In his column “Big Sis: The new J. Edgar Hoover?” the esteemed Nat Hentoff denounces another insidious and chilling assault on free speech and liberty by the obnoxious Janet Napolitano and the subversive Obama gang. Mr. Hentoff quotes James Madison: “Legislative, executive and judiciary, in the same hands … may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”
This got me wondering about what the architects of the union would think if they could return to review the state of that union in 2012. With a bow to Noah Webster’s infamous distinction, the Founding Fathers would be shocked but not surprised. The founders would be shocked by the degree to which raw power, national wealth and natural liberty had been seized by the federal government during their absence … but hardly surprised. After all, their finely tuned constitutional system of checks and balances was vandalized by the 16th and 17th Amendments and the creation of a private extralegal Federal Reserve System. What other outcome could be expected?
The founders understood human nature exquisitely. In brief, power corrupts. Their big idea was finding brilliant ways to restrain the accretion of corrupting power by a centralized government. This was to be achieved by checks and balances enshrined in a written constitution. The founders choreographed the powers of the three federal branches, the states and the people in such a way as to make sure the folks in Washington, D.C., didn’t end up controlling everything, as James Madison ominously warned. The choreography worked beautifully for a time, but then the hunger for power conspired with opportunism and demagoguery in corrupting both the process and the participants.
If the founders could return and see their creature now, they would forsake all interest in “a more perfect union” and begin feverishly drafting “Everyman’s Guide to Pragmatic Disunion.” The union having become hopelessly dysfunctional and anathema to individual freedom, a practical disunion is the ticket that saves Lady Liberty and her people from the ruthless gangsters and bizarre control freaks living high on the hog in the District of Columbia.