What Did They Know?

As I have stated before, I am deeply engrossed in the reading of a two-volume set on the Constitutional debates. Most of these were carried out in various newspapers of the time. As I read, I begin to understand the position of those opposed to the new constitution. They had a very good take on human nature and our ability to corrupt that which is intended to be good and beneficial. Look at this piece…

Reply to Wilson’s Speech by Arthur Lee (Cincinnatus) November 28, 1787

“Sir, In my former observations on your speech, to your fellow-citizens, explanatory and defensive of the new constitution; it has appeared, by arguments to my judgment unanswerable, that by ratifying the constitution, as the convention proposed it, the people will leave the liberty of the press, and the trial by jury, in civil cases, to the mercy of their rulers – that the project is to burthen them with enormous taxes, in order to raise and maintain armies, for the purposes of ambition and arbitrary power – that this power is to be vested in an aristocratic senate, who will be either themselves the tyrants, or the support of tyranny, in a president, who will know how to manage them, so as to make that body at once the instrument and shield of his absolute authority – Even the Roman Emperors found it necessary to have a senate for this purpose.”

I confess I am somewhat in question as to Mr. Lee’s point. On the one hand, the senate was to be a tool of the individual states. The state legislatures would elect the senators. This would seem to me to have taken any influence the president might have over the selection of these individuals as sketchy at best. However, Mr. Lee’s worries have indeed manifested themselves much as he predicted. Today, we have a Democrat controlled senate prepared to do any and everything necessary to protect the tyrant who sits as president. They fall all over themselves to effect his socialist elitist policies. All to the detriment of the people, even those he ostensibly wants to help. Addicting one to the public teat is hardly to be considered as help.  Mr. Lee continues…

“We have seen with what cunning the power of impeachment is apparently given to the representatives of the people, but really to the senate, since, they advise these measures of government, which experience has shewn, are the general matters of impunity the executive officers will be sure of impeachment when they act in conformity to their will. Impeachment will therefore have no terrors, but for those who displease or oppose the senate.”

In other words, no matter how arrogant, elitist, self-serving or even criminal the president might be, as long as he or she has the will and backing of the senate they shall not fear the wrath of the people in the form of impeachment. Impeachment (indictment) by the people’s representatives rings hollow with no chance of conviction for crimes committed against the people.

In light of today’s situation, perhaps Mr. Lee and others of the same school of thought may have been on to something. While he and his friends might have been considered as anti-federalists in the time, it would appear to me that they were merely being prudent and wise.  It would also appear that the federal government has indeed turned into an essentially hostile and uncontrolled juggernaut bent on the destruction of liberty and prosperity. And we gave it all away through apathy and inattention. Shame on us. Do we deserve the efforts of those who would try to turn it all around? Probably not. But because they are who they are, they will try none the less. God bless them for their efforts.

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