10 Current Political Questions Answered By The Founding Fathers

The Federalist Papers are a collected series of essays that originally appeared in New York newspapers from 1787-1788, during the period of debate and ratification for the new Constitution.  In them, the series’ three authors–Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay–very clearly explain the nature of the Constitution and how it was to be implemented.

Their authority is, of course, unimpeachable.  Hamilton would become the first Secretary of the Treasury.  Jay would become the first Chief Justice of the United States.  And Madison, the primary architect of the Constitution itself, would go on to become our 4th president.

Here are some of our most auspicious Founders’ answers to ten pressing issues of the present day:

 

1. Is America a multicultural society, or a basically homogeneous Christian nation?

Answered by John Jay: “Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country, to one united people, a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs…”  –Federalist #2

2. Should American government be more Democratic (populist) or Republican (representative) in nature?

Answered by James Madison: “A pure Democracy, by which I mean, a Society, consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischief of faction.  A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole….A Republic, by which I mean a Government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking.”  –Federalist #10

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Universal Health Care Unconstitutional

A Virginia judge decided just over a week ago that ObamaCare’s mandate that people must purchase insurance exceeds the government’s constitutional authority.  My local newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, then printed a letter (which must have been written before the decision) defending universal health care. 

Today, the paper printed another letter responding to that one and, while it is excellent, it sadly isn’t mine, which I thought was pretty good itself.  Since the paper doesn’t seem interested in it, here it is:

Frederick Spoerl wrongly denied the success of the profit motive and made many mistakes about the Constitution in his Friday letter defending ObamaCare.

He says that the Founders never envisioned America’s “tremendous growth,” yet in Federalist #10, Madison said one of the chief benefits of a republic is that it may be “extended” over a “greater sphere of country.” Indeed, as presidents, the Founders added several states and territories to the nation, including Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase.

He criticizes those who would limit government size and scope, but ignores the tenth amendment, which says that the federal government may only be involved in things delineated in the Constitution itself.

Spoerl also writes that the Constitution denies voting to women and endorses segregation (neither of which it mentions at all), and promotes slavery. The Constitution opposes slavery. Article I, Section 2 thwarted the South’s desire for more representative power by limiting slave counting in the census, and Article I, Section 9 includes a ban on future importation of slaves.

Spoerl uses the “general welfare” clause of the Preamble to justify ObamaCare. Others had already thought that phrase could allow the government to do anything they saw as good, rather than the few specific things the Constitution defines as “general welfare,” and in Federalist #41, Madison responded to the misunderstanding: “a specification of the objects alluded to by these general terms, immediately follows….For what purpose could the enumeration of particular powers be inserted, if these and all others were meant to be included in the preceding general power?”

ObamaCare is unconstitutional, Mr. Spoerl, and your letter shows how ignorant of our founding charters someone must be to support it.

Summer Self Improvement Report (Or, Where’s Huston Been?)

So, in case nobody noticed, blogging was a wee bit light this summer.  Actually, chances are that nobody did notice, as the light blogging has dropped my daily hit count down to some of its lowest levels ever.  There’s a chance that nobody will ever read this!

So, what gives?  Well, my summer was eaten up by a few things: I put a ton of time into the autobiography of President Monson that I posted a few days ago, I took 18 credits of classes for my job (I wrote a few dozen essays and research papers this summer when I much rather would have been scribbling away here), and, alas, more than a little time and energy was expended in the management of a stressful matter. 

But I also devoted a lot of my summer to the work of self improvement.  After a pretty successful Spring, I started out this three month block with an ambitious list of twelve items to work on.  I finished seven.  Two others were very close–in fact, one of those that carried over to Fall has been finished already and another should be done within a week–two more were in process, and one was just a dumb idea. 

Here’s a report on the seven things I accomplished, in the order they were done:

1. Complete five more New York Times Sunday crossword puzzles.  Check.

2. See five more movies on the AFI list of 100 best American movies.  I saw:

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Political Perspective

This blog makes no secret that my politics are very conservative.  However, it bothers me that there is so much partisanship today, not so much in party affiliation as in the right/left dichotomy itself.  People on either side in our country are deeply steeped in heaping invective on the other side, treating them like monolithic stereotypes and indulging in harsh personal judgments against them.  I admit, I do some of this too, though I’ve tried to be better. 

