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  1. #1
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    The Founding Fathers on Democracy and Government

    Contrary to what some may believe, our Founding Fathers had a healthy contempt for democracy and something bordering on hatred for government. They viewed both as necessary evils that must be kept chained and controlled, lest they lead to tyranny.

    I'm confident that if the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Ratifiers of the Constitution were suddenly resurrected to take a vote on the current affairs of our government, they would unanimously reject virtually all current policy.

    Here are some interesting quotes that support this opinion... I have added emphasis to those that are particularly telling of the current state of our nation.

    Quote Originally Posted by James Madison
    I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by the gradual and silent encroachment of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpation.
    Quote Originally Posted by John Adams
    Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Franklin
    Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!
    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Jefferson
    The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Jefferson
    I place economy among the first and most important virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers to be feared. To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. If we run into such debts, we must be taxed in our meat and drink, in our necessities and in our comforts, in our labor and in our amusements. If we can prevent the government from wasting the labor of the people, under the pretense of caring for them, they will be happy.
    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Jefferson
    To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Jefferson
    The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.
    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Jefferson
    The Tenth Amendment is the foundation of the Constitution.


    True democracy leads to tyranny. The Founding Fathers knew this. That's why we have a Republic. Our founding documents are more about limiting government than establishing government. Majority rule was abhorred by the FFs because tyranny of the majority is no better than tyranny of a dictator or oligarchy or plutocracy.

    That's why we have the Electoral College - to thwart democracy! That's why 51 Senators can override over four hundred House Representatives and 49 Senators - to thwart the tyranny of the majority.

    These concepts are not Left and Right. They are MORE Government or LESS Government. You all know that I am a conservative, but I will say right now, I don't pretend to think that the Republicans are collectively a party of "less government". They give more lip service to the words, but like most politicians, once they have power they seek nothing but more power.

    Abraham Lincoln said "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." Sadly, most of our public servants fall short of the test.

    I'd like to know your opinions on what the Founding Fathers would think of the state of our nation, or whether you think their beliefs, intentions, and philosophy is even relevant.

  2. #2
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    Re: The Founding Fathers on Democracy and Government

    Quote Originally Posted by cds69 View Post
    Contrary to what some may believe, our Founding Fathers had a healthy contempt for democracy and something bordering on hatred for government. They viewed both as necessary evils that must be kept chained and controlled, lest they lead to tyranny.

    I'm confident that if the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Ratifiers of the Constitution were suddenly resurrected to take a vote on the current affairs of our government, they would unanimously reject virtually all current policy.

    Here are some interesting quotes that support this opinion... I have added emphasis to those that are particularly telling of the current state of our nation.










    True democracy leads to tyranny. The Founding Fathers knew this. That's why we have a Republic. Our founding documents are more about limiting government than establishing government. Majority rule was abhorred by the FFs because tyranny of the majority is no better than tyranny of a dictator or oligarchy or plutocracy.

    That's why we have the Electoral College - to thwart democracy! That's why 51 Senators can override over four hundred House Representatives and 49 Senators - to thwart the tyranny of the majority.

    These concepts are not Left and Right. They are MORE Government or LESS Government. You all know that I am a conservative, but I will say right now, I don't pretend to think that the Republicans are collectively a party of "less government". They give more lip service to the words, but like most politicians, once they have power they seek nothing but more power.

    Abraham Lincoln said "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." Sadly, most of our public servants fall short of the test.

    I'd like to know your opinions on what the Founding Fathers would think of the state of our nation, or whether you think their beliefs, intentions, and philosophy is even relevant.


    If the Founding Fathers sat back and read the history of our nation, I think that they would be impressed, amazed, saddened, repulsed, and attracted to what we have become.



    I don't understand people who make the claim: "Well, our Found Fathers stated that X was bad... therefore we should do X." or "Well, our Founding Fathers stated that Y was good... therefore we should do Y."

    The Founding Fathers believed in liberty, believed in limited government, believed in compromise, believed in peace, and believed in the right for people to choose their own government. But, they also believed in slavery, believed that women shouldn't have a right to vote, believed that blacks were inferior to them, and believed that rights needed to be curbed.


    But you know what, above every afore mentioned principle the Found Fathers believed in?

    Rationalism. They believed that people should sit down, look at the evidence, double check the logic, be realistic about what can capably be done, find a suitable goal, and find the most rational, non-emotional way to obtain the goal. They believed in liberty, tranquility, and freedom of the people. They reasoned, with the evidence of the day, that limited government, capitalism, self-rule, and self-ownership were the best way to obtain these. But we're changed scientifically, mathematically, economically, technologically, and intellectually in a significant manner over the past 250 years. There's new evidence, new possible goals, new questions, new rights, new ways of thinking, new ideas, and an entirely different culture.


