Comments: Good Call, James Madison

Unlike Jon, I don't read this writing style every day, so my digestion of this quote was rough, requiring many enzymes and small bites. After it worked its way through, I smelled the gist. Since others might also experience indigestion, I offer this translation:

"If we're stuck with a situation where we have to say everybody gets an equal vote, as seems to be happening, with the result being a dangerous populism, then one way to decrease popular influence and add the power of property owners to a legislative body is to make the districts bigger and the terms longer. This produces a better class of legislators, more stable and predictable owing to their likely interest in maintaining property rights above all else. If, by some fluke, some unjustifiably populist legislators are still brought in, don't worry, they'll be in the minority as long as we follow this advice. Oh and by the way, 'justice' is for 'just us'. So there. Nyeah!"

I don't know where you picked this morsel up, but to me it seems this passage came from a discussion of how to set up the legislature in the first place, i.e. stack the deck while appearing egalitarian.

Posted by Joel at September 29, 2009 08:46 PM

I realize I skimped on translation of the core phrase: "election of persons of general respectability, and of probable attachment to the rights of property, over competitors depending on the personal solicitations practicable on a contracted theatre." This means: "election of people who already have power regionally, rather than those who can compete in a small region just by getting a few personal supporters together."

I love how "bipartisan agreement that private insurers must change their ways" is exactly parallel, psychologically, to Madison's "public opinion may require equal votes."

Posted by Joel at September 29, 2009 09:00 PM

Yeah but Chucky Shumer says it was a win!

Posted by par4 at September 29, 2009 09:28 PM

I think Joel's transliteration is pretty good, except I imagine Madison may have preferred 'harrumph' over 'nyeah.'

But this is mere quibbling. I say that we abolish the Senate, possibly increasing the minimum number of small-state congressmen to two so they are less likely to object.

Posted by grimmy at September 29, 2009 10:38 PM

ok, now you're just being retarded.

Posted by kl at September 29, 2009 11:17 PM

I think this is from the same piece in which JM says the purpose of government is to "protect the opulent minority from the majority." And people say politicians aren't doing their jobs.

Posted by Marcus at September 30, 2009 12:08 AM

If one traces the changes in Articles of Confederation adopted in 1776 after the Declaration of Independence, through to the eventual Constitution that arrived 12 years later, one sees exactly what was afoot in those 12 years. From a one-house legislature for commoners, to a 2-house legislature with a landed gentry Senate... from a weakened Executive with rights in the States, to a centralized and powerful Executive... from a national defense aimed only at protection from invasion, to a War Department designed to carry out imperialist agenda points... it was all right there. Some of the members of the Constitutional Convention refused to sign because of these changes. They were the ones who saw what was happening. They warned of these problems.

Madison was just the most well-regarded and widely respected. But that doesn't mean Madison knew any better. Madison arguably served the same purpose as Obama and the Donkeys serve today -- put a nice face on plutocracy. How sweet it was... is... ever will be.

Posted by The Anti-Federalist at September 30, 2009 12:14 AM

Luther Martin still rocks.

Posted by drip at September 30, 2009 07:27 AM

As to the Founding Fathers, in the equally old-style words of James Monroe, President of the United States from 1817 to 1825, quoted in Richard Rosenblatt's American Aurora:

"[I]t will be some consolation to me to . . . do justice to them with posterity, since a gang of greater scoundrels never lived. We are to dance on [Washington's] birth night, forsooth, and say they are great & good men, when we know they are little people."

(American Aurora at 240).

Or Thomas Pickering, the U.S. Secretary of State from 1795 to 1800:

"[Favourable] ideas of Washington are probably entertained by the world at large; for few men were acquainted with his real character and of those few, a very small number . . .will venture, except perhaps in whispers, to speak what they thought or think of his talents. [It] was important to maintain during the revolution, the popular opinion in his favour. Accordingly, there was no public disclosure. But is it proper that the truth should forever be concealed?"

[Id.] [That question is a refrain to our entire history.]

