There are current cries from self-proclaimed Federalists in support of a strong National government, saying that those who believe in states’ rights are the Anti-Federalists. However these self-proclaimed Federalists are really today’s current Neocon Republicans, Democrats and Statists.
Or maybe they are remnants of the of the18th Century, the Loyalists.
They are defining the Tenthers as Anti-Federalists. They believe that our current debate in this country is in vain, and our vision of this country’s founding is an illusion. They say that those in favor of states’ rights, the Neo- Anti-Federalists of our time and are the loser against the current status quo government of Neocon Republicans and Democrats. Today’s Loyalists fancy themselves a Federalist believing our country was founded on a strong federal government whose only obstacle at the time of Revolution was the states.
Are the current politics of our time really a Federalist vs. Anti-Federalist debate? Is this really a game of winners versus losers? What was the vision of the Founding Fathers in regard to our federal government? What really was stated in the Federalist Papers and Anti-Federalist Papers?
In the Federalist Papers, the authors define the role of the Federal Government. The Federalists believed in a limited government. But what sort of government did the Founders depicted in the Federalist Papers and characterized in the Constitution? They depicted a republic of which “we may define a republic to be, or at least may bestow that name on, a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure, for a limited period, or during good behavior.”
So how should the Union be seen?
“They ought, with equal care, to have preserved the FEDERAL form, which regards the Union as a CONFEDERACY of sovereign states; instead of which, they have framed a NATIONAL government, which regards the Union as a CONSOLIDATION of the States…the act, therefore, establishing the Constitution, will not be a NATIONAL, but a FEDERAL act… Were it wholly national, the supreme and ultimate authority would reside in the MAJORITY of the people of the Union; and this authority would be competent at all times, like that of a majority of every national society, to alter or abolish its established government. ”
Today, our government is acting like a national government instead of a federal government. Congress does not constitutionally declare war. The Executive branch has taken control with multiple executive orders. The abuses of our offensive wars include using secretive private and publicly funded agencies to disrupt foreign nations, funneling weapons to cartels and so called “freedom fighters or rebels of a regime” in a foreign civil war, and replacing conventional warfare with the Ender’s Game version in the Drone Wars. The Founders had warned of offensive wars and the abuses of a national government’s over-reach.
“We must receive the blow, before we could even prepare to return it.”
Today we are too quick to attack another country in the name of a Preemptive Strike or to nation build after we remove one hostile form of government for an even more hostile form of government.
In Federalist No. 26, the Founding Fathers worried as Reagan stated, that “Freedom was one generation away from extinction.” The Federalists stated that our legislature was duty -bound to put our liberty before the overextended reach of the national government.
“Independent of parties in the national legislature itself, as often as the period of discussion arrived, the State legislatures, who will always be not only vigilant but suspicious and jealous guardians of the rights of the citizens against encroachments from the federal government, will constantly have their attention awake to the conduct of the national rulers, and will be ready enough, if any thing improper appears, to sound the alarm to the people, and not only to be the VOICE, but, if necessary, the ARM of their discontent.”
The states are duty bound to remain suspicious of elites in the Union, and to raise the people’s awareness if any infringement of the their rights. Rarely do our representatives serve as our voice or arm. However, we do have some Federalists of our time who are acting as our voice against the federal government.
The Patriot Act authorizes the warrantless wiretaps of American citizens. FISA allows the collection of our electronic communications. Our Congress has handed over it’s declaration of war many time. Recently in the NDAA, Congress authorized endless war in every country around the world, and even legislated a mandatory war with Iran when it is determined they have the capability, not an actual, nuclear bomb.
The Federalist had an ominous warning and solution to such tyrannical acts. Federalists believed that for tyranny to happen, the executive and legislative branches would conspire to eliminate our liberties.
“Schemes to subvert the liberties of a great community REQUIRE TIME to mature them for execution. An army, so large as seriously to menace those liberties, could only be formed by progressive augmentations; which would suppose, not merely a temporary combination between the legislature and executive, but a continued conspiracy for a series of time… The people should resolve to recall all the powers they have heretofore parted with out of their own hands, and to divide themselves into as many States as there are counties, in order that they may be able to manage their own concerns in person.”
Since September 11, 2001, we have seen the endeavors of the whole federal government on by from the National Defense Authorization Act, the Patriot Act, EO 13603, the formation of the Transportation Security Administration, FISA, and the various other unconstitutional outreach of the federal government is voiding our Constitution. Too few are sounding the alarm that the tyranny is from the enemy within the gates.
Tenther’s believe as the 10th amendment so beautifully 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.” As the Federalists, Tenther’s believed and envisioned, that we live in a Confederacy of Sovereign States, unified by a limited federal government. The federal government’s obstacle is not the states, but the Constitution.
Does that mean Tenthers are not the Anti-Federalists that the believers of a strong national government say they are?
The Anti-Federalists debated the Federalists against the formation of a Union. The Anti-Federalists believed the formation of a Union would consolidate the States into a despot instead of viewing them as sovereign. The consolidation of states would occur due to federal government’s capacity to regulate trade, ability to raise armies, and collect taxes.
The states further lose their sovereignty to a national government’s ability to taxes, since there is no limitation to this power “to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States.”
“Beside, the arm of the government is always at hand to shield you from his injustice and oppression. But if the Continental collector, in the execution of his office, should invade your freedom … the state of which you are a citizen will have no authority to afford you relief.”
There is no check or balance between states and federal government. The federal government will supersede all states. Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The judicial branch ruled that the government can penalize a citizen as a tax. As the Anti-Federalists point out, Congress does not have enough checks and balance, and the saw the same problem in the executive and judicial branch
The ability of a national government to raise armies can be detrimental to liberty since the troops can be used on it’s own citizens.
“They will moreover, have the power of leading troops among you in order to suppress those struggles which may sometimes happen among a free people, and which tyranny will impiously brand with the name of sedition.”
With the Patriot Act and NDAA those deemed a terrorist or those that are suspected of aiding terrorism, or commits belligerent acts shall be indefinitely detained by the military. We have seen the DHS’s list of ways someone can be suspected of terrorism from those who pay with cash to those who defend the constitution.
So, were the Anti-Federalists’ fears erroneous? No, we have seen the extent of the federal government’s transformation into a national government with uncontrolled power to tax, pass trade regulations, and feed the ever-expanding military industrial complex. Our president has used executive orders to circumvent Congress and the judicial branch, as Tom Woods says, rubber stamps everything the national government wants.
Who is the winner and loser?
This isn’t a Federalist or Anti-Federalist debate. Both wanted liberty and did not want a despotic government. The Federalists thought they created enough checks and balances while the Anti-Federalists believed there was just not enough. I never want to believe the national government has won. The fight is not over. We have seen jury nullification across the states, legislation submitted in nullifying Obamacare, the feds’ medical marijuana prohibition, the feds’ prohibition on the legalization of marijuana, and NDAA. Some localities and states are more successful than other.
One thing for certain: more of our representatives need to be sounding the alarm and serve as our arm against the federal government.
Tenth Amendment Center and OffNow.org volunteer and blogger.