    Do don't think that would change their views, in some manner or another, on capitalism, freedom, and government?


    But I can't say how it would have changed their views, but I can say that I have my goals, my reasons, my understanding of the evidence, and I know that it impacts my views on the government. And that's all we have; we don't know what the leaders of the past would do in the present.

  3. #3
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    Re: The Founding Fathers on Democracy and Government

    Quote Originally Posted by GoldPhoenix View Post
    Do don't think that would change their views, in some manner or another, on capitalism, freedom, and government?


    But I can't say how it would have changed their views, but I can say that I have my goals, my reasons, my understanding of the evidence, and I know that it impacts my views on the government. And that's all we have; we don't know what the leaders of the past would do in the present.
    How is the question different today then it was back then? Has the nature of tyranny changed so much? Has the nature of government changed so much? I think they were looking at pretty much the same questions we were, and came to their conclusions. If you want to argue that they were wrong, go ahead, but don't pretend that they might actually agree with you because of how FDR's New Deal changed the role and scope of the U.S. government, or because our new President is So [edited out] Smart.
    Last edited by Allocutus; January 4th, 2010 at 04:01 PM.
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  4. #4
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    Re: The Founding Fathers on Democracy and Government

    I'm not one for hero worship. Just because a great person said something, doesn't mean I will agree with it. It has more weight, it should be considered, but it is not divine truth.

    So while I think it is worth while to consider the records of the founding fathers, I do not think they should be taken as an authority on what is good and what is not. Each of them had their personal demons and failings, each had their successes and failures as leaders and public figures. And they were all politicians.

    Of course the times and technology also changes things. They would be astonished by the modern age no doubt, but would quickly adapt and assess how technology changes culture and policy. They would also likely recognize that while technology does change, human nature does not. Thus much of what they say rings true, and yet on policy issues the implementation of that policy may not.

    Finally... There is little you can point to in the founding fathers day and say "See, life was much better then." Whatever their beliefs they didn't have practical answers for all of life's challenges. They merely did what they could to make life better and succeeded in making dramatic strides. I happen to feel that in many ways we have continued that heritage and that its fruits lie more in emancipation, suffrage, and our legal system than in low taxes or federalist political leanings.

    So in the spirit of thinking for myself I will comment on those quotes.

    I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by the gradual and silent encroachment of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpation.
    It happens both ways. Under a relatively just government like England's yes, under the rule of a despot tyrant, no. Ask the native Americans about abridgment of freedom and if it was gradual and silent or sudden and violent. (a mix of both I suspect) The point is that freedom can be lost many ways, and this quote really speaks to the speakers personal experience which was under a state governed mostly by rule of law at the time even if those laws were not always just.

    Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself.
    So far he has been mostly proven wrong. Democracies are doing rather well in most places in the world where they have been established.

    Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!
    I agree with this one in spirit, although not all men are wolves, and a well armed lamb is not really a lamb at all. Its an argument for rule of law, and I agree with it. But law has to come from somewhere and ultimately that somewhere is the people and the people need a way to change the law when needed. The whole checks and balances is important. Democracy is great, but like anything it requires some temperance and moderation.

    The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
    No, it will cease to be effective, not cease to be. Lots of ineffective things persist in our world. If you are using this as an argument against welfare, I'd point out the number of habitual lazy bastards is small as a % of our population so this is not a current danger. If you mean simply taxation is wrong I'd point out that benefiting from the national good but not paying back to it would be an example of what you propose above, subsidy of those unwilling to support the collective benefit by those who are.

    I place economy among the first and most important virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers to be feared. To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. If we run into such debts, we must be taxed in our meat and drink, in our necessities and in our comforts, in our labor and in our amusements. If we can prevent the government from wasting the labor of the people, under the pretense of caring for them, they will be happy.
    I agree. Although I would point out our economy is very different from in that day and age, both in scale and speed. Debt runs strong at all levels of our society now, both personal and public. Debt can enable great things, and it can strangle you. It is risky stuff. Knowing how much risk is justified is tricky.

    To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
    It is also the nature of civilization. If we had no taxes we would have no nation. if we had no nation property would not be protected. We pay taxes for the sake of stability, but in a large nation that requires compromise. Our system is one big compromise between individuals and our collective state.

    The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.
    Not always. By a strict reading of that, spending money on an investment that will take 3 years to pay off is a bad idea, but we all know that if you do not invest in the future the economy will never grow. It is a question of balance and wisdom as to when is good to spend and when is good to save. Our nation suffers from a lack of satisfaction so we never feel like it is a good time to save and secure. Even in good times we shout "Not good enough!" and demand even more growth and progress at the expense of saving and securing. The housing boom could have been an opportunity for people to consolidate wealth, but instead we leveraged it all for yet more future growth and the bet failed. Will we learn the lesson?

