By Douglas V. Gibbs
The foundation of our system of government is the U.S. Constitution. The document written in 1787 was the result of four months of strong debate. The debaters were learned men who had researched governments past to determine which was best for the new country. They understood there is no perfect government, but they wanted the system they were creating to be the kind that would stand the test of time, while protecting liberty. The best way to accomplish this, when taking into account the real danger of human nature, the tendency of government to expand, and the presence of a lust for power, the founders determined that a federal government greatly limited in its authorities to only those functions necessary to protect, preserve, and promote the union, would be best.
Many of the decisions made by the Founding Fathers was based on their immediate frame of reference in their recent memory. That reference was the British Empire. The founders desired that this nation should be as unlike the British Empire as possible. For this reason they discarded British common law in many respects while forming the new federal government through the Constitution. Aristocracy was abandoned, as well. The new system of government would enable self-governance through the autonomy of the States. The States, as a result, would retain the majority of their powers, granting only the authorities necessary for safeguarding the union to the federal government.
Europeans saw this new system of governance in America as foolish. The nations across the Atlantic did not understand how a people would be able to govern themselves without a strong central government to dictate the rules of society. For this reason, among others, Europe saw the American system of governance as one doomed to fail.
A small federal government, and State governments with nearly unlimited powers, is a system born from the belief in individualism. The founders recognized the importance of individual rights, and that a person's rights are not granted by the government, but by God, therefore government has no authority to encroach on those rights.
The Founding Fathers expected the people to protect their own rights through self-government. With freedom comes responsibility, therefore the people, when it came to their rights, should be governed by their conscience, not government. This concept tasked the people, with their individual judgment, to be civil, and to not encroach on another’s freedoms. If citizens were guilty of violating someone else’s rights, the civil court system in each State would address the issue. These courts are controlled by juries, and leaves all issues regarding rights at the local level.
The federal courts, according to the founders, has no authority to take these cases, for the federal government has no authority over these issues. Civil issues are local issues, therefore the cases must remain in the local court systems.
The very notion of the federal government putting itself into a position of encroaching on the rights of the people was seen as tyrannical, and dangerous. After all, how could a centralized, far removed, governmental power that is unfamiliar with local customs and laws properly administer private rights issues?
The concept of growing the federal government is based on a premise of collectivism. The people who supports big government are often untrusting of the ability of individuals, or individual States, to make decisions that is best for society as a whole. Therefore, these statists support a concept that is not unlike the philosophy of "the general will."
The "general will" is an idea made popular during the revolutionary period by a French philosopher named Jean Jacques Rousseau. The general will, according to Rousseau, is a will not necessarily expressed by the general public in any way but is presumed to be known by the ruling elite. "No aspect of human life," according to Rousseau, "is excluded from the control of the general will. . . whosoever refuses to obey the general will must in that instance be restrained by the body politic, which actually means that he is forced to be free."
The bulk of the founders denied the existence of such a will, and considered the philosophy to be in direct opposition with their concept of constitutionalism.
The wish by Rousseau to dissolve the people into a homogeneous mass, abolish decentralization, and remove representative institutions could not be in sharper contrast to the American traditions of constitutionalism, federalism, localism, and representation.
The general will was popular with the Jacobins, which was a secular movement in France that adhered to concepts very similar to today's socialist ideologies. The supporters of the general will offered that if the general will was to become a practical reality regarding the operation of government, than all voluntary associations would be subjected to government regulation and control in the name of "the people" and their "will" - as interpreted by the ruling elite.
The desire of the Jacobins to institute such a system in France was one of the factors that led to the French Revolution, and ultimately a greater tyranny than the tyranny the revolutionaries disposed of.
History has shown time and time again that such big government concepts always leads to serfdom, and the end of individual liberty.
Today, the concept of the general will alive and kicking in the American system, though it now exists under other names. The government acts with regulations, and other big government tendencies, in the name of the "public interest." The good intentions of the Left has all but destroyed the principles of limited government, devolving our nation into a state where the net beneficiaries of government (those who receives entitlements) nearly outnumbers and dominates the net taxpayers (the producers of society, those who pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits).
The result, combined with President Obama's mercantilist policies, has all but destroyed the last remnants of the American system as forged by the founders. The democrats advocate special interest politics that benefits the politically connected at the expense of the taxpayers, and the small business owners.
Ultimately, despite all of the calls for "equity" and "fairness," of which the liberal voters fall for in an amazingly gullible manner, the rhetoric is merely a smoke screen for the real desires of these statists. The liberal democrats are pulling the wool over the public's eyes by saying that their policies are for the "good of the people," and the "moral thing to do." They must do what they are doing in a deceptive manner, because if the fools voting for the democrats truly understood the tyranny the leftists in power are offering, the liberals would be thrown out of office in a manner that would make the election of 2010 look like a cake walk.
-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary
Big Government Rising - Heritage Foundation
Thomas J. DiLorenzo, Hamilton's Curse; New York: Three Rivers Press (2008), pages 22-24.