Actually, Madison said it best! Part II

November 28, 2013

Continuing, in response to M.B. Craft’s letter of Oct. 31.

Ms. Craft is concerned that I think people who have a different opinion than mine, are “clueless”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ms. Craft may be misguided, but certainly not clueless. As a matter of fact, she may be the most formidable political debater on this site; if only most voters were as informed as she.

My concern about voters was never about their opinion, left or right; but about political awareness. Surely most people understand that there are voters who vote Democrat or Republican because that is always how they voted, voted for a man because of the color of his skin, voted because they just turned 18, voted on a single issue, voted simply because they thought it was required or the right thing to do, voted for the prettiest face, or most presidential looking, voted against a candidate because of his religion, will vote in 2016 simply because of gender. I’m not concerned about who you vote for, I am concerned that you have a clue about what is best for this country. Is that unreasonable? Voting is not a right; it is a privilege and a responsibility. The Constitution had an elegant solution to this voter problem in the Electoral College, before the EC was gutted by the 12th Amendment in 1803, a mere fifteen years after the Constitution was ratified!

Discussing the Constitution, Mary states that the country has changed since 1789, and I have no argument with that. But the relevant question should be: has human nature changed since 1789? Has man’s lust for money, power, and control, changed since then? It has not! That is what the Constitution is about; it protects the people from the government. That is why the Constitution is not a “living document” and does not need to change with the times. That is why politicians are not fond of the Constitution; it protects the God-given rights of citizens, and limits the power of the federal government, as well as the political ambitions of men.

Finally, Ms. Craft quotes Thomas Jefferson, one of the greatest Founding Fathers, and chief writer of the Declaration of Independence. I verified the quote through several sites, and I am satisfied that the quote is genuine. Jefferson starts out arguing the legitimacy of a previous generation saddling the present and future generations in undeserved debt (exactly what we have done with our trillions in unpaid liabilities to our progeny). Interestingly, he concludes there is a natural limit to lending funds beyond the lifespan of the present generation, and that lenders who are careless enough to lend beyond that, should not be paid further. His analysis then widens to include binding future generations with governance, constitutions, and laws.

Jefferson was not one of the Framers (a member of the Constitutional Convention), but an ambassador to France at the time. In a letter to James Madison, Father of the Constitution, Jefferson presents his financial analysis, and then raises the question about succeeding generations accepting the Constitution from the preceding generation. Jefferson’s conclusion states, “Every constitution, then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of 19 years (maturity of the new generation). If it be enforced longer, it is an act of force and not of right”. Ms. Craft presents this as an argument that even Jefferson thought the Constitution should be changed from time to time. The Framers had already provided two ways to amend the Constitution, should it be deemed necessary; the process being kept difficult, to discourage frivolous changes. But Jefferson sent his letter early in September of 1789 anyway. It is likely that Jefferson’s argument, had he presented it at the Convention, would have been rebuked as leading at least, to a temporary discontinuance of government, and at worst to chaos and anarchy. James Madison’s answer, as the Constitution’s chief architect, would be pertinent to this argument.

Madison’s letter is cumbersome to read, and I am trying to come up with a reasonable interpretation, which I hope to have available soon in the final part of this trilogy, part III.

Armand Carreau


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