    The Tenth Amendment is the foundation of the Constitution.
    That is on its face incorrect, after all it is an amendment. In some short reading it seems that most legal cases trying to use it have discovered it is almost entirely without teeth because of the way it is worded and because of how the main body of the constitution is written and it merely reiterates what is already in the main body in terms of federal vs state power. Some groups have tried to give it greater strength but have generally failed to do so because it was not worded strongly enough to have much legal force.

    In the end all it amounts to is that the states get whatever the feds decide not to address or are expressly forbidden from addressing.

  5. #5
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    Re: The Founding Fathers on Democracy and Government

    Quote Originally Posted by GoldPhoenix View Post
    If the Founding Fathers sat back and read the history of our nation, I think that they would be impressed, amazed, saddened, repulsed, and attracted to what we have become.
    I cannot find a single word in this statement that I would dispute. Well said.

    I don't understand people who make the claim: "Well, our Found Fathers stated that X was bad... therefore we should do X." or "Well, our Founding Fathers stated that Y was good... therefore we should do Y."
    Of course one shouldn't exercise blind devotionalism towards the FFs. My intention was merely to state that if you love our form of government, take a look at the personalities and philosophies of those that created and molded it.

    The Founding Fathers believed in liberty, believed in limited government, believed in compromise, believed in peace, and believed in the right for people to choose their own government. But, they also believed in slavery, believed that women shouldn't have a right to vote, believed that blacks were inferior to them, and believed that rights needed to be curbed.
    They beleived in none of those things unanimously. As united as they were in their cause to protect liberty, they were individuals with individual beleifs.

    But you know what, above every afore mentioned principle the Found Fathers believed in?

    Rationalism. They believed that people should sit down, look at the evidence, double check the logic, be realistic about what can capably be done, find a suitable goal, and find the most rational, non-emotional way to obtain the goal. They believed in liberty, tranquility, and freedom of the people. They reasoned, with the evidence of the day, that limited government, capitalism, self-rule, and self-ownership were the best way to obtain these. But we're changed scientifically, mathematically, economically, technologically, and intellectually in a significant manner over the past 250 years. There's new evidence, new possible goals, new questions, new rights, new ways of thinking, new ideas, and an entirely different culture.
    I agree with what I've highlighted wholeheartedly. And the FFs provided for these then unforseen changes by making the Constitution alterable by means of specific actions. And like so many other aspects of the government, they designed the very actions needed to alter this document to be an obstacle to the tyranny of the masses.

    Instead of our society attempting to alter our founding document to reflect this "new evidence, new possible goals, new rights, new ideas and new culture", we've perverted the system by merely inventing new interpretations to fit the fickle wants of those in power.

    Do don't think that would change their views, in some manner or another, on capitalism, freedom, and government?
    I personally don't think that anything that has transpired since the ratification of the Constitution would have changed their views on those the issues of capitalism and government. I beleive that they would see the problems with our capitalistic system as a failure of those in power, not a failure of the framework and the principles they provided for government. As for freedom, I would say that the one change I would hope they would embrace would be for ALL men - of ANY RACE - to be entitled to the rights protected by the Constitution.

    But I can't say how it would have changed their views, but I can say that I have my goals, my reasons, my understanding of the evidence, and I know that it impacts my views on the government. And that's all we have; we don't know what the leaders of the past would do in the present.
    It is of course, simply speculation. But an interesting exercise nonetheless. I'm hoping that at a minimum you and I can agree that it is a travesty that the average US citizen is so uneducated about the founders of the nation, the brilliant documents that they produced, and the history that has brought us to where we are today.

  6. #6
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    Re: The Founding Fathers on Democracy and Government

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    I'm not one for hero worship. Just because a great person said something, doesn't mean I will agree with it. It has more weight, it should be considered, but it is not divine truth.
    Sig,

    For the sake of brevity, I'll not address your comments line by line.

    What I posted was more of a "food for thought" offering than an invitation for specific dissemination of every quote. The responses I had hoped to get were ones that generally spoke to your opinion of how far we are away from the intent of the Founding Fathers, and whether you thought their original ideas and philosophies should even be considered today.

    The one statement I do have to specifically address is your response to Jefferson's claim that the Tenth Amendment was the foundation of the Constitution. You said it was "incorrect". LOL, that's pretty amazing that you say that about a quote from one of the framers of the document itself! I could understand if you criticized it by saying that it could have been worded in a more specific manner, but to say its incorrect?