Last month I read The Federalist Papers, and while it definitely did strengthen my conviction of conservative principles, one passage stood out as a warning against this cultural civil war between halves of the spectrum. 

In Federalist #50, James Madison refers to a contentious political gathering to examine government workings that had occurred a few years before.  In his analysis of it and its lessons for the new Constitution, he notes that “When men exercise their reason cooly and freely, on a variety of distinct questions, they invariably fall into different opinions, on some of them.”

Perhaps the political spectrum on the 1780’s wasn’t quite as wide or diverse as ours is now, but it’s always worth reminding ourselves that those who disagree with our positions aren’t trying to subvert democracy, destroy America, establish a dictatorship, or any other such thing.  We’re all trying to do the best we can to help America, in the best ways we know how.  Our ideas may conflict, but we don’t have to.

Ask The Founders

Here’s one for Independence Day.  This is the thrid time I’ve posted this now, and I like it more each time I read it!

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The Federalist Papers are a collected series of essays that originally appeared in New York newspapers during the period of debate and ratification for the new Constitution.  In them, the series’ three authors–Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay–very clearly explain the nature of the Constitution and how it was to implemented. 

Their authority is, of course, unimpeachable.  Hamilton would become the first Secretary of the Treasury.  Jay would become the first Chief Justice of the United States.  And Madison, the primary architect of the Constitution itself, would go on to become our 4th president.

Here are some of our most auspicious Founders’ answers to the pressing issues of the present day:

  • Is America a multicultural society, or a basically homogeneous Christian nation?

Answered by John Jay: “Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country, to one united people, a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs…”  –Federalist #2

  • Should American government be more Democratic (populist) or Republican (representative) in nature?

Answered by James Madison: “A pure Democracy, by which I mean, a Society, consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischief of faction.  A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole….A Republic, by which I mean a Government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking.”  –Federalist #10

“In a democracy, the people meet and exercise the government in person; in a republic they assemble and administer it by their representatives and agents.  A democracy consequently will be confined to a small spot.  A republic may be extended over a large region.”  –Federalist #14

  • Can America ensure that its citizens have equal success and comfort?

Answered by James Madison: Continue reading

Repeat: Ask The Founders

In the wake of yesterday’s nationwide socialist revolution (Nevada, long a conservative bastion [check here for proof], is now officially a blue state at almost all levels of government–thanks to everybody who moved here from California!), my thoughts turn again to what America is supposed to be. 

Yes, supposed to be.  There are things that America is designed to be, and things that it is not.  The best thing I can think of to say on the subject now is to reprint this piece which originally ran on July 1

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The Federalist Papers are a collected series of essays that originally appeared in New York newspapers during the period of debate and ratification for the new Constitution.  In them, the series’ three authors–Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay–very clearly explain the nature of the Constitution and how it was to implemented. 

Their authority is, of course, unimpeachable.  Hamilton would become the first Secretary of the Treasury.  Jay would become the first Chief Justice of the United States.  And Madison, the primary architect of the Constitution itself, would go on the become our 4th president.

Here are some of our most auspicious Founders’ answers to the pressing issues of the present day:

  • Is America a multicultural society, or a basically homogeneous Christian nation?

Answered by John Jay: “Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country, to one united people, a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs…”  –Federalist #2

  • Should American government be more Democratic (populist) or Republican (representative) in nature?

Answered by James Madison: “A pure Democracy, by which I mean, a Society, consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischief of faction.  A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole….A Republic, by which I mean a Government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking.”  –Federalist #10

“In a democracy, the people meet and exercise the government in person; in a republic they assemble and administer it by their representatives and agents.  A democracy consequently will be confined to a small spot.  A republic may be extended over a large region.”  –Federalist #14

  • Can America ensure that its citizens have equal success and comfort?

Answered by James Madison: Continue reading

Ask The Founders

A couple of semesters ago, a poli-sci major in my English 102 class gave me an article from a major Democrat-activist professor at another college, about why the Constitution needs to be interpreted anew in each generation as a “living document.”  I try to keep my politics well under cover in school (I can’t stand teachers who preach–I find it baldly unethical), but I guess somehow this fella figured out this article might rile me.

