June 2, 2010 – Federalist No. 26 – Cathy Gillespie

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Thanks to everyone who joined our discussion today, and to our Guest Constitutional Scholar Bloggers, Daren Bakst and Troy Kickler!

I asked you all last night to help us recruit kids to enter the We The People 9.17 Contest, Entries due July 4!  Thank you!! We have had several new online signups today at http://constitutingamerica.org/contestsignup.php Please keep spreading the word!!

Here is one additional request – as you recruit young people to the contest, please ask their parents, and the older kids, to join us on this blog! We learn so much from each other. The more people we have participating, the more we learn!!

Tonight, the first paragraph of Federalist #26 grabbed my attention.  I even printed it off and carried it down the hall to show my husband who was trying to watch TV in peace!  But as he read the sentences below, he agreed – these words ARE relevant today:

IT WAS a thing hardly to be expected that in a popular revolution the minds of men should stop at that happy mean which marks the salutary boundary between POWER and PRIVILEGE, and combines the energy of government with the security of private rights. A failure in this delicate and important point is the great source of the inconveniences we experience, and if we are not cautious to avoid a repetition of the error, in our future attempts to rectify and ameliorate our system, we may travel from one chimerical project to another; we may try change after change; but we shall never be likely to make any material change for the better.

I admit I had to look up a few words. I had a vague understanding of their meanings, but reading the definitions added to the richness of Hamilton’s message.

ameliorate – to make or become better, more bearable, or more satisfactory; improve; meliorate.

chimerical – 1 : existing only as the product of unchecked imagination : fantastically visionary or improbable
2 : given to fantastic schemes

Even though Publius uses this first paragraph to make his case for the legislature to have the power to provide for national defense, these words reverberate with meaning, as I think of the numerous ways the balance between “legislative power and liberty” (thank you Mr. Bakst & Kickler for that phrase) has been disrupted.

Our founders created a system of checks and balances, and nothing less than our freedom is dependent upon its equilibrium.   Whether we tip too far towards anarchy, as Hamilton feared if the legislature wasn’t granted the power to provide for the national defense, or too far towards government control in our lives, the result is a deviation from the system of government our founding fathers so carefully designed.  When “We the people” allow the government to get out of balance, we allow our liberty to fade, creating those “inconveniences,” Hamilton references, and we fail to make “any material change for the better.”

Good night and God Bless!

Cathy Gillespie

 

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