    I say that the fact that the 10th Amendment is the foundation of the Constitution completely correct. The entire point of the Constitution was to establish a government that was limited - OVER limited if need be - to the point that it could never be a threat to the individual liberties of the people. The 10th Amendment is the embodiment of this goal, basically stating, if it's not SPECIFICALLY in here, it's delegated to the states or the people.

  7. #7
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    Re: The Founding Fathers on Democracy and Government

    Quote Originally Posted by cds69 View Post
    What I posted was more of a "food for thought" offering than an invitation for specific dissemination of every quote. The responses I had hoped to get were ones that generally spoke to your opinion of how far we are away from the intent of the Founding Fathers, and whether you thought their original ideas and philosophies should even be considered today.
    Well, they should be considered, but considered in the light of what we have learned over the few centuries since their lifetime. The danger lies in taking their philosophy as policy, much like taking the bible as law. Philosophy must always go through the rubric of practicality before it becomes law.

    The one statement I do have to specifically address is your response to Jefferson's claim that the Tenth Amendment was the foundation of the Constitution. You said it was "incorrect". LOL, that's pretty amazing that you say that about a quote from one of the framers of the document itself! I could understand if you criticized it by saying that it could have been worded in a more specific manner, but to say its incorrect?
    Sure, incorrect. It is not the foundation of the constitution, just like putting a very nice door in a building isn't the foundation of the building. The foundation is the foundation and you don't make it a "10th amendment." "By the people, of the people and for the people" I would argue is the foundation of the constitution and I think describes best the intention and structure of what the constitution lays out.

    Chopping up things into "states" and "federal" is just an arbitrary boundary. Many individual states are now larger than the entirety of the US at that time. The size of government will always be proportional to the size of the nation (although its strength of control need not be). Waving the states banner is just a banner. What matters is the ideal that people have innate rights and liberty and that government serves the will of the people and not the other way around. How you chop up government authority is a matter of practicality, not essential philosophy. Modern communication is something wholly unheard of in the founding fathers age. To know of events across the globe the moment they happen was an absurd notion. To see them with your own eyes a wild fantasy. The world is both much larger and much smaller than it was then and thus matters of practical governance are different while the essential philosophy of liberty and self rule are much the same.

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    Re: The Founding Fathers on Democracy and Government

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    How is the question different today then it was back then? Has the nature of tyranny changed so much? Has the nature of government changed so much?
    Umm... Yes?

    Clive, don't even bother telling me you think that the world hasn't changed enough to make us re-look at these issues in a different light. A year or two ago you (I believe it was you, it might have been MT) supported, unequivocally, Bush's decision to wiretap the United States on a level that would have made the Found Father's pee themselves and was brazenly against the law. You looked at the issue and formulated an opinion that given the new threat of terrorism, certain rights needed to be usurped for the greater good. So don't tell me think that the question of tyranny has never changed, or that our views of what the government should do and shouldn't do hasn't changed, or that fundamentally, we aren't okay with new government roles and new ways of stopping the government from taking a role. The civil rights movements, females getting the right to vote, a couple of world wars, the Great Depression, nuclear power, the advent of massive scientific progress, the internet... You don't think any of these things changes the political scene at all?


    Quote Originally Posted by Clive
    I think they were looking at pretty much the same questions we were, and came to their conclusions. If you want to argue that they were wrong, go ahead, but don't pretend that they might actually agree with you because of how FDR's New Deal changed the role and scope of the U.S. government, or because our new President is So F*cking Smart.
    Oh yes, clearly, I was referring to Obama. Because everything I say refers to Obama. And I also think he's just the smartest man on the planet.

    But undoubtedly, Clive, the New Deal changed our view the economy and the government's role in it; this was a necessary paradigmatic shift after the colossal failure of the economy during the Great Depression. You can feel free to disagree with it, but you'd be insane to try to argue that it hasn't changed public opinion on how and where the government should get involved.

    Quote Originally Posted by cds69 View Post
    I cannot find a single word in this statement that I would dispute. Well said.
    Thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by cds
    Of course one shouldn't exercise blind devotionalism towards the FFs. My intention was merely to state that if you love our form of government, take a look at the personalities and philosophies of those that created and molded it.
    I've read all (yes, it was painful) of the Federalist Papers, the Constitution multiple times, and used to know over 120 major SCOTUS cases.

    I love the government that they were trying to create, but I do think that many aspects of our current government are outdated.

    Quote Originally Posted by cds
    They beleived in none of those things unanimously. As united as they were in their cause to protect liberty, they were individuals with individual beleifs.
    Well, obviously. They collectively didn't agree on a single issue. But there more of them that didn't agree with those views, and they, as a collective, were willing to let go of those issues.