Rosenblatt offers barrels more evidence to support his contention that Washington, John Adams, the above-quoted James Madison and most of the rest of the Founding Fathers favored aristocracy and monarchy, not democracy, and weren't so exceptional in their talents or wisdom or character either. (This should surprise no one, given that the Constitution sanctioned slavery, and yet miraculously it does.) Had it not been for Franklin and France, we would not even have what small measure of democracy we now do.

Of course we shouldn't have a Senate--any fool can see that! But what can/should we do about it?

Posted by N E at September 30, 2009 07:55 AM

But even with all the wealth-protecting features of the US constitution, that wasn't enough, so they had to invent the filibuster.

Posted by SteveB at September 30, 2009 08:00 AM


We didn't even invent that. The Brits and before them the Romans had the filibuster. To my annoyance, our current form of filibuster doesn't even require the stamina of endless reading of phonebooks or the like. If you want to thwart democracy, you should at least have to suffer a little!

Posted by N E at September 30, 2009 08:21 AM

drip knows what I'm saying. long live the spirit of Luther Martin!

Posted by The Anti-Federalist at September 30, 2009 08:54 AM

Reminder: it is still possible to do noble things from within the US Senate. Review Mike Gravel's behavior as a US Senator, regarding the Vietnam war draft, and regarding the Pentagon Papers. Some of us supported Gravel's run in 2008 for these and other reasons.

Posted by The Anti-Federalist at September 30, 2009 09:32 AM

"Reminder: it is still possible to do noble things from within the US Senate."

In 1970, George McGovern delivered one of the most forceful antiwar speeches in Senate history, calling for an immediate US withdrawal from Vietnam. His Dem colleagues looked on, nodded appreciatively, then voted to keep the war going.

Most times, noble ain't enough.

Posted by Dennis Perrin at September 30, 2009 09:58 AM

AND it binds US well I see.
Franklin deeply believed in the British Empire. He wanted America to be the biggest, bestess, mostess loyal part of that noble empire UNTIL THE DAY HE PERSONALLY MET THE KING. From that point on he was for an American Empire. (from sea to shinning sea at which time the empire ran out of room to empire[verb] on.)(over there, over there, WE will take all YOUR shit from over there)

Posted by Mike Meyer at September 30, 2009 10:19 AM

@ Dennis Perrin -

Yep, I agree. I was really commenting on the idea of filibuster.

Posted by The Anti-Federalist at September 30, 2009 10:51 AM

Say what you want about the founding fathers, you can't claim they weren't up front about what they were doing.

Well--- except that that whole meeting was semi-secret and they decided no official minutes should be taken and Madison's private notes were not published until after everyone involved was safely dead.

Wasn't Madison one of the more liberal founding fathers?

Posted by DavidByron at September 30, 2009 12:25 PM

Oh excuse me -- it sounded so much like the stuff that went down when the constitution was written up (and presumable alludes to that) that I just assumed it was. I'm not clear if this note was published or not and when....?

Posted by DavidByron at September 30, 2009 12:32 PM

There is an excellent book on the topic from South End Press called "Toward an American Revolution: Exposing the Constitution and Other Illusions" by Jerry Fresia...I read it a few years ago..very good.-Tony

Posted by tony at September 30, 2009 02:14 PM

Mike Meyer:

You used up all your hot stuff on that first comment, because now you're slandering and calumnifying my hero Ben. You cannot dash the last of my illusions that way, even if you are surrounded by enough cattle and rattlesnakes to make a transplanted Westerners tanish-brown with envy. Next you'll be trying to tell me that Tom Paine is one of Lou Dobbs' ancestors! You need to prove that slur against Ben or meet me out by the corral before sundown!

Posted by N E at September 30, 2009 03:38 PM

From the Putney Debates Oct/Nov 1647:

Maximilian Petty: We judge that all inhabitants that have not lost their birthright should have an equal voice in elections.

Colonel Thomas Rainborough: I desired that those that had engaged in it might be included. For really I think that the poorest he that is in England has a life to live as the greatest he; and therefore truly, sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that government; and I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that government that he has not had a voice to put himself under. And I am confident that when I have heard the reasons against it, something will be said to answer those reasons — insomuch that I should doubt whether he was an Englishman or no that should doubt of these things.

