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Populist #7

Constitutional Democracy as a Protection against Internal Hostilities - continued
Read Previous Papers here

The establishment of a Constitutional Democracy in America, with the Bill of Rights serving to protect the liberty and freedom of all citizens, will give the most effective protection against those internal hostilities that pose the greatest threat to us today and in the future. 

It was shown in the previous number of these papers that internal hostilities include not only overt acts of violence, but also those acts which antagonize the people, or incite resistance or violence.  Thus, the greatest internal threats we face going forward are three; hostility between the states, sovereignty issues, and legislative and judicial tyranny.  It is through the establishment of a Constitutional Democracy, by which I mean a system of government where the final authority over legislation rests in the hands of the people themselves, that the potential for such hostilities will be reduced.  Our current republican federal structure has been effective in protecting us from hostilities of the former kind, but deficient as a protector against the latter two.  History has shown us that it is in the nature of the system of a republic itself to be insufficient as a guarantor of security against most, if not all, such hostilities.  It is impossible to read through the histories of the most celebrated republics of the world without experiencing feelings of alarm and repugnance at the internal hostilities with which the people were continually agitated, and at the near-perpetual litany of revolutions and oppressions of the people's liberty, which kept them in an eternal state of fluctuation between the polar opposites of tyranny and anarchy.

The republics of Greece existed in an almost constant state of internal war.  The Roman republic, as well as those in Venice, Carthage, and even Holland, while advancing their imperial aims with endless foreign wars, oppressed many of their citizens internally.  In more recent history, republics in France and later in Germany, led to such a consolidation of power, that tyrannical dictatorships emerged, which both oppressed their own citizens, and extended their internal evils to great portions of the world by waging wars of conquest. 

Even in the history of our own United States, where the representatives of the people comprise one branch of the Congress, these horrors have not been reduced or eliminated.  An entire race of people was nearly eviscerated, and another was first enslaved and then oppressed for more than a century.  The federal government has engaged in war more often than most nations in history.  Throughout the past one hundred years, the federal government, through small increments, has increased and consolidated its power at the expense of the people's liberty, and has damaged the sovereign integrity of our nation.  Liberty has been attacked with the passage of legislation such as the patriot act and the real id act.  Sovereignty has been threatened due to the federal government's refusal to protect our borders, and through the passage of international agreements, such as NAFTA and WTO, that supercede the power of the people's representatives in Congress. 

We have often heard rhetoric and fiery speeches from both ruling political parties, promising to protect us, ensure our liberty, and advance our prosperity. Has either party fulfilled such promises?  Has the structure of the republic protected us from racial murder, slavery, attacks on our liberty, open borders, foreign wars, and the like?  Let experience, the least fallible advisor that we have available, be called upon to give us wisdom when answering these questions. 

Experience has shown us that although much of the rhetoric from the ruling parties is different, both political parties have consistently supported, in unison, legislation that reduces our security and prosperity, and directly attacks our liberty.  It is the system of the republic itself that has kept the people at large as mere spectators in our country's governmental processes, rather than as active participants.  We have often been directed to focus our attention on other concerns so we don't "interfere" with policy formation.  The solution to these problems arises not from support for either ruling political party, since they both strive to keep the status quo; but rather, it comes from a change in the system which has allowed these hostile acts to occur.  Have we not already seen enough of the recklessness and deceit from both the political left and the political right, who have charmed us with promises of immunity from the imperfections, weaknesses, and evils inherent in society and government?  Is it not time to wake up from this delusional dream of a perfect national life, and to embrace as a realistic maxim for the direction of our political administration that we are still far from achieving the status of a happy empire of perfect policy and perfect character?

The utility of a democracy to safeguard security both internally and externally, as well as to protect the liberty of a nation's citizens is in reality not a new idea.  The experience of the nation of Switzerland is quite instructive.  Switzerland, which was a poor, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, disputatious country without natural resources, decided 140 years ago to adopt a new constitution that brought the people directly into the operation of government as lawmakers.  Even the celebrated Alexis de Tocqueville had serious doubts that this experiment in direct democracy would actually be effective.  The result is without precedent in human history, as Switzerland has matured into one of the most successfully governed and wealthiest nations in the world. 

We must also consider the history of our own States which have Initiative and Referendum laws.  Although limited in their access and sphere of influence, it has been conclusively demonstrated in the century which such laws have existed, that We the People will enact laws that serve and protect ourselves as a whole rather than the powerful special interests that are currently served by our elected legislatures.

The wise people of this nation hold peace and prosperity in equally high regards, as it is a widely accepted maxim that an increase in one tends to bring an increase in the other; and they have seen that representation alone in the federal government cannot protect us from an overbearing and tyrannical government.  Direct citizen involvement in government affairs is the final and absolute check and balance on the power of the federal authority, and it can effectively prevent it from acting in ways harmful to our well-being and happiness.  Changing our system of government is not something that should be considered lightly, but when looking at our own situation, let the level of extreme decline  to which our national dignity and credit have sunk, let the inconvenience felt everywhere from an overbearing and detrimental administration of government, let the legislation which has violated our Bill of Rights, let the foreign wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and those yet to come, declare that it is not only those in charge, but the system itself that must be changed to bring us back from these depths! 

As some of our greatest friends of liberty once said:

"Unless the mass retains sufficient control over those entrusted with the powers of their government, these will be perverted to their own oppression, and to the perpetuation of wealth and power in the individuals and their families selected for the trust." [1]

"Each generation has a right to choose for itself the form of government it believes most promotive of its happiness." [2]

"The basis of our political system is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government." [3]

"All power is originally in the People and should be exercised by them in person, if that could be done with convenience, or even with little difficulty." [4]

I have thought it proper to quote at length these interesting passages, because they contain a lucid abstract of the main arguments in favor of a Constitutional Democracy, and effectively counter many of the false impressions which a misapplication of other related statements has produced.  They have, at the same time, an elemental connection with the overall intention of this series of papers, which is to illustrate the utility, necessity and the inherent right of the people to self-governance.

I will continue this discussion on the benefit and necessity of changing our system of government to that of a Constitutional Democracy in my next paper on July 28, 2005.

In the spirit of liberty and prosperity,


[1] Thomas Jefferson (Author of the Declaration of Independence)
[2] Thomas Jefferson
[3] George Washington (America's first President)
[4] James Wilson (Co-Signer of the U.S. Constitution, former Supreme Court Justice)


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