    Quote Originally Posted by cds
    I agree with what I've highlighted wholeheartedly. And the FFs provided for these then unforseen changes by making the Constitution alterable by means of specific actions. And like so many other aspects of the government, they designed the very actions needed to alter this document to be an obstacle to the tyranny of the masses.

    Instead of our society attempting to alter our founding document to reflect this "new evidence, new possible goals, new rights, new ideas and new culture", we've perverted the system by merely inventing new interpretations to fit the fickle wants of those in power.
    Well, they didn't make every line of the Constitution amendable, they didn't allow for the President to become a royalty, but otherwise, this is true.


    Of course, it is also well worth noting that they did not intend for the Constitution on lasting a long time; it was my interpretation that they figured that our Constitution would go the same route as the Articles of Confederation. And that future leaders would have to sit down, figure out what went wrong, and then make the necessary large revisions. I think that people lose sight of this fact. The Framers didn't have an unyielding faith in the Constitution, they had an unyielding faith in man's ability to sit down, reason, and work harder to find better forms of government.

    Personally, I do believe that we could use a large bit of revision to the Constitution.


    Quote Originally Posted by cds
    I personally don't think that anything that has transpired since the ratification of the Constitution would have changed their views on those the issues of capitalism and government. I beleive [GP: not to be a twat, but that's "believe", "i before e except after c", which is actually still wrong, but whatevs] that they would see the problems with our capitalistic system as a failure of those in power, not a failure of the framework and the principles they provided for government. As for freedom, I would say that the one change I would hope they would embrace would be for ALL men - of ANY RACE - to be entitled to the rights protected by the Constitution.
    Certainly, but you must understand that this is nothing more than an a prime example of how cultural changes have changed the view of the role of the government and its involvement. This is not a minor change, either.

    Quote Originally Posted by cds
    It is of course, simply speculation. But an interesting exercise nonetheless. I'm hoping that at a minimum you and I can agree that it is a travesty that the average US citizen is so uneducated about the founders of the nation, the brilliant documents that they produced, and the history that has brought us to where we are today.
    Indeed it is, but I find it to be more pragmatic to discuss what our views on government are, why we should disband with particular constitutional views, instead of blindly quoting the Framers.

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    Re: The Founding Fathers on Democracy and Government

    Quote Originally Posted by GoldPhoenix View Post
    I've read all (yes, it was painful) of the Federalist Papers, the Constitution multiple times, and used to know over 120 major SCOTUS cases.
    I know you're not a theist, but have you ever read the bible chapter Numbers? It's about as entertaining as the Federalist papers.

    Of course, it is also well worth noting that they did not intend for the Constitution on lasting a long time; it was my interpretation that they figured that our Constitution would go the same route as the Articles of Confederation. And that future leaders would have to sit down, figure out what went wrong, and then make the necessary large revisions. I think that people lose sight of this fact. The Framers didn't have an unyielding faith in the Constitution, they had an unyielding faith in man's ability to sit down, reason, and work harder to find better forms of government.
    Many are involved in the push for a Constitutional Convention

    Personally, I do believe that we could use a large bit of revision to the Constitution.
    Can I ask what you would like to see changed?

    Indeed it is, but I find it to be more pragmatic to discuss what our views on government are, why we should disband with particular constitutional views, instead of blindly quoting the Framers.
    There was nothing blind about me quoting them. My view on government is very similar to what the founders set forth. I would like nothing better than for us to diverge from the path we've taken over the last one hundred years and revert back to utilizing the original intent of the Constitution and it's amendments. I'm not saying that the document is perfect or infallible. I'm just saying that we're on the wrong path right now, and to get to the place we need to be, we need to turn around and go back to where we took a wrong turn.

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    Re: The Founding Fathers on Democracy and Government

    Quote Originally Posted by GoldPhoenix View Post
    Umm... Yes?

    Clive, don't even bother telling me you think that the world hasn't changed enough to make us re-look at these issues in a different light. A year or two ago you (I believe it was you, it might have been MT) supported, unequivocally, Bush's decision to wiretap the United States on a level that would have made the Found Father's pee themselves and was brazenly against the law. You looked at the issue and formulated an opinion that given the new threat of terrorism, certain rights needed to be usurped for the greater good. So don't tell me think that the question of tyranny has never changed, or that our views of what the government should do and shouldn't do hasn't changed, or that fundamentally, we aren't okay with new government roles and new ways of stopping the government from taking a role. The civil rights movements, females getting the right to vote, a couple of world wars, the Great Depression, nuclear power, the advent of massive scientific progress, the internet... You don't think any of these things changes the political scene at all?
    I don't think that the fundamental question of liberty has changed. The civil rights movements and women getting the right to vote were steps down that same road. I'm not sure how WWI or WWII would change whether the Bill of Rights is a good thing.

