“An Old Whig” Saw Where We Were Headed
December 23, 2010 by Bob Livingston
The Founders envisioned a nation with a Federal government that had limited authority, weakened by its division into three branches: legislative, executive and judicial. They believed that the weaker and more inefficient Federal government was the greater would be liberty and freedom.
In Federalist No. 45, James Madison wrote:
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.
Of course, that vision was soon lost in a Supreme Court that was packed with progressives — yes, they existed even in the 18th Century as followers of Jean-Jacques Rousseau — by John Adams and a Congress that followed the natural progression of man. For, as Lord John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
For each law that it passed that exceeded its authority and that either went unchallenged or, if challenged, was upheld by the Supreme Court, Rousseau socialists in Congress sought to pass two more.
The result has been a creep of growing socialism — accelerated by President Woodrow Wilson — which finally climaxed with the passage of Obamacare in 2010. Even though a majority of Americans opposed the bill, Rousseau socialists rammed it through anyway; telling Americans it was for their own good and they would like it once they understood it.
Of course, Americans understood it perfectly, and that is why they objected.
As the 111th Congress winds down, its leaders continue to try and force Rousseau socialism upon us. Unfortunately many Republicans, and many Americans for that matter, have fallen into the trap of Rousseau socialism. They seek to make government more efficient and have it care for the needs of all. The result is the loss of liberty under an increasingly strong Federal government and the loss of state sovereignty.
There were some who saw this coming. In AntiFederalist No. 46, an unknown writer who called himself “An Old Whig” warned about where the nation was headed based upon his understanding of the proposed (at that time) Constitution and his experience with and understanding of government. In writing about the last paragraph in Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, he said:
My object is to consider that undefined, unbounded and immense power which is comprised in the following clause — "And 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 offices thereof." Under such a clause as this, can anything be said to be reserved and kept back from Congress? Can it be said that the Congress have no power but what is expressed? "To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper" — or, in other words, to make all such laws which the Congress shall think necessary and proper — for who shalt judge for the legislature what is necessary and proper? Who shall set themselves above the sovereign? What inferior legislature shall set itself above the supreme legislature? To me it appears that no other power on earth can dictate to them, or control them, unless by force; and force, either internal or external, is one of those calamities which every good man would wish his country at all times to be delivered from. This generation in America have seen enough of war, and its usual concomitants, to prevent all of us from wishing to see any more of it — all except those who make a trade of war. But to the question — without force what can restrain the Congress from making such laws as they please? What limits are there to their authority? I fear none at all. For surely it cannot be justly said that they have no power but what is expressly given to them, when by the very terms of their creation they are vested with the powers of making laws in all cases — necessary and proper; when from the nature of their power, they must necessarily be the judges what laws are necessary and proper.
The Old Whig was quite prescient.