Ireton: That's the meaning of this 'according to the number of the inhabitants'? Give me leave to tell you that if you make this the rule, I think you must fly for refuge to an absolute natural right and you must deny all civil right; and I am sure it will come to that in the consequence. This, I perceive, is pressed as that which is so essential and due: the right of the people of this kingdom, and as they are the people of this kingdom, distinct and divided from other people; and that we must for this right lay aside all other considerations; this is so just, this is so due, this is so right to them. And that those that they do thus choose must have such a power of binding all, and loosing all, according to those limitations. This is pressed as so due and so just as it is argued that it is an engagement paramount to all others, and you must for it lay aside all others. If you have engaged any otherwise you must break it. We must so look upon these as thus held out to us; so it was held out by the gentleman that brought it yesterday.[2]

For my part, I think it is no right at all. I think that no person has a right to an interest or share in the disposing or determining of the affairs of the kingdom, and in choosing those that shall determine what laws we shall be ruled by here — no person has a right to this that has not a permanent fixed interest in this kingdom; and those persons together are properly the represented of this kingdom and consequently are also to make up the representers of this kingdom, who, taken together, do comprehend whatsoever is of real or permanent interest in the kingdom. And I am sure otherwise I cannot tell what any man can say why a foreigner coming in amongst us — or as many as will coming in amongst us, or by force or otherwise settling themselves here, or at least by our permission having a being here — why they should not as well lay claim to it as any other. We talk of 'birthright'. Truly by birthright there is thus much claim. Men may justly have by birthright (by their very being born in England) that we should not seclude them out of England, that we should not refuse to give them air and place and ground and the freedom of the highways and other things to live amongst us — not to any man that is born here, though by his birth there come nothing at all that is part of the permanent interest of this kingdom to him. That I think is due to a man by birth. But that by a man's being born here he shall have a share in that power that shall dispose of the lands here, and of all things here, I do not think it a sufficient ground.

Ireton was arguing for the 'Grandees' of the Army, and claimed that only men with property, ('permament interest in the kingdom') should have a vote in post civil-war Britain.

Colonel Thomas Rainborough, arguing for the common soldiers thought that every man should have a vote.

After near mutiny the Grandees consented to extend voting rights for the non property owning soldiers on the winning side but no further.

Posted by Euripides at September 30, 2009 03:42 PM

The constitutional convention was a coup. Its principal design was to increase the power of the central government because the vast majority of the participants had purchased debt incurred by the US during the war of independence (often at steep discounts) but the powers of the government under the articles of confederation to raise funds to repay those debts were limited.

Posted by Bill Jones at September 30, 2009 05:56 PM

N E: Franklin spent 3 years in LONDON waiting for an appointment to see King George. He wanted to get America to be able to print and distribute the KING'S POUND. Naturally he did NOT go there to stop the KING'S expantionist's policies. I guess he looked into the KING'S EYES and saw a george, maybe even a w. Soon after his visit with the king, he influenced Thomas Payne to immigrate to the New World. Don't they teach American History in public school anymore?

Posted by Mike Meyer at September 30, 2009 06:49 PM

N E: EVER wonder why the Indian ALWAYS got stuffed? It wasn't the technology, it was the salesmen.

Posted by Mike Meyer at September 30, 2009 07:03 PM

Wasn't Madison one of the more liberal founding fathers?
Posted by DavidByron at September 30, 2009 12:25 PM

Our standards have changed. Today a Rockefeller Republican can be a liberal, as long as he talks about hope and change, and objects if he is actually called a liberal.

Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush and Thomas Paine advocated for a sort of federal healthcare system, but they were commies.

Posted by grimmy at September 30, 2009 07:31 PM

grimmy: EXACTLY! Franklin would haved LOVED SINGLE PAYER. He wanted important services abd resources government controled. JUST like ANY normal imperialist would. Postal sysyem, fire departments, libraries, he gave it his best try, but one can only do so much. Its up US to carry on.

Posted by Mike Meyer at September 30, 2009 08:32 PM

Why Euripedes, thank you for that Leveller history!

