AN UNLIKELY PROPOSITION
During the debates (Federalists and Anti-Federalist papers) over the ratification of the Constitution, the Anti-Federalists highlighted several key areas where they felt the language in the proposed Constitution did not adequately prevent the new central government from becoming as tyrannical as the monarchy they had just defeated. Among their concerns was the possibility that the new central government could someday create a standing army that would eventually roam and patrol our streets and harass our citizens.
During those debates Alexander Hamilton attempted to alleviate those fears by reminding the people that in order to create a standing army like the one they had just defeated, it would require a massive budget that could never be achieved. Relying on the power of the purse (Article 1 sec 7) and the safeguards provided by the state legislatures appointing in the House every 2 years new representatives who would have complete control over the purse, Hamilton was certain that no such threat could possibly exist; the people would surely never approve of votes for big spending! After all, the people would surely never turn over control of their Representatives by surrendering state recall. And above all else, the people would always maintain a militia.
“Schemes to subvert the liberties of a great community REQUIRE TIME to mature them for execution. An army, so large as seriously to menace those liberties, could only be formed by progressive augmentations; which would suppose, not merely a temporary combination between the legislature and executive, but a continued conspiracy for a series of time. Is it probable that such a combination would exist at all? Is it probable that it would be persevered in, and transmitted along through all the successive variations in a representative body, which biennial elections would naturally produce in both houses? Is it presumable, that every man, the instant he took his seat in the national Senate or House of Representatives, would commence a traitor to his constituents and to his country? Can it be supposed that there would not be found one man, discerning enough to detect so atrocious a conspiracy, or bold or honest enough to apprise his constituents of their danger?”
Hamilton believed such a plan would require a great conspiracy that could never be achieved. Every newly elected representative, after discovering such a plan would never stand for it and would certainly alert their constituents. Although Hamilton naïvely believed something like this could never happen in this enlightened day, he tells us exactly what we should do if one day we found ourselves with a standing army roaming our streets, violating our Liberty.
“If such presumptions can fairly be made, there ought at once to be an end of all delegated authority. The people should resolve to recall all the powers they have heretofore parted with out of their own hands, and to divide themselves into as many States as there are counties, in order that they may be able to manage their own concerns in person.”
Notice he said IF… IF SUCH PRESUMPTIONS CAN FAIRLY BE MADE… there ought to at once be an end of ALL DELEGATED AUTHORITY. Have we fulfilled the IF?
Today the central behemoth and its rabid agencies are handing out retired weapons of war like candy to our local Sheriff’s Department and training and certifying what used to be Peace Officers as dual agents of State and Federal Law Enforcement. Are we seeing the anti-federalist’s warning
becoming a reality?
Remember Hamilton’s precaution that it would require massive spending to provide for such a conspiracy? I’m sure even the “big government, big spending” Hamilton could not have imagined a 17 trillion dollar debt. I’m certain Hamilton would never believe that the people would be willing to support Congressmen that would go along with such a despotism in order to “preserve the party.” What about preserving the Republic?
Hamilton for his part appears unable to imagne that a people, who lived through a tyranny that forced them to separate from their native country would ever become so detached from reality, ignorant of Liberty, and negligent of their responsibilities to maintain the Republic to allow such a standing army to overcome them. He speaks of massive deception, spread over a long period of time that would be necessary for this kind of standing army to overtake the people again. His disbelief that this would ever be possible is like a cloud of shame engulfing this entire union.
“If such suppositions could even be reasonably made, still the concealment of the design, for any duration, would be impracticable. It would be announced, by the very circumstance of augmenting the army to so great an extent in time of profound peace. What colorable reason could be assigned, in a country so situated, for such vast augmentations of the military force? It is impossible that the people could be long deceived; and the destruction of the project, and of the projectors, would quickly follow the discovery.”
Hamilton is still in disbelief that this kind of “standing army” could ever exist in the Constitutional Republic they were creating. The level of collusion between the executive and the legislative could only be achieved if the people themselves became inattentive and complacent at that very same time; something that Hamilton thought could never happen with a people who were not subjects to a king. I think even the supposed big government Hamilton would be crying, “God have mercy on us for our ignorance.”
There is only one way all of this could happen Hamilton, explains…
“But it is an evil infinitely less likely to attend us in a united than in a disunited state…it is not easy to conceive a possibility that dangers so formidable can assail the whole Union, as to demand a force considerable enough to place our liberties in the least jeopardy, especially if we take into our view the aid to be derived from the militia, which ought always to be counted upon as a valuable and powerful auxiliary. But in a state of disunion (as has been fully shown in another place), the contrary of this supposition would become not only probable, but almost unavoidable.”
In a nation full of calamities, division, and a people ruled over, forces the “unavoidable” conclusion. Hamilton would likely have a difficult time managing a President and Attorney General who have spent the better part of two terms incessantly stirring up division. He likely could not have imagined a time with more calamity and unrest outside of the Revolutionary war. To top it all off we turned over state control of the federal Representatives around 1913 (not to mention the nation’s currency) and we have utterly dissolved the militias.
WORK TO BE DONE
As brilliant and prescient as our founders were, I am not sure they could have ever fully imagined the level of ignorance and apathy that we would reach in such a short time. We must attack this ignorance with education. We must secure our communities with Constitutional Sheriffs. We need to restore the state militias. We must elect Representatives who hold to first principles. We must reach this generation and rescue the next. I will leave Alexander Hamilton with the final word…
“Is it not better, I ask, to suffer a few present inconveniences, than to put yourselves in the way of losing every thing that is precious? Your lives, your property, your religion, are all at stake. I do my duty. I warn you of your danger. If you should still be so mad as to bring destruction upon yourselves; if you still neglect what you owe to God and man, you cannot plead ignorance in your excuse. Your consciences will reproach you for your folly; and your children’s children will curse you.”