Wednesday, October 23

Federalist #2: The Necessity of Union

Federalist #2 written by John Jay continues to examine the utility of maintaining the Union amongst the states.  John Jay like many of the other founding fathers believed that the success of our nation depended upon maintaining our unity.  Without the Union we would have just become a discordant group of confederacies.  Inside of Federalist #2 there are also some insights into the thinking of the founding fathers as well as their persuasion to a national federal government.

A big point I must make to libertarians and tea party members out there who claim the mantle of the  founding fathers for their pet projects; the founding fathers were NOT advocates of little or no government.  The founding fathers realized the utility of a certain amount of government, but this by no means denotes the founding fathers were for big government. The founding fathers like Jay largely believed "nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers."  Conservatives today do not use these philosophical foundations that the founding fathers, like Jay, bestowed to them.  Instead the conservative movement has allowed itself to be defined by the opposition as a group who hates government and cares little for the citizens of our nation.  This characterization though is the exact opposite of what conservatism or what was once known as liberalism represents.

Conservatives need to embrace the tactics used in the Federalist Papers in order to convince the citizenry of the effectiveness and correctness of their policies.  In the first two papers Jay and Alexander Hamilton both use a dose of humility in order to convince the reader that their beliefs are "founded in truth and sound policy."  This tactic is little used by conservatives today.  Conservatives and the members Republican Party seemed to be split into two camps: THE ESTABLISHMENT WHO IS UNCERTAIN OF WHAT THEY STAND FOR AND THE OPPOSITION WHOSE ARROGANCE HINDERS THEM OF THE ABILITY TO ARTICULATE WHY THEIR POSITIONS ARE THE BEST COURSE FOR OUR NATION.  Some self examination on our part regarding our tactics is needed and the solution is not that hard to reach because it was devised a little over two hundred years ago in the Federalist Papers.

Jay writes at great length about a topic that many Americans speak little of today out of fear of retribution from the established forces in our nation.  This topic is how Providence (God, the Creator, Fate, etc...) has blessed this great nation and that we should not eschew its plans, because the plans Providence has for us are plans of greatness.  This theme is at the crux of Jay's argument as to why they should maintain the union instead of splitting into a number of confederacies.  Jay says in  defense of union that "Providence has in a particular manner blessed it with a variety of soils and productions, and watered it with innumerable streams, for the delight and accommodation of its inhabitants."  He continues that "with equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that 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, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence."  Jay believes that is an insult to Providence for our nation to go its separates ways and somehow "this country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties."  This is a belief seldom few on the left hold today and few on the right will defend out of fear of retribution from the political correctness police.  This is a belief that must be held dear to our hearts, because if lose what is common among us, America is sure to shatter into a variety of different confederacies.

My favorite part thus far about the Federalist Papers is the manner of argument that Jay and Hamilton have used.  They are certain in their beliefs, but at the same time they make clear their "plan is only RECOMMENDED, not imposed."  They want it to be known to the people that this is the people's decision to make and not the decision of a few select men behind closed doors (Yes Mr. President and Mr. Speaker this is complaint is aimed directly at you) .  Just because the new government had been constructed behind closed doors in Philadelphia does not mean that the it was "recommended to BLIND approbation, nor to BLIND reprobation; but to that sedate and candid consideration which the magnitude and importance of the subject demand, and which it certainly ought to receive."  Unlike many politicians and leaders today who assume that our citizens are dull and dimwitted; Jay ensures that the reader feels they are intelligent and they are important in this historical decision.  In our modern times the tactic of most politicians seems to devolve into who is the better of two bad decisions.  Conservatives and Republicans must avoid this line of attack and instead use Jay and Hamilton as inspiration to involve the American people in truly becoming part of the political process.  We must empower the citizenry to be the rulers and not the ruled as we are today.

Jay finishes with a beautiful summation that "the prosperity of America depended on its Union" supporting this belief with the words of a poet, "FAREWELL! A LONG FAREWELL TO ALL MY GREATNESS."  I have nothing as eloquent as Jay's words to leave with you today, but my hope is that you will learn from the rhetorical tactics of Jay and Hamilton to enhance your ability to convince the unconvinced of your convictions.

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