Our nation’s Founding Fathers were great men – men of science, religion and morality.

They debated not to dictate, but to persuade. They fought not to conquer, but in defense of Liberty.  They formed a new government not to impose their will upon others, but to peaceably coexist with them.

British Major General Charles, Earl Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia

They were men of great faith.

They had faith in mankind; faith in self-governance. They had great faith in God that their struggle would ultimately bring freedom to the land. Their faith lay against a backdrop of great fear. They had personal fear for the safety of their families, friends, lives and property. But their biggest public fear, beyond winning the Revolutionary War, was that a government of the people, by the people, for the people, could be misused to oppress the very people whose freedom they stove to provide.

Great debates were held over this central question:

How to organize the colonies without interfering in them?

The answer was to limit both the scope and the authority of the new government. They fashioned a federal government with limited, enumerated powers.  They protected the scope of this mission by separating authority over it in every feasible way, devising three co-equal branches of government, the Electoral College, upper and lower chambers of Congress, and systems of “checks and balances.”

After all this debate, the government finally instituted among men was so limited in scope that its mission can be summed in two words: border control. That is, to deal with matters such as maintaining international borders, diplomacy and war; mediating disagreements among the States in matters such as commerce, currency and banking.

The federal government was otherwise given no role in the daily lives of individual citizens.

Even so, many still feared that the government, though lacking any explicit power over the people, would inevitably expand and centralize power. Hence we have “The Bill of Rights”, our Founders attempt to assuage fears of a constitutional monarchy.

Benjamin Franklin’s first response, when asked the type of new government, reportedly was “A Republic, if you can keep it.” 

“If” you can keep it.

As it turns out, these fears were well-founded. Merely 200+ years later, we have more of a national government than a federal one, with nearly unlimited scope and authority.

With unlimited scope comes an unlimited need for funds.

After all, who will say we should not spend the money required to do what “ought” to be done?  The tendency for government is to try to be all things to all people.  The Constitution is the only authority standing in its way.  And it would be the final word, were it not for the tacit agreement of the three branches of government and ultimately, the people, who allow and encourage these excesses.

Federal control has gone from regulating commerce “among” (between) the “several states” to regulating nearly all commerce. Education, school lunches and student loans are all federally controlled. Home mortgages are federally backed. Many large businesses are now federally controlled. The federal government controls most natural resources, regulates employment, has unlimited power to grant or deny permission to engage in most all significant enterprises.  Its EPA claims authority even over rain, carbon dioxide, nearly every waterway and “wetland” mud puddle.

The Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) is a perfect case in point. A law taking federal control of medical insurance and treatment would have been considered un-Constitutional on its face to the Founders.  Where is there any provision in the Constitution for federal goods and services to be provided for individual citizens? Any such provision would have been made by States, or by Interstate Compact. Each state would have complete control over its own participation or lack of it.  This is Federalism, the vehicle of American freedom.

Notably, these days, one who wants to adhere to the original scope of the Constitution is typically dismissed as a radical right-wing extremist, or impractical at the very least. By the Constitution, such a person should be considered a Centrist. Those who want less government tend toward anarchy (Left Wing); those who want more government tend toward fascism (Right Wing).  Constitutional Conservatives, Federalists, are the real Independents, well-balanced between the utility of freedom and the necessity of control.

Originally, the concept of freedom in America was considered self-evident.


David Brooks

Now, even that must be defended as many have lost perspective on the wisdom of our founding documents.  In a nutshell, national government is the ultimate monopoly – unaccountable to the individual and unconstrained by the need for efficiency. It will not be pleasant to be following in the footsteps of socialist, communist or fascist governments.  These exploit divisions between race and class to divide the populace, seize power, indenture servitude, and ultimately force compliance – like “herding chickens,” as they say.  Federal guarantors of our medical care easily become the arbiters of our very existence. Their provisions come at great hidden cost, for what limit then remains on federal authority over a citizen?

Some prominent Americans, like Jeffrey Immelt in business, David Brooks in media, even President Obama, have recently expressed appreciation for the efficiency of dictatorial governments. Why do they feel such frustration? The answer is simple – our Federal Government is the wrong tool for the job they want to do.  It was not designed to be all things to all people. It was designed to allow States this freedom.

Economic freedom provides the most good for the most people without coercion.

Historically, it is progressive. Constitutional Conservatives, Federalists, are the real Progressives.

I reproduce below, for your consideration, the words to “Faith of Our Fathers,” who faced real dungeons, fire, and swords to create, nurture and protect our American heritage, surely not for us to simply abandon!  Our heritage is unique and exceptional.  This is the heritage we owe our children. We need to provide our young people a primer on American Federalism so they too may understand and protect it for subsequent generations.  Pray that the fears of our fathers are never realized.

Concluding with Abraham Lincoln’s famous admonition at Gettysburg,

“that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”



Faith of Our Fathers

Faith of our fathers, living still
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword,
O how our hearts beat high with joy
Whene’er we hear that glorious word!
Faith of our fathers! holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death!

Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
Were still in heart and conscience free;
And blest would be their children’s fate,
If they, like them should die for thee:
Faith of our fathers! holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death!

Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto thee;
And through the truth that comes from God
Mankind shall then indeed be free.
Faith of our fathers! holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death!

Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife,
And preach thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life.
Faith of our fathers! holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death!




Dedicated to my grandson, Dylan, 12 years old, who studied the Bill of Rights in Civics this year,  but was not taught about its origin.

Nothing said here should be construed as any disrespect for our Founding Mothers and Founding Wives, or anyone else of any race, creed, color, religion or ethnic group.


Federalism Could be the Solution to GOP Branding Problem – Jonah Goldberg – Page 1

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