Anti-Federalist 1: Let the People Participate in the Debate  

Monday, April 21, 2008

I have for some time considered bringing forth some of the arguments regarding the Constitution and its weaknesses, as seen by those who foresaw the abuses that eventually would take place. It's pretty scary that people could see these things coming so far in advance.

Antifederalist No. 1

A Dangerous Plan of Benefit Only to the Aristocratick Combination

From The Boston Gazette and Country Journal, November 26, 1787.

I am pleased to see a spirit of inquiry burst the band of constraint upon the subject of the NEW PLAN for consolidating the governments of the United States, as recommended by the late Convention. If it is suitable to the GENIUS and HABITS of the citizens of these states, it will bear the strictest scrutiny. The PEOPLE are the grand inquest who have a RIGHT to judge of its merits.
Wow, substitute the word "healthcare", and you'd think we were listening to Rush Limbaugh. Those who were against ratification were so because the Constitution gave the federal government TOO MUCH power, in their opinion. If only they could have seen just how right they were to argue against this.
The hideous daemon of Aristocracy has hitherto had so much influence as to bar the channels of investigation, preclude the people from inquiry and extinguish every spark of liberal information of its qualities. At length the luminary of intelligence begins to beam its effulgent rays upon this important production; the deceptive mists cast before the eyes of the people by the delusive machinations of its INTERESTED advocates begins to dissipate, as darkness flies before the burning taper; and I dare venture to predict, that in spite of those mercenary dectaimers, the plan will have a candid and complete examination. Those furious zealots who are for cramming it down the throats of the people, without allowing them either time or opportunity to scan or weigh it in the balance of their understandings, bear the same marks in their features as those who have been long wishing to erect an aristocracy in THIS COMMONWEALTH [of Massachusetts]. Their menacing cry is for a RIGID government, it matters little to them of what kind, provided it answers THAT description.
Those in the aristocracy, or in our case the government ruling class, just go and do whatever the hell they feel like these days without even checking to see whether the Constitution authorizes their actions. The government aristocracy is, in its own eyes, all-powerful, and frankly doesn't want a debate about whether or not it should be involved in our lives, but rather how much or in what way. They expect the "sheeple" to assume that the government is the answer to everything, even though it's been a proven failure at just about everything the Republicrats get their grimy paws into.
As the plan now offered comes something near their wishes, and is the most consonant to their views of any they can hope for, they come boldly forward and DEMAND its adoption. They brand with infamy every man who is not as determined and zealous in its favor as themselves. They cry aloud the whole must be swallowed or none at all, thinking thereby to preclude any amendment; they are afraid of having it abated of its present RIGID aspect. They have strived to overawe or seduce printers to stifle and obstruct a free discussion, and have endeavored to hasten it to a decision before the people can duty reflect upon its properties. In order to deceive them, they incessantly declare that none can discover any defect in the system but bankrupts who wish no government, and officers of the present government who fear to lose a part of their power.
They brand with infamy every man who is not as determined and zealous in its favor as themselves. Wow. This sounds like the Democratic Party's playbook in a nutshell. The Republicans just take it without fighting back. Losers. Healthcare, education, gun control, environmentalism, the Fairness Doctrine. You name it, the Democrats have screwed it up and blamed Republicans - and without consequence. And now the Republicans have simply joined the Democrats by nominating one of them for the presidency. And they expect me to just vote that way? HA! Not going to happen, Sammy.
These zealous partisans may injure their own cause, and endanger the public tranquility by impeding a proper inquiry; the people may suspect the WHOLE to be a dangerous plan, from such COVERED and DESIGNING schemes to enforce it upon them. Compulsive or treacherous measures to establish any government whatever, will always excite jealousy among a free people: better remain single and alone, than blindly adopt whatever a few individuals shall demand, be they ever so wise. I had rather be a free citizen of the small republic of Massachusetts, than an oppressed subject of the great American empire. Let all act understandingly or not at all.
By impeding proper inquiry into the activities of the federal government over the last one hundred or so years, both Democrats and Republicans have contributed to the present crisis in America today. Who could describe the government today as anything other than compulsive? Talk about blindly adopting whatever a few individuals shall demand, especially when those individuals are liberal Democrats and Republicans. Oppressed subjects of the great American empire, indeed. Did this guy have a crystal ball or something?
If we can confederate upon terms that wilt secure to us our liberties, it is an object highly desirable, because of its additional security to the whole. If the proposed plan proves such an one, I hope it will be adopted, but if it will endanger our liberties as it stands, let it be amended; in order to which it must and ought to be open to inspection and free inquiry. The inundation of abuse that has been thrown out upon the heads of those who have had any doubts of its universal good qualities, have been so redundant, that it may not be improper to scan the characters of its most strenuous advocates.
Well you can see he was right in his concern about liberties being secured; that's for sure - and who has been abused in this country more than those who dare question the potential or the motives behind the liberal cause du jour? Change a word here and there, and this could have been written today.
It will first be allowed that many undesigning citizens may wish its adoption from the best motives, but these are modest and silent, when compared to the greater number, who endeavor to suppress all attempts for investigation. These violent partisans are for having the people gulp down the gilded pill blindfolded, whole, and without any qualification whatever. These consist generally, of the NOBLE order of C[incinnatu]s, holders of public securities, men of great wealth and expectations of public office, B[an]k[er]s and L[aw]y[er]s: these with their train of dependents form the Aristocratick combination.
All of these examples today are in the pockets of big government, and vice versa. Again, concern has turned into prophecy, and prophecy into reality.
The Lawyers in particular, keep up an incessant declamation for its adoption; like greedy gudgeons they long to satiate their voracious stomachs with the golden bait. The numerous tribunals to be erected by the new plan of consolidated empire, will find employment for ten times their present numbers; these are the LOAVES AND FISHES for which they hunger. They will probably find it suited to THEIR HABITS, if not to the HABITS OF THE PEOPLE. There may be reasons for having but few of them in the State Convention, lest THEIR INTEREST should be too strongly considered.
And, in fact, we have lawyers for all occasions in America today, and far too many of them ambulance-chasers.
The time draws near for the choice of Delegates. I hope my fellow-citizens will look well to the characters of their preference, and remember the Old Patriots of 75; they have never led them astray, nor need they fear to try them on this momentous occasion.

An interesting closing: A Federalist.

Even Federalists, who supported ratification, had major concerns with the Constitution. Fine, it was the greatest thing to happen to free people to date, but it did have flaws that eventually were made to serve evil people.

There are no more evil people available for the office today than the three Democrats running in the Democratic and Republican Parties. The Republicans have failed to take advantage of the Democrats' weakness and placed not only their weakest possible candidate onto the ballot, but have even gone to the extreme of nominating a man who is, for all intents and purposes, a Democrat.

Eighteenth-century Americans worked hard trying to minimize the effects of evil in the Constitution. We have seen that many of their warnings were not effectively addressed. Those we elect to office must, at a minimum, rein in the abuses of government in all branches and at all levels. From there, the concerns of the Anti-Federalists and today's Federalists can be addressed with clear minds and hearts. To fail to do so, or to do otherwise, would be to deliberately bring them dishonor.