And Therein Lies The Origin Of Many Of Our Problems: Our Own Ignorance
Today, the federal government has usurped much of the authority our founders had left to and intended to remain with the States, as well as the People. The federal government has been able to get away with doing this for many reasons. Primarily, it is because we, the people, have become lazy and apathetic. We are also greedy. Thus, we willingly vote for people who promise to give us something we haven’t earned and do not deserve. In doing so, we are electing our own masters for the promise of a few crumbs from our neighbor’s table. But it is also because we have become an ignorant people. If only we understood the English language, maybe we would understand that the very word ‘federal’ is a limit on the government.
To demonstrate how wise our founders were, and, at the same time, to show that they were no infallible, we should look at what Patrick Henry had to say about the Constitution before it had been ratified. Upon first reading it, Henry objected to these words:
“I have the highest veneration of those Gentleman, — but, Sir, give me leave to demand, what right had they to say, We, the People? My political curiosity, exclusive of my anxious solicitude for the public welfare, leads me to ask who authorized them to speak the language of, We, the People, instead of We, the States? States are the characteristics, and the soul of the confederation. If the States be not the agents of this compact, it must be one of great consolidated National Government of the people of all the States.”
Henry was rejecting the notion of a national government. At the time, the States would never have passed such a document because the people had a greater allegiance to their State than to the new nation (confederation). Instead, Henry rightly pointed out that the Constitution was formed by an agreement between the States, not the whole people of the nation. And that this means the Constitution gave the federal government authority over the States, but not the people, directly. This is the heart of what federal meant to the founders, and they actually said so. Here, let me prove it to you. We start by looking at the definition of federal:
1archaic : of or relating to a compact or treaty
2a : formed by a compact between political units that surrender their individual sovereignty to a central authority but retain limited residuary powers of government
b : of or constituting a form of government in which power is distributed between a central authority and a number of constituent territorial units
c : of or relating to the central government of a federation as distinguished from the governments of the constituent units
3capitalized : advocating or friendly to the principle of a federal government with strong centralized powers; especially : of or relating to the American Federalists
4often capitalized : of, relating to, or loyal to the federal government or the Union armies of the United States in the American Civil War
5capitalized : being or belonging to a style of architecture and decoration current in the United States following the American Revolution
OK, upon first reading this definition, we see that one possible definition suggests that the States actually surrendered their individual sovereignty when they ratified the Constitution (2a). But another simply states that the States gave ‘most’ of their authority to the Federal government. In fact, that aspect of the definition directly references the American Federalists (as in Federalist Papers, 3). So, how do we know which the founders intended, and whether or not our modern definition remains faithful to that understanding? Simple, we ask the man who wrote the Constitution, James Madison:
“Each State, in ratifying the Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body, independent of all others, and only to be bound by its own voluntary act. In this relation, then, the new Constitution will, if established, be a FEDERAL, and not a NATIONAL constitution”
Now, according to Madison – the man who wrote the Constitution – neither 2a nor 3 of our definition applies to our Federal government. According to Madison, the definition the founders actually intended and understood to be the case when they ratified the constitution is 2c!
: a country formed by separate states that have given certain powers to a central government while keeping control over local matters
And there it is: the Federal government has a master – the individual States. And if you read the State Constitutions, you will find they have masters – the people. This is why our schools do not teach history; why they refuse to teach the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers. They avoid it because, even if they tried to skew it, were they to make our children actually read the Federalist Papers and the Anti-Federalist Papers, our children would understand that the Federal government has no direct authority over them, and only limited authority over their State. If our nation understood what the founders had intended, they would realize that the States have the authority to nullify unconstitutional laws, such as the “Affordable Care Act.” And the State governments would also understand that they are free to exercise that authority over the Federal government. However, the moment the States and their people accept that the Federal government is actually a national government, all of the protections of our liberties that the founders built into our system disappear and it becomes merely a matter of time before a tyrant seizes control over all.
And so it is that history has shown that nearly every objection the Anti-Federalists voiced against the Constitution was valid, and that the explanations and assurances against these inevitabilities offered by the Federalists were wrong.