June 23, 2010 – Federalist No. 41 – Cathy Gillespie

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Yesterday we passed the halfway mark for the 90 in 90: History Holds the Key to the Future Program !  We are more than halfway through our 90 day journey to read the Federalist Papers and U.S. Constitution in 90 Days!

A big thank you to all our 90 in 90 particpants.  We thank you for taking the time to read, and share your thoughts. Some of you blog so regularly, I feel I know you!  Others pop in from time to time, and it is always refreshing to read a comment from a new person!

Please continue to spread the word, and invite your friends.  Every comment adds to our group’s understanding.   Don’t be shy! Your comment or thought may be just the thing someone needs to read!

Thank you to Professor Knipprath for your enlightening essay.  You continue to be one of our groups’ favorite guest Constitutional Scholar Bloggers!  We appreciate you coming back on during the day to add comments and answer questions.  Today, your analysis of the Congress’s power to spend, and the general welfare clause was very helpful!

What a gift it is to read the writings of these brilliant men and have the benefit of hindsight – to be able to look back 222 years and see which of their predictions were correct, where the anti-federalists’ fears were substantiated, and to be able to heed their wise words, relating them to situations we face today.

As Professor Knipprath points out, Madison once again returns to addressing the anti-federalists’ fears of  a standing army.  Abuse at the hands of the British Army was a real and painful memory to our founding fathers.  And throughout history standing armies had become enemies of the people they were charged with protecting.

Madison wisely recognizes the need for the Union to be equipped to protect itself:

“How could a readiness for war in time of peace be safely prohibited, unless we could prohibit, in like manner, the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation? The means of security can only be regulated by the means and the danger of attack.”

This statement is even more true today, when our enemy cannot be pinpointed geographically, and is ever present.  Thankfully, the anti-federalists’ fears of a standing army were unfounded.  As I mentioned in my Memorial Day essay, a recent Rasmussen poll showed that 74% of Americans have a favorable view of the U.S. Military.  Only 12% had an unfavorable opinion and 13% weren’t sure.

While the anti-federalists’ fears of a standing army were never validated, their fears of Congress’s power to spend certainly were!

Madison protests:

“Some, who have not denied the necessity of the power of taxation, have grounded a very fierce attack against the Constitution, on the language in which it is defined. It has been urged and echoed, that the power “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States,” amounts to an unlimited commission to exercise every power which may be alleged to be necessary for the common defense or general welfare. No stronger proof could be given of the distress under which these writers labor for objections, than their stooping to such a misconstruction.”

If Madison were alive today, I believe he might owe the anti-federalists an apology!  The anti-federalists’ worst fears about “an unlimited commission to exercise every power which may be alleged to be necessary for the common defense or general welfare,” have been realized.  Congress’s taxing and spending is out of control, and the national government has reached into areas far beyond its enumerated powers.

What are we to do? In Federalist 51, Madison states, “A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government.”

“We The People” are to exercise our control.

“Every man who loves peace, every man who loves his country, every man who loves liberty, ought to have it ever before his eyes, that he may cherish in his heart a due attachment to the Union of America, a be able to set a due value on the means of preserving it.”

I look forward to the next few Federalist Papers, as Madison defends the Congress’s powers, and we examine them in depth.

Good night and God Bless!

Cathy Gillespie

 

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