward private property, regulate citizens lives in new ways, and intervene in private economic matters.
Currently we can see that the decency of the population has suffered a serious blow with the violence of Antifa and BLM, and the promulgation of gender reassignment of children supported by some businesses and the federal government. The changing demographics in this country resulting from unfettered entry into this country by failed cultures without shared values may further undermine the aforementioned qualities required for a republic. The most recent loss for rationality is the passage of the debt limit, which is imprudent and will be an anchor on the prosperity of the country for decades. These ideas were passed through the chosen body of citizens, the Senate and the House, but these legislative bodies obviously did not have the wisdom to discern the true interests of their country. Legislative representatives have themselves become men who are “ambitious, vindictive, and rapacious.” We can change that. You cannot have liberty without adherence to justice, frugality, and virtue, and to have a free country the populace must be relatively decent and share the higher moral values. Most Americans, and probably people in general, adhere to these simple ideas.
The Founders 234 years ago were uncanny in their wisdom, intelligence, and foresight when they initialed into the Bill of Rights the right to speak out. The unforeseen explosion of all media outlets in modern day is now available to all Americans, and we see the ballooning of ideas in all media that will assuredly preserve the Republic. Through modern instantly generated news from media, followed by instant analysis, people become aware of the issues facing the country. Freedom of speech and freedom of thought cannot be stopped. The citizens can intuitively recognize what is true and best for the nation. Try as some progressives might to quell freedom of expression, most media are unencumbered by government interference. Each day as one watches television, smartphones, or some obscure blog, the analysis of those issues, the conflicting ideas in those analysis become clearer. We can judge for ourselves what is true. On can see a growing presence and effective influence of traditional ideas appearing in the media. The citizen sees they have influence on the government by expressing these ideas and by their vote. This process cleanses and refreshes the mind. One can see the solid outcome which is the preservation of the Republic. We will survive and establish our Republic as the longest-lasting form of government ever created.
Image: Junius Brutus Steams