Skip to comments.John Adams on Aristocracy, Democracy, and Tyranny
Posted on 12/21/2016 1:53:34 AM PST by Jacquerie
My previous posts regarding repeal of the horrid 17th Amendment were built on a simple republican foundation; members of republics are represented in the lawmaking body. The Constitution acts on the people and states, and both had their place in congress until 1913. In its wake, the 17th Amendment left behind a federal Constitution without a federal government.
Here, I take a different tack as to why the 17A must go. I will show from the standpoint of balancing society's natural proclivities, we must reestablish a federal senate of the states. Without a strong middle institution to repel democracy, the people grow in power. In time, they appoint a leader who uses the people to establish tyranny. My reference is John Adams 1787 (Vol. I) A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, Letters XXIV and XXV.
The opening half of Volume I explored the historic battles for dominance between the one, the few, and the many in various monarchies, aristocracies, and republics since ancient times. Free government principles were known since the reign of Darius, as were the pro/con of representative vs. direct democracy since Lycurgus. [pages II, III] Various mixtures of these simple forms were met with greater success by the Romans. Central to the lessons learned from the Roman Republic, and reflected in subsequent nations from Venice to isolated Swiss cantons, to England, was the necessity of a solid middle institution, a senate, a council, a House of Lords to balance the interests between the mass of the people and chief executive, whether he be a King, Stadholder, Burgomaster, or Doge.
From his study, Adams wrote, Without three orders, and an effectual balance between them, in every American constitution, it must be destined to frequent unavoidable revolutions; if
(Excerpt) Read more at articlevblog.com ...
Article V ping!
Great post, Jacquerie. Thanks.
Victims of Lawful Plunder
Men naturally rebel against the injustice of which they are victims. Thus, when plunder is organized by law for the profit of those who make the law, all the plundered classes try somehow to enter by peaceful or revolutionary means into the making of laws. According to their degree of enlightenment, these plundered classes may propose one of two entirely different purposes when they attempt to attain political power: Either they may wish to stop lawful plunder, or they may wish to share in it.
Woe to the nation when this latter purpose prevails among the mass victims of lawful plunder when they, in turn, seize the power to make laws! Until that happens, the few practice lawful plunder upon the many, a common practice where the right to participate in the making of law is limited to a few persons. But then, participation in the making of law becomes universal. And then, men seek to balance their conflicting interests by universal plunder. Instead of rooting out the injustices found in society, they make these injustices general. As soon as the plundered classes gain political power, they establish a system of reprisals against other classes. They do not abolish legal plunder. (This objective would demand more enlightenment than they possess.) Instead, they emulate their evil predecessors by participating in this legal plunder, even though it is against their own interests.
It is as if it were necessary, before a reign of justice appears, for everyone to suffer a cruel retribution some for their evilness, and some for their lack of understanding.
“The Law” - Frederic Bastiat
Eyes on the future (post Trump) to avoid another Barack, Hillary, Unipartarian.
We, as a nation, need desperately to regain control of our federal government..!! Rescinding the 17th. and getting our senators back under control of the individual states would be a great start....MHO
We shall learn to prize the checks and balances of a free government, and even those of the modern aristocracies, if we recollect the miseries of Greece which arose from their ignorance of them. The only balance attempted against the ancient kings was a body of nobles; and the consequences were perpetual altercations of rebellion and tyranny, and butcheries of thousands upon every revolution from one to the other. When the kings were abolished, the aristocracies tyrannized; and then no balance was attempted but between aristocracy and democracy. This, in the nature of things, could be no balance at all, and therefore the pendulum was for ever on the swing. It is impossible to read in Thucydides, lib. iii. his account of the factions and confusions throughout all Greece, which were introduced by this want of an equilibrium, without horror. During the few days that Eurymedon, with his troops, continued at Corcyra, the people of that city extended the massacre to all whom they judged their enemies. The crime alleged was, their attempt to overturn the democracy. Some perished merely through private enmity; some, for the money they had lent, by the hands of the borrower. Every kind of death, every dreadful act, was perpetrated. Fathers slew their children; some were dragged from altars, some were butchered at them; numbers, immersed in temples, were starved. The contagion spread through the whole extent of Greece: factions raged in every city; the licentious many contending for the Athenians, and the aspiring few for the Lacedæmonians. The consequence was, seditions in cities, with all their numerous and tragical incidents. Such things ever will be, says Thucydides, so long as human nature continues the same. But if this nervous historian had known a balance of three powers, he would not have pronounced the distemper so incurable, but would have added so long as parties in cities remain unbalanced.