    Different questions about the same thing; the founding fathers never knew about electronic surveillance, but the question is ultimately the same.

    Quote Originally Posted by GP
    Oh yes, clearly, I was referring to Obama. Because everything I say refers to Obama. And I also think he's just the smartest man on the planet.

    But undoubtedly, Clive, the New Deal changed our view the economy and the government's role in it; this was a necessary paradigmatic shift after the colossal failure of the economy during the Great Depression. You can feel free to disagree with it, but you'd be insane to try to argue that it hasn't changed public opinion on how and where the government should get involved.
    Of course it changed public opinion; most people actually think FDR helped. But the question wasn't whether public opinion has changed; the question was whether the founding fathers were right. If Communism took hold here in the U.S., public opinion would be that Capitalism doesn't work, and that the Founding Fathers were wrong about the role of government. But Communism would still be wrong, Capitalism would still work, and the Founding Fathers would still be right.
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    Re: The Founding Fathers on Democracy and Government

    Quote Originally Posted by GoldPhoenix View Post
    Clive, don't even bother telling me you think that the world hasn't changed enough to make us re-look at these issues in a different light. A year or two ago you (I believe it was you, it might have been MT) supported, unequivocally, Bush's decision to wiretap the United States on a level that would have made the Found Father's pee themselves and was brazenly against the law.
    While I do beleive a viable argument can be made that these warrantless wiretapping cases are not legal, I think it's a stretch to say that it's "brazenly" against the law. There is a gray area here. If one considers them "foreign intelligence", there is a somewhat compelling argument that these powers fall under the Authorization for Use of Force. Is it kind of a legal stretch that falls a little short of the smell test? Sure. But "brazen" they are not. And for that matter they are not "Domestic" communications as everyone likes to call them.

    But undoubtedly, Clive, the New Deal changed our view the economy and the government's role in it; this was a necessary paradigmatic shift after the colossal failure of the economy during the Great Depression. You can feel free to disagree with it, but you'd be insane to try to argue that it hasn't changed public opinion on how and where the government should get involved.
    I agree wholeheartedly that the Depression/New Deal changed public opinion on the role of government. But I argue that Constitutional powers do not change until that public opinion is strong enough to trigger the actions required to change the Constitution.

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    Re: The Founding Fathers on Democracy and Government

    Quote Originally Posted by cds69 View Post
    I know you're not a theist, but have you ever read the bible chapter Numbers? It's about as entertaining as the Federalist papers.
    Ex-evangelical Christian, but I don't remember content by books.

    *internet search*

    LOL, oh yeah, the numbers of people in the tribes.


    Quote Originally Posted by cds
    Many are involved in the push for a Constitutional Convention.
    I don't think it'd be a bad plan, but it'd depend strongly on who was involved.

    Quote Originally Posted by cds
    Can I ask what you would like to see changed?
    There's a lot of inefficiency, I think, in they way in which we run our democracy. I think that there needs be a revamped bill of rights, I think we need to re-secure aspects of free speech, including securing the internet, abolishing the FCC, working to getting drugs legalized in some manner (though this doesn't necessarily deal with the constitution), as well as other issues.

    Quote Originally Posted by cds
    There was nothing blind about me quoting them.
    Indeed, I never suggested it, I was speaking strictly of people who did hold this view.

    Quote Originally Posted by cds
    My view on government is very similar to what the founders set forth. I would like nothing better than for us to diverge from the path we've taken over the last one hundred years and revert back to utilizing the original intent of the Constitution and it's amendments. I'm not saying that the document is perfect or infallible. I'm just saying that we're on the wrong path right now, and to get to the place we need to be, we need to turn around and go back to where we took a wrong turn.
    I like too much the progress in rights we've made.

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    Re: The Founding Fathers on Democracy and Government

    Quote Originally Posted by GoldPhoenix View Post
    There's a lot of inefficiency, I think, in they way in which we run our democracy. I think that there needs be a revamped bill of rights, I think we need to re-secure aspects of free speech, including securing the internet, abolishing the FCC, working to getting drugs legalized in some manner (though this doesn't necessarily deal with the constitution), as well as other issues.
    Regarding inefficiency, I agree totally. Never ending gerrymandering and a tax code that's equal to twenty or thirty copies of War and Peace are a bit excessive.

    I also agree about the internet, FCC and drug legalization. I tend to lean libertarian on the drug issue.

    I like too much the progress in rights we've made.
    I'm confused. Are you implying that a return to constructionist views on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights would reverse these rights? Are you implying that the rights you're referring to would be reversed if one reads the Constitution in a literal manner? Which rights are these?

