Philosophies of government purported by Locke and Montesquieu served as the framework for the Constitution of the United States of America. Studying ancient governments, Locke describes in his two Treatises on Civil Government an evolution of governance from the basic family unit as the original body politic to that essential when numbers of the community-family expand exponentially. Protection of private property and the common good of the community required a special model protecting man’s natural rights from tyranny and oppression often seen in previous ruling models including monarchies, theocracies, and dictatorships.
A common denominator in the attrition of previous experiments in government revolves around imperfections in human nature. An old adage, “absolute power corrupts absolutely”, expresses a trait of humanity difficult for leaders to overcome. The most effective form of government is a dictatorship; however, a Devine and benevolent dictator would be required to avoid stigmas associated with human nature in a leadership role. American Founders studied Montesquieu’s ideas of three co-equal branches of government, each with limited and specific enumerated powers. Montesquieu’s model would serve as a template for the governance model spelled out in the Constitution of the United States of America.
Checks and balances designed within the Constitution served to prevent dominance by one branch of government over the others. It was believed this mechanism would protect the liberty and sovereignty of American citizens from the tyranny and oppression historically experienced in most governments. The model performed well in a nation limited in its size and population; however, as the nation grew in population and states, inconsistencies in its founding principles exposed vulnerability in differences of regional geography and economics which altered the perceived scope of government influence and control.
The Founders stated eloquently in the Declaration of Independence a self-evident truth that all men are created equal. Tearing at the heart of a new nation conceived in liberty was the existence of slavery. The abomination of slavery has existed since biblical times. It was introduced to the Americas by the English via ships from Africa selling captured persons as workers essential to the agricultural southern plantations. Slaves had little or no education, no recognized common language and were of little perceived value except for menial labor. A dichotomy existed for many. Were slaves really men with natural rights so enumerated in the Declaration, or were they the private property of their owners? Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness included accumulation and protection of private property. So, the conscious of America created the dilemma which resulted in an American Civil War.
The Constitution was penned in 1787; however, to gain the favor of southern colonists for adoption, slavery was allowed until 1808 at which time it became a contested argument when applications were made for annexation of new states. The provision for amending the Constitution, Article V states,” Provided that no Amendment be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article:”. Article I, Section 1 dealt with the importation of slaves and forbid anti-slavery amendments to the Constitution until 1808. However, after adoption of the Constitution northern states were confronted with disproportional representation of so many freed slaves in the south. Northern states mandated that freed slaves counted as only three/fifths of a citizen for proportional representation purposes. After the Louisiana Purchase and fearing a new southern advantage in Congress, divisive policies continued to admit southern slave states; but, only if a free-state was admitted simultaneously. The Missouri Compromise and the Kansas-Nebraska Act were examples of these policies. The dichotomy between liberty and slavery ripped the nation’s soul.
After the adoption of the thirteenth amendment abolishing slavery and the conclusion of the civil war preserving a more perfect Union, questions still loomed. First, per Alexander Hamilton in the 1st Federalist Paper, “…it seems to have been reserved for the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force”. Second, could newly-freed slaves, formerly African tribal people with no written language and virtually no intellectual achievements with little education, be integrated into a majority white population where they were perceived as inferior? And third, what role, if any, should a constitutional republic government play in effecting the integration of cultures into a free-society?
Experiences of freed-slaves in the latter half of the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries more than demonstrate the necessity of education for the success of any democracy. Racial discord would result from the struggles of former slaves and their descendants who were frustrated with inequities between whites and blacks. Yet, a “talented tenth” according to black activist W.E.B. DuBois, would serve as a demonstration that blacks could indeed excel in a free society and become entrepreneurs, doctors, and lawyers. A liberal progressive government introduced a Freedman’s Bureau, passed civil rights laws, proposed an egalitarian Great Society, declared War on Poverty, ordered race preferences, built housing projects, and even introduced midnight basketball. Unfortunately, a critical mass never followed the talented tenth. Immigration from the Pacific Rim and India has seen those cultures progress to repeated winners of spelling bees and receiving high scores on the SAT. It is not about white culture, or white privilege, or white racism. It is about a culture of dependency created by delusional, though possibly well meaning, progressives who believe that government, not the people, should affect political policies soliciting cultural change.
Detroit is bankrupt, the south side of Chicago is a war zone, and the vast majority of black cities all over America are beset by degeneracy and violence. Instead of taking responsibility for their failures, blacks often lash out in anger and resentment. Across the generations and across the country, as we have seen in Detroit, Watts, Newark, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, and now Ferguson, rioting and looting are just one racial incident away. Progressive liberal Government’s attempt to alter the dynamics of human nature in a free society has failed repeatedly. Additional tax dollars for more programs benefiting the socially incompatible or new immigrants cannot surpass those essential elements evident within true Liberty in a free market. As the U.S. Government debt reaches near twenty trillion dollars, the insurmountable question remains; when will the Democrat and Republican politicians grasp the message so eloquently expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution? “This Is Not What the Governed Meant”!