Back in the 90s, Kevin Phillips took a few years away from politics to write an interesting book called The Counsins' Wars about the commonalities among the English Civil War, the American Revolution, and the American Civil War. It's well worth reading. I skimmed rather than studied it, but one thing I took from it was that there was to me a surprising level of intra-communal violence in all three civil wars, and some of the same cultural groups were at odds all three times. Those civil wars were wars of social upheaval at least as much as struggles over principle, and that social upheaval led to lots of bloodshed within communities as well as between contending political factions.

The march across history towards Equality and Justice usually hasn't been seen by many of the participants, and as an empirical matter, it isn't even there. Looking at history as a march toward Progress is so familiar to us now that it doesn't seem like a construct, but it is just as much as some crazy Hegelian theory; it's not a fact. What IS a fact is that many of the people who have played leading roles would disappoint or appall or shock us. And a lot of them were out and out pricks.

Posted by N E at September 30, 2009 08:41 PM

Mike Meyer:

Don't get cheeky too fast about your history, especially if you want to bring up Indians.
It was Ben Franklin who wrote, "If an Indian injures me, does it follow that I may revenge that Injury on all Indians?" Not so many Americans managed to think so clearly about that simple point across our sordid history of genocide. (Of all our Presidents, Abraham Lincoln showed the most character with regard to Indian matters, as any student of the Santee uprising of 1862 in Minnesota would know.)

That Franklin preferred Pennsylvania to be a royal colony rather than a proprietorship of the Penn family does not mean he favored royalism to republican or democratic government. He was no friend of the Crown, nor of the conduct of the British Empire. That he wanted the colonies to be able to mint money should NOT suggest otherwise to you. Any government that does not control its own money supply has limited popular sovereignty, which unfortunately includes us because the Federal Reserve controls the money supply.

Nor was Franklin often or widely perceived as a friend of the Crown, either in the colonies or in England. He especially worried that the colonies would end up in the same disastrous condition as Ireland, and that was the thrust of his opposition to British colonial policies. The Privy Council ultimately treated him as a fomenter of rebellion, so he abandoned his mission to help resolve the differences between the colonies and England and returned to Pennsylvania. Of course he sincerely wanted to resolve the difficulties, because civil war and revolution are bloody and risky. And of course he did not presume to instruct England on the proper scope of its overseas "commitments." It would have been considered a little forward of a colonial printer, not even an aristocrat, to lecture the Crown and Privy Council on such matters, so it probably wouldn't have accomplished anything useful. (Not that Franklin was deferential by nature--far from it.)

After the Declaration of Independence, Franklin was dispatched to France as Ambassador and within a couple of years concluded the treaty that made France the colonies' ally and won the war notwithstanding that not being the favored American public school version of events. He was no fan of Washington or John Adams, and John Adams, nothing more than a monarchist by another name, hated him with a passion.

I would bet they don't teach much of that in American history in public school, but I actually don't remember.

Franklin was of course a mercantilist in his economics. Even if he had lived later, after lassez faire classical economics became dominant, he likely would have seen some of the weakness and naked ideology behind that. He was after all, like Tom Paine, a friend of the people and very, very smart. (Anyone wanting to understand the rise of free market classical economics in the 19th century should read Karl Polanyi's The Great Transformation, especially if they are libertarians, though there is a danger of stroke or heart attack for the most ardent true believers in that camp.)

Posted by N E at September 30, 2009 09:39 PM

Remember, whether they had evil motivations or not, Madison and the rest still formed a truly liberal government that protected the minority. I emphasize that a liberal government is actually very conservative when it comes to actually passing new laws.

So why do neo-liberals cry about the effects of the 17th amendment, when what it really does is allow us to get all progressive up in that shit? Why act happy when you get a Social Security Act, but act sad when you get a PATRIOT Act? The stupid idea of "progress" ie progressiveness is the real root cause of all this nonsense, not just the 1/2 that progressives cry about or the 1/2 that "conservatives" cry about.

Posted by tim at September 30, 2009 10:03 PM

Mike, I don't think it's fair to call Franklin an imperialist, and as far as public control vs private, I think most of the founders weren't particularly hung up about demonstrating ideological purity the way many modern Americans are.