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    Re: The Founding Fathers on Democracy and Government

    Quote Originally Posted by cds69 View Post
    I'm confused. Are you implying that a return to constructionist views on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights would reverse these rights? Are you implying that the rights you're referring to would be reversed if one reads the Constitution in a literal manner? Which rights are these?
    Not my response but....

    I think its somewhat fair to say that many civil rights changes have been brought about partly through the increased power of a federal government and that many historical states rights issues were based around civil liberties battles with the states being against them and the feds for them.

    Uniformity of rights requires uniformity of law which requires strong federal powers.

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    Re: The Founding Fathers on Democracy and Government

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    Not my response but....

    I think its somewhat fair to say that many civil rights changes have been brought about partly through the increased power of a federal government and that many historical states rights issues were based around civil liberties battles with the states being against them and the feds for them.

    Uniformity of rights requires uniformity of law which requires strong federal powers.
    I wouldn't say that is completely accurate, it has gone both ways. For example some states in the North attempting to not enforce the Fugitive Slave Law. I do know what you're saying though, the term 'states rights' itself does have connections to segregation, slavery, and anti-homosexual bigotry in my mind.

    I generally agree with what GP said. The FF were good, but we can try to rely on them a little too much and sometimes I think that many of are guilty of hero worship for them blocking our reason.

    I would be interested to see what they thought about the country as it is now.

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    Re: The Founding Fathers on Democracy and Government

    No one knows exactly what what the F.F. wanted America to be in 200 years, as all we have to go by are the sometimes inaccurate history books (nobody tells a good story if they can make it a great one). They probably wanted to create the greatest country in the world but I think today, America is like every other country. The only people who have a say are the wealthy and powerful. Iran and America are often considered polar opposites but their government structure is very similar. One difference being the Iranian government is more transparent. In both country's the people can vote for their president, but in both country's it is the supreme leader or the puppet-master(s) who dictate the decisions that the president makes, not the people. Because there is no way for the people to influence these puppet-masters, (they have no identity in America and you can be charged for speaking disrespectfully about the Iranian supreme leader), the blame will always end with the president. Maybe the F.F. had intended this set up. If the puppet masters are wise enough this set up could very well be a means to reign in the politicians if they were in danger of becoming Tyrants. If this is the case I think something probably went wrong. Hopefully Barak will be able to break this cycle as I think he would make a better puppet master than who ever is pulling the strings at the moment.

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    Re: The Founding Fathers on Democracy and Government

    The greatness that the founders envisioned was not within its government, but within the people of this land. The government that was constructed by the founders was all about the limitations of power, and the checks and balances within the power of a government. There was a time when the people of this country used the British crown as a measuring stick of what not to become, and those measurements are inherently timeless.

    Tyranny isn't so black and white as we have come to understand. Just as a dictator can be benevolent, he or she is a dictator nonetheless. Tyranny comes in many forms, but in essence is a bondage of mind, body or spirit. There is great evidence that the founders believed in this but to varying degrees. Hamilton and Jefferson would be at opposite ends of the spectrum whereas Madison, Monroe, Jay would be somewhere in between.

    Tyrrany, more often than not, comes in the form of 'making things better for the people'.

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    Re: The Founding Fathers on Democracy and Government

    If this country has become more Socialist, it's because the people have slowly voted for it over the years. We elect our leaders, and if they do something we don't like, we vote them out. That's how the system works. The people choose the direction of social issues, while the federal government chooses how best to protect the nation. Sometimes they screw up, and we face retribution in the form of domestic terrorism. But sometimes they get it right, like taking the fight to Germany in WW2 (remember, we didn't choose to go to that war in the name of freedom).

    But the American government has changed considerably since this country's birth, and not always for the better. Unless we have a traumatic revolution, we will never go back to the country of our Founding Fathers.

    I think we need to worry less about social issues, and more about our trading debt with foreign countries, and our over-expansion of the military. Those two shovels are digging our grave. Remember it was Thomas Jefferson who warned us against "entangling alliances." We should have heeded his call decades ago. WW2 really changed our outlook on the world, and now we are paying a heavy price for the globalization of Democracy.

    Who here thinks our Founding Fathers would agree to America forcing Democracy onto other nations?

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    Re: The Founding Fathers on Democracy and Government

    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf Myth View Post
    If this country has become more Socialist, it's because the people have slowly voted for it over the years. We elect our leaders, and if they do something we don't like, we vote them out. That's how the system works.
    You are correct. But I maintain that the FF were absolute geniuses in the architecture of our government. No other government in the world was established with the types of intervening roadblocks to prevent tyranny. The FF knew that the average voters were basically imbeciles that would vote for whichever snake oil salesmen promised them the most goodies. So they put clear limitations on government powers. These checks and balances worked great for 150 years until one president - FDR - found the loophole, which was the unchecked power that the president has over the structure of the Supreme Court. He used this power to arm-twist the court into allowing the excesses of the New Deal, something they had previously rejected.

