Saturday, February 03, 2007

Losing Trust in the American Government.. is nothing new.

If you've lost trust in the Government from Watergate and beyond, then you've been misinformed of the ills of our Government from the many years before that. Not unlike 'democratic' Governments of Ancient Greece and Rome, our United States government has not earned the trust of the American people from day one.

Let's begin with the original writing of the Constitution. The original constitution left a lot to be desired as far as human rights were concerned. The main articles of the constitution did a good job explaining the legislative process but didn't quite complete the job with the inclusion of the rights of the people.

The 'Elastic Clause' as it has come to be named, leaves an open door for the Legislative Branch to do whatever they'd like as long as the deem it 'necessary and proper'. Which is a phrase, much like the rest of the Constitution, that is ambiguous and can be interpreted many different ways.

Article 1, Section 8, Clause 18, states:

"The Congress shall have the Power... ...To make all laws which shall be
necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all
other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States,
or in any Department or Office thereof."

In other words, if it is NOT written in the constitution, then congress can decide what should be written there if they consider "necessary and proper" for that given moment. Put frankly, it left the door open for them to fill in the blanks.

The second way our original Constitution was not to be trusted was with the absence of our individual rights. The constitution gave plenty of rights to the government, namely the Congress, the Courts and the Executive Branch, but didn't list ANY right of the citizens. Many states would not ratify the constitution for this reason. The authors of the famous Federalist Papers were in favor of this 'big government' and were persuading the public to support the new Constitution.

Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, just might be the first politicians to try and pull the wool over our heads. Their Federalist Papers tried to convince t he public to ratify the Constitution, as is. But many anti-federalists demanded that individual rights be included in the new constitution, and they were.

Thus, the first 10 Amendments, or changes were made to the Constitution. The Bill of Rights serve as a reminder that the Government can't get away with everything. Had nobody fought for our rights in the 1787 and 1788, when the Constitution was being debated, then our world would be entirely different.

Thank you Thomas Paine!

The list of Government mistrust goes on and on. We could talk about Andrew Jackson and his spoils system, the Election of 1824, the corrupt Presidencies of U.S. Grant and James Garfield, or any politician during the Gilded Age. But I think the strongest argument can be said for the precedent set by the Constitution and its original inability to provide for the common good of all men.

PS. Despite my accusations of the authors of the Federalist Papers, I think the views of all the founding fathers were instrumental in creating our great democracy. Incidentally, Alexander Hamilton is one of my favorite 'fathers' for his efforts with the banking system and the economy.

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