Common Sense By M.E. Boyd, Esq., “Miss Constitution”
M.E. Boyd, Esq., “Miss Constitution”
The title from a pamphlet produced by Thomas Paine that rallied Americans to independence, 1776.
Last week Miss Constitution explained what the “New Order of the Ages” represents regarding governance after the American Revolution. The notion that a whole structure could be built around individual rights against government power was certainly revolutionary. We noted that individual rights against government power are protected by the Supreme Court of the United States if the rights in question are part of the Constitution, and if the rights are unalienable, or come from our Creator, they are protected by the virtue of citizens and their representatives.
There is another aspect of this New Order that warrants our attention. Article I, sections 9 and 10 of the United States Constitution, forbids either the national or state governments from granting titles of nobility in America. This is significant. Prior to our Constitution various nobilities (aristocrats) were seen as the appropriate governing entity in countries all over the world. It was considered the duty of these aristocrats to create a responsible governing structure whose continuity was passed on inter-generationally and whose experience would provide the wise leadership a particular country needed.
In America, this notion was rejected. We have no old-line families that take up the duties of governance. “Well-bred” does not resonate well here. In the Declaration of Independence, the phrase “all men are created equal” means that all men are created equal relative to aristocracy. We have no princes or princesses of the realm. In our system it is thought that ordinary people can learn the art of statecraft and become republican representatives of the people and their wishes. Many of our Presidents have come from humble backgrounds. Some have come from dysfunctional backgrounds. It was thought that governance from the non-aristocrat would produce a fairer, more just society, without the pretension and airs of the aristocracy.
While the above notions of individual rights and equality relative to aristocracy are key components of our system, they both get caught up in humanity’s obsession with everyone being “equal.” As Alexis de Tocqueville noted in the 19th century, “Americans are so enamored of equality that they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.” So, at this juncture we come to the second big question the Founders had about the New Order they were creating.
Can average persons govern? Or do we need an educated and experienced governing class similar to a traditional aristocracy?
This key question was answered by the Founders in this way. They were not confident that “average” persons could govern, or be Supreme Court justices, or even President of the United States. They feared direct democracy as possibly manipulated or prone to what today we call “group think” but back then they called “mob” thinking and behavior. Yet they did not want to retain old-world notions. What to do? The Founders created a system of indirect voting that they felt would assure wise and experienced persons would rise to the top. The Senate, with its two representatives of each state and serving longer terms than the House, would be selected by each state’s legislature thereby assuring that each state’s interests were properly represented and that the best and brightest in each state would be part of the governing structure of the nation. They also created the Electoral College as an indirect way of voting for President. Sheer popular vote will not win thereby forcing candidates to campaign in all states including those with sparse populations. The only direct popular vote would be for House members who only serve two-year terms. The Founders knew the nation needed mature and knowledgeable persons in positions of power but did not want to rely on the 200 great families of aristocrats that Great Britain had. What a genius plan.
That plan has been destroyed first by the 17th Amendment, 1913, that allowed direct voting for Senate, and now by the secret plan to do away with the Electoral College by agreement of participating states to bypass the Amendment process and change the Constitution illegally. The result in the Senate of direct voting has been a loss in caliber and quality in Senate members and a shift from interest in one’s state to the nation itself and the ever-enlarging power of the federal government. Miss Constitution would remind everyone that we as a nation cannot do without virtuous, high-quality, intelligent, knowledgeable, honest, disciplined, humble public servants. The Founders anticipated that the obsession humanity seems to have with “equality” would be satiated in the House of Representatives where the inappropriate can be removed in two years.
So, the big questions of governance for our country – Can individual rights prevail against centralized power and can average citizens govern with knowledge and maturity have been answered now and the answer is a bit discouraging.
Is there nothing to save us?
There is the one thing left to save us. It has always been there with Americans and it is still there in spades. What we have to save us is common sense — that one trait in the American character that no amount of corruption can destroy. The American experiment in individual liberty ceded power to government to protect this liberty and to create a stable social order without the pomposity of a birth-right aristocracy. Our New Order of the Ages can still be saved by the common sense of the American people who must rise to the occasion and throw-out the rot, disinfect the putrid, and put in place honest, hard-working, God-fearing, and competent persons to represent the great people we are. The current pandemic has let us see clearly. We are a free people and we can make our own decisions and we can plant grass seed and we can safely open our businesses. We can also take back our country from elected persons who have no loyalty to the system.
Copyright©2020 by M.E. Boyd, Esq., “Miss Constitution”
APPLES OF GOLD – Voices from the past that speak to us Now by M. E. Boyd is available at www.amazon.com