    The people choose the direction of social issues, while the federal government chooses how best to protect the nation.
    Please explain this to me. The government and the people are to be one in the same. That is the spirit of our entire system of government.

    Sometimes they screw up, and we face retribution in the form of domestic terrorism.
    Statements like this really irk me. The 9/11 attacks were not predicated on political ideology. They were an act of religious fanaticism. We were attacked because evil men sought to kill innocents. Period.

    But sometimes they get it right, like taking the fight to Germany in WW2 (remember, we didn't choose to go to that war in the name of freedom).
    Why exactly were we there? For the fabulous door prizes?

    But the American government has changed considerably since this country's birth, and not always for the better. Unless we have a traumatic revolution, we will never go back to the country of our Founding Fathers.
    Not necessarily true (I'm talking of returning to a government more aligned with constructionist views of the Constitution).

    I think we need to worry less about social issues, and more about our trading debt with foreign countries, and our over-expansion of the military. Those two shovels are digging our grave. Remember it was Thomas Jefferson who warned us against "entangling alliances." We should have heeded his call decades ago. WW2 really changed our outlook on the world, and now we are paying a heavy price for the globalization of Democracy.
    There is no such thing as a "trade debt". You're speaking of a trade "deficit" - the disparity of imports v. exports. But trade deficits have a self-negating quality; high exports raise the value of currency and high imports lowers the value, creating a balancing effect. Large disparities are not inconsequential, but they are less of a concern than our overall national debt.

    As far as the "globalizaton" of Democracy, I contend that Democracy is a natural progression from the Monarchy. Scores of countries in which the US has played no significant diplomatic role have adopted democracy.

    Who here thinks our Founding Fathers would agree to America forcing Democracy onto other nations?
    Establishing Democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan was an ancillary endeavor, and not in any way a motivation for going to war. Whether you view the decisions to invade those countries as justified or not, we were there to remove specific groups of people from power. Not because their form of government was not to our liking, but because their ACTIONS were not to our liking. Once those groups were defeated and a vacuum of power was created, it would be unthinkable to do anything BUT give the citizens of those nations a voice in how their governments would proceed.

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    Re: The Founding Fathers on Democracy and Government

    Quote Originally Posted by cds69 View Post
    Please explain this to me. The government and the people are to be one in the same. That is the spirit of our entire system of government.
    Not really. The people don't decide foreign policy and acts of war.


    Quote Originally Posted by cds69 View Post
    Statements like this really irk me. The 9/11 attacks were not predicated on political ideology. They were an act of religious fanaticism. We were attacked because evil men sought to kill innocents. Period.
    So you think bin Laden just randomly picked the U.S. as a target because he wanted to kill innocents? I know you're not that naive. 9/11 and the previous WTC attack were directly related to the act of U.S. putting troops on Saudi Arabian soil during the Persian Gulf war.

    Quote Originally Posted by cds69 View Post
    Why exactly were we there? For the fabulous door prizes?
    Remember, Germany and Italy invaded much of Europe, and we sat by. We didn't want to meddle in a European conflict. It wasn't until Japan attacked us that we were thrust into the war. So it's not like America is this beacon of freedom that marched over to Europe to kill the oppressors. Before WW2 we were pretty much noninterventionists, and if Japan hadn't attacked us, I doubt we would have gone to war. Also remember, the Soviets took Berlin, not the U.S.

    Quote Originally Posted by cds69 View Post
    There is no such thing as a "trade debt". You're speaking of a trade "deficit" - the disparity of imports v. exports. But trade deficits have a self-negating quality; high exports raise the value of currency and high imports lowers the value, creating a balancing effect. Large disparities are not inconsequential, but they are less of a concern than our overall national debt.
    Yes, that is what I meant. America has a high trade deficit, especially with China.

    Quote Originally Posted by cds69 View Post
    Establishing Democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan was an ancillary endeavor, and not in any way a motivation for going to war. Whether you view the decisions to invade those countries as justified or not, we were there to remove specific groups of people from power. Not because their form of government was not to our liking, but because their ACTIONS were not to our liking. Once those groups were defeated and a vacuum of power was created, it would be unthinkable to do anything BUT give the citizens of those nations a voice in how their governments would proceed.
    That's all fine and dandy, but removing these powers will not stop the terrorists. And it is dangerous for America on the world stage to invade countries just because they don't like the actions of their governments. This type of aggression is going to get us further into trouble.

 

 
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