(sounds like the makings of a grad school term paper, "From Benjamin Rush to Rush Limbaugh: the stupidification of a republic")

In other words while N E is right to describe Franklin as a mercantilist, I'm guessing that if you suggested to Franklin that government programs to care for the sick or indigent or to deliver the mail were somehow incompatible with laissez-faire he would wanted to know what your point was.

Additionally, I think it's important to remind ourselves that the founders were by no means ideologically monolithic, and many were against imperialism, at least as far as how they understood the term(per Washington's farewell address, etc).

Of course by our modern understanding of the term, they made a pretty glaring exception for nabbing Indian land and moving westward.

Posted by grimmy at September 30, 2009 10:47 PM


Government, big or small or none, is a means, not an end. When the end is desirable AND it works, I'm for it. When the end is undesirable OR it cann't work, I'm not. When the end is desirable and it doesn't work but can be fixed, I'm for that. That is not a complicated position. It's really just common sense.

I like Social Security because I don't think old people should just starve to death and I don't have any ideological faith in the private sector. My view is the same for medicare and health care. I have no doubt that such systems could be made to work better than private market systems, and to tell you the truth, I'm pretty sure that even economic theory, for all its deficiencies, is on my side. We don't have a better system of providing health care and pensions and much other social welfare because of the power of private corporate interests, ideology, ignorance, and corruption.

Sometimes I think the problem is not either government or business but the basic input, people. Too many people are assholes, either because they are far too greedy or violent or bigoted, or because they are grifters or addicts of one sort or another or narcissistic or just otherwise selfish and socially untethered. If your society has too many people with no concern for anyone but themselves and lots of hostile feelings about others, that's tough to fix. I think many conservatives would agree with that and just conclude that government can't fix it and shouldn't try, but I think not trying just strengthens those harmful social attitudes and makes the situation worse. That's what we have been doing for decades now, and the results haven't been good.


I used to be confused by the anti-imperialist rhetoric of the founders about entangling alliances and the like. Washington in particular can sound anti-imperialist if his quotes are read out of historical context. Be mindful that the context of much of that rhetoric was a reactionary dislike for revolutionary France and the entangling alliance that Franklin and Jefferson had fostered with France. Almost everything of that period has to be understood against the backdrop of the French revolution. The Founding Fathers wanted no part of that sort of revolution, which would have cost them not just their slaves but potentially much of the rest of their property too.

I feel sure the Founding Fathers would have felt exactly the same way if no one had gone to the guillotine too, just as the fascists and crypto-fascists of the 1920s and 1930s would have hated communism even if Stalin had never killed anyone. Executions and purges and atrocities provide a much more popular grievance than property confiscation, but if history teaches anything it's that the rich never feel ambivalent about losing all their wealth and power.

Posted by N E at October 1, 2009 12:23 AM

Tim, I don't think James Madison and his ex-Loyalist cohort Alexander Hamilton had any illusions of caring for anybody but themselves. It was they who were promoting the Federalist Papers it was the States that demanded a Bill of Rights.

NE, tell me about it. When Americans rant about how unappreciative the French are of their young men dying on their soil (flashbacks to late 2002 and early 2003) they forget that it was the French who broke the British blockade that would have ended George Washington's revolutionary ambitions. It's even more mind-numbing how they then forgot how the U.S. government showed its appreciation to France by re-establishing relations with the British crown and beginning a low-level war with their liberator.

Posted by Nikolay Levin at October 1, 2009 03:40 AM

NE, yes people are assholes. And government is the means to protect them from each other and to promote self responsibility, which is the only logical way to operate as long as there are any selfish people left. Which I hate to tell you is forever.

So my point is, even if S.S. et al were created with good intentions, they do nothing but break down the social net, which is supported by individual self responsibility (and family responsibility by extension-- no man is an island). So if you look at the big picture, what you think is a fix for some problems, is really the cause of the government "not working." It starts as a "fix" for small problems, and only a few generations later, results in citizens completely dependent on the government. Please see the slippery slope we're on.

