If you like your Liberty you can keep it

by Craig Masters

Much like the new communistic government of Obama, the Constitution had to be ‘sold’ to the people of the states as a new form of government. But unlike the intentional lies Obama spewed on the people to gain support for his rapid transformation to Communism, many thoughtful arguments and well-meant promises were presented in the newspapers of the 1780′s when the new Constitution to govern the federal government was being created. One of those promises was specified in the Second Amendment. Here is a discussion of why and how that came about.

The people who opposed a strong central government were called anti-federalist.  These people warned against the creation of a powerful central government. They feared the idea of a powerful standing army capable of imposing the will of the central government. They argued that the power to tax was the power to destroy – especially if the government had the power to collect at the point of a gun. They warned about the tyranny of the majority which had destroyed every previous attempt at democracy throughout history.

Each of the anti-central government concerns – especially the citizens’ right to be prepared to protect themselves against tyranny – was answered by detailed explanations of the safeguards of liberty built into the proposed Constitution. There was no doubt in the minds of the founders, the Constitution was a document which promised to protect liberty and always at the expense of the power of government. These supporters argued that the liberties of people would always be protected by the constitutional limits on the central government and the Rights guaranteed to the people. Liberty was the one promise the founding fathers truly believed that “we the people” could keep.

The very real fear of tyranny of the majority being enforced by either a militia or a federal army was the focus of much debate. Tyranny of the majority was repeatedly addressed in the articles of the Constitution. The citizens’ ability to defend their liberties was addressed by Alexander Hamilton in an open letter to the people of New York published January 10, 1788. That letter was only one in a series of 85 which came to be known as the Federalist Papers.

The proof of the intent of the writers of the Constitution is found throughout the 85 Federalist Papers. They were written by three men who shared the pseudonym Publius. James Madison and Alexander Hamilton were among those delegates who wrote the new Constitution. The third Publius was John Jay who served as the president of the Continental Congress and the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. All three men were deeply committed to preserving the liberties so many of their friends and neighbors in the colonies had died to win.

Today the language of the Federalist Papers is so removed from popular speech very few people can understand what these great promises to America are saying. On the other hand, Madison, Hamilton and Jay would never understand a Beyonce or a Miley Cyrus scratching at their crotch and calling people a bitch while demanding the rest of us ban the word bossy.

So that voters today and tomorrow might be more able to understand what was promised to the people if they accepted the Constitution, how tyranny of the majority is not only breaking those promises but erasing the liberties and its safeguards exactly as predicted by those who both supported and opposed the Constitution, and what the solutions might be to recover those liberties, some key excerpts from the Federalist Papers need translated into popular culture language.

The history of the failed democracies of Greece and Rome taught us that a true democracy can only exist in the total absence of liberty and freedom.  True democracy is best described as a group of three voting on what to have for dinner. If the group consist of two coyotes and a rabbit it would be very hard to convince the rabbit that democracy was a good form of government. So it was that when the people of those historic city states gathered for governing, the citizens joined with others of similar interests to gain strength in numbers. Together these groups, called factions, could temporarily align with others to vote in support of the best opportunity for each. So long as these alliances remained temporary and less important than the local interest, the majority they formed would also be temporary. But if or when the majority sets aside local interests in favor of the faction and forces its will on the minority the condition is known as ‘majority tyranny.’ Throughout the history of the world, majority tyranny has always lead to either a violent revolution and the breaking up of the territory or a single leader such as a king or dictator who emerges to control the people by force.

Publius closes No.55 by writing that he believed that if every citizen of the ancient democracy of the city state of Athens had been as smart as Socrates, the citizens’ assembly would still have been a mob.

Protection of the liberties of the people having been woven into the various articles of the Constitution remained a concern to the founders. The focus of much of the Constitution was to build a government in which the chance of the development of a majority tyranny would be limited; but not impossible. Safeguards written into the Articles were intended to place enough control over the power and operation of the standing army and the militia to prevent the federal government from imposing the tyranny of the majority upon the citizens by using force. But reserving the appointment of all militia officers to the states and controlling the funds available for maintaining a larger than necessary standing army were not enough in the minds of the writers of the Constitution.

In Federalist No. 29, Hamilton explains some of the reasoning which resulted in the Second Amendment. He explains the background for the Second Amendment was based on a third means to protect liberty from even the slight possibility of majority tyranny misusing either the militia (which today we call the National Guard) or the standing army in any way.

He wrote in somewhat understandable language: ” if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens. This appears to me the only substitute that can be devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against it, if it should exist.”

What he is writing then is the clear reasoning of allowing the citizens to be the final and ultimate protection of their own liberties. Furthermore, he states that he believes the citizens should have nearly equal weapons and training as the government forces when he writes; “little, if at all, inferior to them (the soldiers of the government)…”

Hamilton then goes on to write: “Where in the name of common-sense, are our fears to end if we may not trust our sons, our brothers, our neighbors, our fellow-citizens?”

And with those words Hamilton outlines why the Right of the Citizens to keep and bear arms should never be taken away by any level of any government. It was never about hunting. It was always and still is about protecting liberty when, as is currently the case in the state government of Colorado and the federal government in Washington, there exist a majority tyranny.

The next article will further discuss the circumstances which have led to the present condition of the majority tyranny and the threat to liberty which was only thought to be remotely possible so long as there existed honorable representatives thoughtfully elected by an informed and involved electorate to carry forth local concerns.


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  • Lee Cruse says:

    Good article. I would suggest to anyone interested that there are several audio books that contain the federalist papers. iTunes has one for under $5. They are probably more understandable in audio form for many people.

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