James Madison for 2010

James Madison, father of the American Constitution, had much to say about politics and government in the United States of 2010. Consider some examples.

‘It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.’

Translation for today: It doesn’t make sense to pass a law that nobody, including the legislators, has ever read, or ever intended to read. Doing so constitutes negligence and tyranny. Case in point: ObamaCare.

‘There is no maxim, in my opinion, which is more liable to be misapplied, and which, therefore, more needs elucidation, than the current one, that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong.’

Translation for today: Just because a majority say it, doesn’t make it so. Just because a majority vote for it, doesn’t make it a right. Might does not make right, no matter what Pelosi, Barack, Biden, and all their ‘Republicrat’ career politician allies may claim.

‘Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpation.’

Translation for today: Liberty disappears gradually. This proved true in America, as things turned out. The welfare state, begun in earnest during the Great Depression of the 1930s, gradually made more and more Americans dependent on the government. This took the form not just of welfare payments and public insurance, but also all manner of subsidies and favors selectively given out by the government. Eventually, as many people became dependent on some government program as not. The private economy began to shut down, justifying (in the minds of politicians) even more limitations and abridgements on freedom. That’s where America is in 2010. It took about a century for government to accomplish this. The curtain is closing on freedom, unless Americans join together and yank it back open.

‘Philosophy is common sense with big words.’

Translation for today: Political philosophy, at least, is not that complicated. The more free people are, the more they develop their talents, the more they produce, and the better off everyone is. Freedom requires as limited a government as possible—but a strong enough government to protect people to be free from force. Government’s job is to protect people from each other, and also from government itself. When it fails in either function, it’s all over, at least until that proper function is restored.

‘What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”

Translation for today: Barack is no angel. He is no savior and there will be no savior. Nor should there be one. We all must save our own souls, and foster our own well-being. Barack is just another pretentious human being who wants to control other human beings, rather than leave them free and responsible for being themselves. His kind has been with us before, and will be with us again. He’s nothing special. At most, you can say he’s especially bad. But he’s surely nothing special, and never was.

‘The Constitution of the United States was created by the people of the United States composing the respective states, who alone had the right .’

Translation for today: The people shape the government. The government does not shape, and has no business attempting to shape, the people.

‘Americans have the right and advantage of being armed — unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.’

Translation for today: Government has no right to initiate force against its own people. The moment that happens, and the moment even the American government crosses that line, the people can and will strike back.

‘Liberty and order will never be perfectly safe, until a trespass on the constitutional provisions for either, shall be felt with the same keenness that resents an invasion of the dearest rights.’

Translation for today: Freedom, liberty and individual rights were discovered at the time great men such as Madison uttered or wrote these words. Those rights are gone now, or at least going fast. But once something has been discovered, it can never be lost. Freedom, now known to exist, can and will rise again. The welfare state has not worked, and now it’s bankrupt. The politicians will try to rescue it but they can’t, especially with less support from private, productive citizens than ever before. Raising taxes will lower the productivity of the nation even further, as more and more of the productive quietly go on strike. Freedom always has another chance—once the politicians, those arrogant apostles of redistribution, get out of the way. These people in office may have power, but their power comes from the virtuous and the productive. They are nothing without it. As virtue and productivity continue to recede, the power of the politicians will recede with it. Then freedom can begin all over again. Despite the hard times we’re in, and probably darker times ahead as Obama’s policies take hold, freedom will sooner or later make a comeback. If the people are worthy of Madison’s words, then it can be sooner than you think.