Monday, March 22, 2010

Resurrect the Principles of '98

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March 22, 2010 by Bob Livingston

For 15 months there has been a growing opposition to the increasing encroachment of the Federal government over the rights of its citizens. It finally reached a crescendo last week as the House worked to steamroll Obamacare through despite objections by the vast majority of the electorate.

The past 12 months have been extremely frustrating for many. People voiced their opposition to Obamacare, Cap and Trade and stimulus bills to their Representatives and Senators, but it seemed that most of their opposition fell on deaf ears.

The Tea Parties were formed, and the shouting grew louder. Many of the elected class who were supporting the growing government—both Democrats and Republicans—found their town hall meetings to be unpleasant places to be.

But still, government grew and spending increased… and the march to Obamacare continued.

Deciding that their voices weren’t being heard and their marches on Washington were being ignored, voters wanting smaller government and a return to Constitutional principals voted in droves. The results were upsets in New Jersey, Virginia and finally, in Massachusetts. The election of Republican Scott Brown to the late Ted Kennedy’s senate seat seemed to end the threat of Obamacare by eliminating the Democrats’ filibuster-proof majority.
Supporters of small government and Tea Party activists breathed a sigh of relief. But, despite President Obama’s promise to focus on jobs, Obamacare didn’t die. It continued to fester and so the shouting got loud again.

But still the elected class, pushing their socialist agenda and seeking to control us from cradle to grave—seeking to enslave us with unconstitutional mandates—didn’t listen.

Writing in Anti-Federalist letter No. 1, Brutus (Robert Yates) said that in a free republic, all laws are derived from the consent of the people and passed by representatives who are supposed to know the minds of their constituents and possessed of the integrity to declare this mind. Unfortunately, the representatives holding the majority don’t possess this integrity.

So Brutus wrote: “If the people are to give their assent to the laws, by persons chosen and appointed by them, the manner of the choice and the number chosen, must be such, as to possess, be disposed, and consequently qualified to declare the sentiments of the people; for if they do not know, or are not disposed to speak the sentiments of the people, the people do not govern, but the sovereignty is in a few.”

That’s were we are now—with sovereignty in the hands of a few. So now it’s time to take the next step. Fortunately, we have the words and deeds of some of our Founding Fathers to direct us.

Since its beginning the Federal government has sought to grow and even those who took part in the framing of the Constitution have tested it’s parameters by trying to intrude on the rights of Americans.

The second president, John Adams, signed legislation that made it a treasonable activity to publish “any false, scandalous and malicious writing.” This was one of the laws that became part of the Alien and Sedition Acts. As a result, 25 men, most of them Republican supporters of Thomas Jefferson were arrested and their newspapers forced to shut down.

One of those arrested was Benjamin Franklin’s grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache, editor of the Philadelphia Democrat-Republican Aurora.

In response, Jefferson, then the vice president, secretly wrote the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798. In them he argued that the Alien and Sedition Acts were acts of usurpation—that the Federal government had overstepped its bounds and was exercising powers which belonged to the states.

After all, the 10th Amendment states: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

He saw the Constitution not as a document that restrained the people, but as one that restrained the Federal government. And he believed that was a good thing. As an aside: Obama has stated just the opposite. He has said he finds it unfortunate that the Constitution contains the restrictions on Government that it does.

Jefferson corresponded with James Madison (known as the father of the Constitution) about the Kentucky Resolutions and Madison drafted similar Resolutions for Virginia.

Both Kentucky and Virginia adopted the resolutions which essentially said that when the Federal government assumes undelegated powers—those not enumerated in the Constitution—those acts are “unauthoritative, void, and of no force.”

These came to be known as the Principals of ’98.

It’s time to lobby your state representative and state senator and governor and push for a law to prohibit the enforcement of Obamacare and other unconstitutional laws in your state. It’s time to resurrect the Principals of ’98.

Both Virginia and Idaho have voted to sue the Federal government over Obamacare. You must push your state to do the same.

The overreach has gone on for far too long. In addition to Obamacare there is the looming Cap and Trade legislation, there are restrictive gun laws and, under George W. Bush, there was the USA PATRIOT Act and the REAL ID Act (which states have resisted).

Resistance to a tyrannical government is very American. And if the Federal government continues its oppression then it will be time to consider other steps.

Writing to Madison in 1787, Jefferson said, “I hold it that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms are in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people, which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much. It is medicine necessary for the sound health of government.”

And then there is one more step to consider. It was commonly understood prior to 1861 that the states reserved the right to secede. There had been talk of secession by the northern New England states many times. Even Abraham Lincoln, as a representative, recognized the states had the right to secede—he only changed his mind after he held the reins of the presidency.

In 1825, Jefferson wrote: “If every infraction of a compact of so many parties is to be resisted at once as a dissolution, none can ever be formed which would last one year. We must have patience and longer endurance then with our brethren while under delusion; give them time for reflection and experience of consequences; keep ourselves in a situation to profit by the chapter of accidents; and separate from our companions only when the sole alternatives left are the dissolution of our Union with them or submission to a government without limitation of powers. Between these two evils, when we must make a choice, there can be no hesitation. But in the meanwhile, the States should be watchful to note every material usurpation on their rights; to denounce them as they occur in the most peremptory terms; to protest against them as wrongs to which our present submission shall be considered, not as acknowledgments or precedents of right, but as a temporary yielding to the lesser evil, until their accumulation shall overweigh that of separation.”

For too long we have failed in being watchful of every “material usurpation” of our rights. But for the last year at least, we have protested them. And our protests have fallen on deaf ears. Dissolution must be in the back of our minds now. But, we’re not ready for that step… not yet.

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