The article’s primary defense of its thesis was simply that the Founders had left no explication of the document and that there was no objective way to arrive at its “true” meaning.

Poppycock!  Had this esteemed professor never heard of the Federalist Papers?  The Federalist Papers are a collected series of essays that originally appeared in New York newspapers during the period of debate and ratification for the new Constitution.  In them, the series’ three authors–Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay–very clearly explain the nature of the Constitution and how it was to implemented. 

Their authority is, of course, unimpeachable.  Hamilton would become the first Secretary of the Treasury.  Jay would become the first Chief Justice of the United States.  And Madison, the primary architect of the Constitution itself, would go on the become our 4th president.

(By the way, I also love to refer to the Federalist Papers as an example of America’s depleted tradition of literacy.  The intricate, refined prose and thought of these essays were once the fodder of general interest newspaper materials; today, we’re lucky if we see them briefly mentioned in a college class and, even when we do, many of us marvel at how hard they are to read.  Alas.)

So, with no further ado, in anticipation of America’s 232nd annual “See ya later, England!” celebration, here are some of our most auspicious Founders’ answers to the pressing issues of the present day:

  • Is America a multicultural society, or a basically homogeneous Christian nation?

Answered by John Jay: “Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country, to one united people, a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs…”  –Federalist #2

  • Should American government be more Democratic (populist) or Republican (representative) in nature?

Answered by James Madison: “A pure Democracy, by which I mean, a Society, consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischief of faction.  A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole….A Republic, by which I mean a Government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking.”  –Federalist #10

“In a democracy, the people meet and exercise the government in person; in a republic they assemble and administer it by their representatives and agents.  A democracy consequently will be confined to a small spot.  A republic may be extended over a large region.”  –Federalist #14

  • Can America ensure that its citizens have equal success and comfort?

Answered by James Madison: “Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government [pure democracy], have erroneously supposed, that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions…”  –Federalist #10

  • Does America recognize itself a religiously-founded nation?

 Answered by James Madison: “It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it [the success of the Constitutional Convention], a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution.”  –Federalist #37

  • Should the national government be a vast bureaucracy with nearly infinite departments and programs?

Answered by James Madison: “The number of individuals employed under the Constitution of the United States, will be much smaller, than the number employed under the particular States.”  –Federalist #45

  • So, will the majority of governing be done by the federal authorities or by more localized government?

Answered by James Madison: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government, are few and defined.  Those which are to remain in the State Governments are numerous and indefinite.  The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negociation [sic], and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will for the most part be connected.  The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people; and the internal order, improvement, and property of the State.”  –Federalist #45

Answered by Alexander Hamilton: “The state governments will in all possible contingencies afford complete security against invasions of the public liberty by the national authority.” –Federalist #28

  • Does that mean that the government should take away less of people’s property and wealth; that people have a right to retain as much of it as possible?

Answered by James Madison: “Government is instituted no less for protection of the property, than of the persons of individuals.”  –Federalist #54

  • Does that also mean that the laws should be fewer and simpler than they are today?

Answered by James Madison: “It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.”  –Federalist #62

 

No wonder liberal activists ignore the Founding Fathers!  Leftist ideology is bluntly refuted by their precisely-delineated logic.  This rejection of America’s obvious heritage is no secret: on July 4, 2006, the Los Angeles Times had the temerity to publish a scurrilous essay by Mark Kurlansky that ridiculed our nation’s foundation based on nothing more than the wild, ignorant biases he revealed.

Meanwhile, those of us who still revere and study the Founders know that our nation is a conservative bastion of enlightened policy; in Lincoln’s words, “the last best hope.”

To close on a somewhat tangential note, I’d like to share my love for the fact that Latter-day Saints are duty bound to honor the Constitution.  In our April 1935 General Conference, President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. of the First Presidency, said, “That statement of the Lord, ‘I have established the Constitution of this land’ (D&C 101:80), puts the Constitution of the United States in the position in which it would be if it were written in this book of Doctrine and Covenants [a collection of revelations to Church prophets by Jesus Christ] itself.  This makes the Constitution the word of the Lord to us.”