Tuesday, October 22

Let's Read the Federalist Papers



Over the next few weeks I will be analyzing the Federalists Papers in order to better discern the founding father's intents regarding the true nature of our government and how they relate to current events.  I will try to analyze one per day until I have completed all 85.  I am also doing this because I hope that it will inspire others to read the Federalist Papers.  These documents are critical to understanding the foundations underpinning our Constitution.  Far too many conservatives, libertarians, and other fiscally conservative minded people have not read enough books and historical documents to truly understand and defend their philosophical beliefs  I hope that I will inspire a few people out there to become more intellectually inquisitive so that they might become more capable in the defense of their beliefs.

Many liberals and progressives today believe that our constitution is outmoded and not up to the task of overcoming modern challenges.  They also bemoan how government is too small and not efficient enough to tackle the problems we face today.  They cry that if only we could give the government more power to implement the popular policies of the day things might get better.  These cries though do not represent the common good of our nation, they instead represent the beliefs of a small group of inflexible and uncompromising people.  Men like the authors of the Federalist Papers: Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison understood the threat of such ideas and the people who hold them.  They knew how those ideas and people could lead our nation down a path to despotism and tyranny.

In Federalist #1 Alexander Hamilton warns of the perils of the coming process of constructing a new national government.  Hamilton specifically warns of men who "hope to aggrandize themselves by the confusions of their country."  Such men still exist today and they want you to believe that they have the best interests of our nation in their hearts, but the only interest they have mind is increasing their power or their faction's power.  The behavior of our President over the past few weeks is a prime example of such self-aggrandizing men.  His warnings of impending economic collapse due to the failure of congress to reach an agreement regarding the funding of our government was wholly irresponsible.  The President warned that if an agreement was not reached we would not be able to pay our bills on time and we would thus default on our national debt.  He seemingly wanted the nation's stock and credit markets to crash in order for him to capitalize on the 'confusion' such events would surely cause.  Men such as our President are the true extremists in the political battlefield today.

Unlike the politicians of today who falsely claim to practice moderation and bipartisanship, Alexander Hamilton makes no qualms about his beliefs and states very plainly that he "will not amuse you with an appearance of deliberation when I have decided" and that he " frankly acknowledge(s) to you my convictions, and I will freely lay before you the reasons on which they are founded."  Hamilton boldly state that he has his beliefs and he is now trying in earnest to convince the reader to side with him.  Hamilton neither steamrolls the opposition in his writing nor does he call them names, but instead uses eloquent rhetoric to set up both the upcoming debate regarding the future of American government and the basis of the Federalist Papers yet to be written.

The remainder of Federalist #1 provides a lesson which we can all learn from even in these modern times.  Hamilton speaks of the vices of politics and a need for deliberation in the coming process of creating a new national government.  Hamilton cautions his fellow citizens that neither side of the debate should forget that "ambition, avarice, personal animosity, party opposition, and many other motives not more laudable than these can affect both good and bad men."  This is a fact that all too many people on both sides of the aisle forget today.  Both sides are too quick to admonish one another and to believe the motives of their opponents have some sinister implications.  Hamilton then elaborates on the "intolerant spirit which has, at all times, characterized political parties," a statement at the time but now a prediction which has held true for over two hundred years.

Our President would be wise to heed Hamilton's advice that "in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution" and that "the stale bait for popularity at the expense of the public good."  Far too often has our President demeaned himself and his office to the lowest common denominator.  He has not sought compromise or deliberation, but instead resorted demagoguery.  Hamilton presaged about such men saying, "those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants."  The founding fathers may have been old, white, slave owning, and stupid old men to liberals and progressives, but Hamilton's insight into how liberty devolves into despotism shows his great wisdom. 

Here is a flow chart to demonstrate liberty's devolution into tyranny:
Hope and Change (obsequious court to the people) - Calling the Tea Party extortionists (commencing demagogues) - Ending Tyrants?
 Federalist #1 by and large was written by Hamilton to show his discontent about their current form of government (The Articles of Confederation) and justify his support for a new government.  Hamilton believed that "THE ADDITIONAL SECURITY WHICH ITS ADOPTION WILL AFFORD TO THE PRESERVATION OF THAT SPECIES OF GOVERNMENT, TO LIBERTY, AND TO PROPERTY."  Today that last part, property, has been abandoned by both parties.  Protection of individual property has reached new lows in recent years between eminent domain and now Obamacare.  The respect for the individual and their property has been eroded to a point where it is popular to call for the higher taxation of the rich to give to the poor, to call for the higher taxation of the youth to subsidize the retirements and healthcare of the old, and to regulate certain businesses out of existence.  This disrespect for individual property and liberty must be stopped.  In order to do this people must again read documents like the Federalist Papers and begin to realize that the Constitution though flawed in many aspects (that is why there are amendments after all) is a truly timeless document which can preserve our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of property.

I will leave you with this, like Alexander Hamilton "in the progress of this discussion I shall endeavor to give a satisfactory answer to all the objections which shall have made their appearance, that may seem to have any claim to your attention."

Guest posted from www.theenlightenedrepublican.com

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