While there are those that say everything Øbama has done Trump can undo, you cannot get all the toothpaste back into a tube. Trump cannot unkill folks killed due to Øbama, cannot unspend the stupid expenditures.
Similarly, undoing the 17th is somewhat getting toothpaste back into the tube. We here can agree on many rationales that the 17th is bad for the Republic, but we here also have a depth to those rationales. To get that depth to the 33/38 or so state’s COS delegations is one thing, much harder to the ratifying states, but still much harder for the underlying support needed there: To convince enough of the populace to vote for state reps and state senators that would move thru an anti-17th-amendment-amendment.
Nevertheless, there is that expression “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”, and we’ve taken a few already...
It was not by accident that the founders set things up so that the four bodies which make up the three branches of our republican government were each chosen by a different method.
President - Executive - Electoral College
Senate - Legislative - Appointed by State legislatures
House - Legislative - Direct popular vote.
Courts - Judicial - Appointed by President with Consent of Senate
The 17th Amendment was a mistake, and it continues to endanger our republic.
Nice Summary. No system on earth is perfect, but they were on the right track. I believe Mark Levin’s Amendments to super-federalize the government and diffuse power across the states are necessary to complete what the Framers started.
It grinds me, with the lessons of history at our fingertips, so few are willing to consult them.
Excellent article once again. This particular article gets right to the crux of the matter IMHO.
As I came upon the Article V issue this became the bedrock issue that I see we need to tackle. My original concern was bringing Congress to task for ignoring electoral mandates in many past elections. There have been numerous issues both Senators and Representatives have run upon and immediately abandonded or not been able to find support for. Term limits, balanced budgets, fair tax, defense of marriage, stopping illegal immigration, the list goes on and on. As I read looking for solutions which I could support from my grassroots level it became clear to me that the best first priority was to correct the historical error of the 17th Amendment.
The 17th Amendment is not the ONLY issue we need to address at an Article V Convention but it gets to the root of many current problems and would be a great first step toward correcting some of the Legislative blunders of the past century.
The rights of states were a tricky issue to bring up in 1913 as the civil war was still front and center in the minds of people. “States rights” was a phrase used by the losing side in that war. We still fight the war here on FR from time to time so imagine people in 1912-13 trying to use the argument of states rights to counter the passing of the 17th Amendment.
Furthermore, at that time in history, Marxism was the new, up and coming concept. True democracy is how Marxism was showcased. Socialists were chomping at the bit to use any tool available to implement a socialist regime in every country. Passing the 17th Amendment put us one step closer to their Marxist ideal by dismantling our Republic. We pride ourselves on being a Republic, not a democracy. We proudly repeat the anecdote of Ben Franklin’s reply that we have “a Republic if you can keep it.” But we didn’t keep it. We’ve been a Democratic Republic since 1913 when that infernal 17th Amendment was passed.
Passing an amendment repealing the 17th Amendment does not fix everything. But, it would give the States back their power within the federal government. It could give teeth to the 10th Amendment if we would use it. Our Senate is no more than a mini-house of representatives now. Our States have ZERO power of their own in our Federal arena. Let’s get behind this and repeal the 17th Amendment and restore our Republic.
In addition to the 17th Amendment, we also need to repeal the 16th Amendment, allowing for direct taxation of income,thereby making serfs of us all. And last but not least, we need to revoke the House Rule from 1928 limiting House membership to 435.
The Constitution says there may not be more than 1 representative for every 30,000 citizens. Since 1928, the ratio of House members to citizens has waned to 710,000 to 1, thereby emasculating the citizenry as effectively as the 17th Amendment emasculated the States.
All three must be undone to restore the macro checks and balances among the Federal Government, the States and the People.
Superb. States were not very well-regarded in the 1780s either. Many blamed the states for the condition of the nation. More than one delegate to the federal convention would have done away with them. Fortunately, cooler heads realized our woes were due to the structure of the Articles of Confederation.
Off topic next. IIRC, some eleven states have jumped aboard the pernicious National Popular Vote movement. The Left knows what it is doing; ever more democracy is an invitation to tyranny.
