In 1786, John Adams, a year prior to that Constitutional Convention that produced the world’s best Constitution, argued in his “A Defense of the Constitutions of the United States for a balanced republic, complete with divisions of powers, checks and balances, the rule of law (and reverence and submission to Higher Law), mixed forms of representation, and so forth that would be found in that coming best Constitution. Of the extremes of non mixed forms such as monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy he warned his readers where each one of them leads:
Monarchy often degenerates into tyranny, aristocracy into oligarchy, and democracy into licentious anarchy and confusion: so that whoever sets up any one of the former three sorts of government, may assure himself it will not be of any long duration; for no precaution will be sufficient to prevent its falling into the other that is analogous to it, on account of the affinity which there seems to be in this case betwixt virtue and vice, perfection and imperfection.
Adams knew it well. The nature of men in power guaranteed such conclusions. Power accumulates to itself and becomes ever more corrupt as it concentrates. Start off with such an unbalanced model in the first place, and whatever virtue the government might have had from its beginning, and whatever liberty the people might have enjoyed, would all be negated in short order. His book was a broad and penetrating examination of republics throughout history, of every sort from around the world, of their strengths and defects, and the lessons they taught us, or should have taught us. His advice born of this thorough study, a habit of a lifetime of such thorough studies by him, was the kind of advice that, side by side with his fellow political sages, set the stage that brought about that “Miracle in Philadelphia,” the production of that most magnificent and inspired of all constitutions.
Can any serious student of history doubt that it was so? We all know it. But my oh my the lack of reverence for history, for learning, for the wisdom of the ages come from the wisest of political giants! Today large groups of citizens and watch dog organizations blindly cheer as we witness presidencies which usurp power to themselves and run roughshod over the Constitution like the most absolute of monarchs or tyrants … as if it were some all knowing, all wise, blue-blooded god! Today we see groups of citizens, both on the political right and the political left that clamor for a more direct democracy, for the mobocracy of such things as government by polls and referendum, for an abandonment of the Electoral College System that was designed to prevent a few big cities or state from imposing their candidate and their will on all others for a national popular vote, and which contend for the so-called right to vote to their class, race, sex, or corporation to use the Big Gun of government the property of others as well as other rights that they would deny to others. Meanwhile there are those who would turn to the elite few of a federal court or a federal regulatory agency, neither of whom have been elected and are thus accountable to the people, to solve every problem, to right every wrong, to force every form of politically correct good behavior upon private citizens, clubs, organizations, and businesses like it or not, legislated, enforced, and adjudicated in ways that violate nearly every principle of the Constitution. And finally yet other groups that dare to call it liberating and Founding Fathers-like to return to the anarchy of the very Articles of Confederation the Founder rejected when they created the Constitution, and to call upon every state government to nullify each and every law they just happen to strongly disagree with, rather than work for the negation of bad laws the old constitutional way, through the patient hard work of using freedom of speech, press, and assembly to educate and persuade the citizenry and their representatives to a better way of thinking and doing things, rather than engaging in the patient hard work of getting out and supporting new candidates for office who will more faithfully abide by their oath of office, rather than engaging in the patient hard work of raising a more moral and constitutionally astute generation of children to be tomorrow’s leaders for limited government under the Constitution.
It is to a return to the wisdom and brilliance of the Founders under our balanced Constitution, with all its marvelous checks and balances, its Bill of Rights, its limitation of powers doctrine, its protection of Religious Freedom, Speech, and Press so that there might remain in the people enough belief in Higher Law and enough resolve to live morally that is the winning and only true and lasting formula for reform. Besides, without a moral and religious, educated and vigilant electorate will ANY reform have ANY hope for success of being obeyed? Forget concentrating power in the President, the Courts, or the States. Get back to the patient hard work of education and moral living under our inspired balanced Constitution, and all will set itself right in the proper balance. Do it that way or else all is lost, the misguided or wicked will rule, and all that we hold dear will be overthrown or brought to ruin.
Yes, we need to look back to the Constitution to properly step forward, and up to God to do so with His power and blessing, just as the Founding Generation did. As to all these other tangents ranging from extreme centralization to the extremes of moral and political anarchy, citizen beware, your being sold a bill of goods our Founders wisely rejected over two centuries ago.
Steve Farrell is one of the original pundits at Silver Eddy Award Winner, NewsMax.com (1999–2008), the author of the highly praised inspirational novel Dark Rose, and The Editor in Chief of both The Moral Liberal and the Radical Academy.