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The Constitution of 1788 is a threat to the government of 2006

March 6th 2006

The Constitution of 1788 is a threat to the government of 2006


Let the record clearly show that this author pays great respect to the US Constitutions and its framers. This admiration goes beyond the definitions of the limits on the power of the various offices of national government, but it is particularly zealous for the inferred safeguards that buttress the walls that protect common liberty from power lusting individuals.

The most fascinating example of such a safeguard was through the original selection of the US Senate. Until 1913 each state legislature chose two senators to serve in the Congress of the United States. This system was established to protect the sovereignty of the states and keep the power of the national government in check.

"...In this senate are lodged legislative, executive and judicial powers," so stated Letter III from Letters from the "Federal Farmer" to "The Republican", Published in New York, November 8, 1787.


The Letter continued, "They were interested in collecting large powers into the hands of the senate, in which each state still will have its equal share of power....The senate will consist of two members from each state chosen by the state legislature, every sixth year....(A)nd a majority of the senators present give the vote of the senate, except in giving judgment upon an impeachment, or in making treaties, or in expelling a member when two thirds of the senators present must agree."

Consequently, ratification of the constitution was dependent upon the senate acting in the interests of the sovereignty of the states forming the union. So wrote Oliver Ellsworth in his Reply to Elbridge Gerry, from the Connecticut Courant of November 26, 1787, "...(T)he Hon. gentleman proposes his doubts....The proposed plan among others he tells us involves..., 'whether the several state governments , shall be so altered as in effect to be dissolved? Whether in lieu of the state governments the national constitution now proposed shall be substituted?' I wish for sagacity to see on what these questions are founded. No alteration in the state governments is even proposed, but they are to remain identically the same that they now are....Why are we told of the dissolution of our state governments, when by this plan they are indissolubly (sic) linked....The national legislature consists of two houses, a senate and a house of Representatives. The senate is to be chosen by the assemblies of the particular states; so that if the assemblies are dissolved, the senate dissolves with them...."


This system of selecting the senate is considered here to offer significant benefits to the individual liberties of American citizens by placing the states in an influential position over policies formed in Washington. It is a system that, if restored, could make limited government a real possibility because states would affect decisions on, among other things, trade, government regulation, immigration, judicial appointments, treaties, and war. States, through the senate, would also have significant influence over foreign policy initiatives of the president.

Republicans/Conservatives claim that they desire limited government and restrictions on federal power, but those sentiments are strongest when Republicans do not exercise any authority within the federal government. Unfortunately, now, when the Republican Party in firm control of both houses of Congress and the White House, is the time that they could do the most to restrict the power of the federal government. As it stands, however, they tend to characterize any argument in favor of decentralizing the power of the national government as a partisan attack on the security of the nation. Any suggestion that the president is abusing his authority draws accusations of hate-inspired Bush bashing.


The accusations of Republicans/conservatives against their detractors are not fair or intellectually honest. Nor is the love of centralized power Republicans/conservatives have acquired since they have gained the status to benefit from it. Thus, Republican claims that they desire limited government, when held against their record of centralization since 1994, are little more than political posturing intended to keep their supporters ignorant and emotionally piqued against Democrats.

Limiting the power of the national government is considered here to be a possibility, but achieving the goal in modern times would require investigation of ideas from people who developed limited government in the past. Limited power is improbable if it is left to the political whims of those who benefit from absorbing power, like Republicans and Democrats. Consequently, discussions and debates for limiting the power of the national government are best developed outside the circles of partisan political power that have made federal offices their franchises.

Such suggestions might make me somewhat unwelcome to modern American government, but not to the government that was defined by the US Constitution in 1788.

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By Bob Strodtbeck
Bob Strodtbeck has been writing editorial commentaries since 1993.  He has professional experiences in pharmaceuticals, radio, and education.  He has also served as a church elder in an Orlando congregation where he has made his home since 1986.rvstrodtbeck@peoplepc.com

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