You bring up a point I decided not to address, due to excessive length already in my post.
Delegates George Mason, and Edmund Randolph didn’t sign the draft Constitution, due in part, because they feared the House of Reps would become an aristocratic institution. Even at 1:30,000, that was too many constituents. Only the better off, and not the common citizen, would have the resources to campaign. Representatives were supposed to be just that, neighbors that most people knew in their community.
The Anti-Federalists back then would freak out at the one to over 720,000 ratio today.
But, how many members can a House of Reps have before it becomes too unwieldly?
Oh, and yes, the 17A’s evil sibling, the 16A must go as well.
The National Popular Vote is the last step in dismantling our Glorious Republic IMO. It is to be fought tooth and nail and if successful would most likely bring on our SHTF revolution. I can’t count the times throughout my life that I’ve explained the need for the Electoral College to friends and coworkers. To be honest, I probably have less formal education than most people here. But, I was an “A” student in high school and community college. I thank God I attended schools where government and the Constitution were actually seriously taught so that I learned the rudiments of why our government is formed as it is.
Unfortunately the marxists have taken over our news media and fail to educate the general public on the consequences of things like the popular vote. Because almost everyone in the US is proud of “their state,” I can’t imagine anyone truly embracing a system where their state isn’t represented. That seems to be an area whereby we can appeal to anyone NOT in California or New York to keep the Electoral College. Same reasoning on the 17th Amendment. It isn’t the basic reason for these arguments but state vanity is at least a starting point for discussion with the uninformed. Sadly, most people don’t want to spend the time to be informed :(
Seems to me the vanity approach works well on way too many of us. (As a woman I can’t exclude myself) But we use what tools we can and it can sure get attention focused where it needs to be ;)
The alignment of personal and public interests is a good thing.
Thank you for your reply. Actually, there is a simple solution to the size of the House. Either at one blow or progressively, divide up the current districts by an odd number, until we achieve a ratio of about 100,000:1.
Right now, that would be about 7x the number of Representatives and I believe that with modern technology, it would be possible for a citizen statesman/woman to communicate effectively with that many neighbors.
The Representatives for each supra-district (composed of the 7 subdivisions) would elect among themselves a “Speaker of the District”. That individual would operate in D.C. The rest would reside in their home districts and participate in debates and voting electronically. They would submit their votes to the Speaker of the District. When the roll is called, the Speaker would announce the number of ayes, nays and abstentions from his supra-district.
This arrangement would have 2 additional bonuses. Right now, all of our Reps reside in D.C. most of the year where lobbyists and special interests have 24/7 access to them most of the year and We the People do not. It would be nearly impossible for lobbyists to go to all of the Reps in their home districts to influence them.
It would also preclude back door deals. The Speaker of the District could not speak for the other Representatives.
There may be better ways to address the logistics, but this is clearly workable and economic. The salaries could be reduced dramatically and the Speakers, residing in D.C. could be given a per diem to cover the cost of maintaining 2 residences.
The Constitution only says that the House must all meet in Washington, D.C. once per year and there is no time limit or requirement. They could all meet in D.C. for a few days or a week each year. There are adequate hotel accommodations to permit this. There is no prohibition of Representatives conducting business from their districts, even though the possibility at the time did not exist.
Maybe, we could eventually reduce the number of days that the House is in session much like the Texas legislature.
As always, Jacquerie, an excellent treatise.
I would only add the following, that the Founders gave the Senate the exclusive power to approve US Supreme Court appointments.
Thus, in the Framers vision, the states, through their Senators, were the final arbiters of who was to determine which laws were constitutional and which ones were not. Removing the check of the state legislatures from the votes of their Senators during SCOTUS confirmation hearings stripped the states of their power to have a voice in the process and left it entirely in the hands of one branch of the federal government, the U.S. Senate.
The Seventeenth Amendment has not only taken from the people in the states and their legislators the power to immediately determine and control their own representation in the Senate, but it provides a wall of separation and protection from redress to a branch of the federal government, the U.S. Senate, one a privilege and the other a power, neither of which the Founders ever intended nor would consent to today.
Congress will never repeal the Seventeenth... it’s left to us, the people in the states. To add your voice to the call for a Convention of States, sign this petition ==> http://www.cosaction.com/?recruiter_id=2348
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