Nikolay Levin, I suppose they could have served their own interests at everyone else's expense, but they didn't. They served the minority interest. Why be so cynical about it? You don't need to forget yourself to help the greater good.

Posted by tim at October 1, 2009 03:32 PM


Individual and family self responsibility is a great notion, with lots of appeal, but it has thrived in people's minds more than in the world. People can be taken advantage of, especially when corporations have been developed for the express purpose of doing it. And that is without considering the many, many ways that people are ruined despite their reasonable efforts to avoid it in what has become a complicated world for a person to navigate. Sometimes even a person's best efforts won't be enough, and the family isn't enough protection.
Talk to Bernie Madoff's sophisticated victims for an appreciation of that. Or the people who trusted the bond ratings agencies like Moody's. Or all the people who got sick and lost their health insurance. Or others who have fallen into many more categories. John Donne didn't write "the bell tolls for you and your immediate family."

Of course dependency is bad. And of course people shouldn't be encouraged or even allowed to be grifters and addicts and users who contribute nothing to society. Giving people a modest provision for retirement in their old age and health care and education doesn't do that. Witness the rest of the world for evidence of that. What makes people grifters and addicts and users is something very different, and we have a whole lot of it going on in the United States despite all the enthusiasm for rugged individualism that people profess.

We are indeed on a slippery slope, but if you take a closer look at the glassy surface under your feet, you should see the shimmering surface of capitalism.

Posted by N E at October 1, 2009 04:39 PM

Tim sounds like a drown the gummint in a bathtub kinda guy.

Posted by Carl at October 1, 2009 10:06 PM

NE: I Individual and family self responsibility is a great notion, with lots of appeal, but it has thrived in people's minds more than in the world.

Yeah, thanks to the same Commie ideas you're having. Don't blame our American Fascism on capitalism, it was just a tool used and abused by fascists; just like "progressiveness" was used. It gets to a point that pie eyed optimism that pushes this commie shit is either naively stupid or cunningly evil. How are the victims of fraud the victims of capitalism? How are drug addicts the victims of capitalism? Because well meaning idiots and evil meaning fascists all want a welfare society with no responsibility?

Posted by tim at October 1, 2009 10:44 PM

I wuvs gummint

I (don't) wuvz Big Brother

Posted by tim at October 1, 2009 10:46 PM

You see... I don't like capitalism either.. but it works okay if the government acts as a law enforcer over it instead of a fuck buddy.

Really I'm a commie at heart, but that's a far cry from wanting to make the government communist.

Posted by tim at October 1, 2009 10:54 PM

But tim, WE are Big Brother,U&I. As far as a Welfare State, good luck on that, its ALREADY a Banker's Welfare State.
GREED AND STUPIDITY does NOT equal capitalism, its just plain old GREED AND STUPIDITY.

Posted by Mike Meyer at October 1, 2009 10:57 PM

National Socialism, AKA Fascism AKA NAZIism AKA Neoconservatism AKA PURE DUMBFUCK MATERIALIST SWINISM

Act 1: Alien and Sedition Acts
Act 110: Obama Care Tea Folly

I guess James Madison was a evil fucker.

Posted by tim at October 1, 2009 11:10 PM

Man, time and Mike Meyer, these three-ways with YOU GUYS are the BOMB! But don't be talking about fuck buddies because it makes me wish I still had my guns.

I keep going back and forth with myself about whether I'd rather be a well meaning idiot or an evil meaning fascist, but for some reason all I can think about is Donald Sutherland in Animal House saying that maybe the universe is both infinitely big and infinitely small AT THE SAME TIME.

I got all my Commie ideas from Jesus, who was more Methodist than Jew in my neighborhood, but Karl Marx knocked up his maid and married a Princess in addition to having a big Gehirn, so I like him anyway. (Go ahead, look it up.)

But tim, is your question really how are the victims of fraud and drug addicts victims of capitalism? Are you shittin' me? For every seller there has to be a buyer.

Posted by N E at October 2, 2009 12:07 AM

N E: THE LESSON of the Bush/Cheney years IS keep YOUR guns.

Posted by Mike Meyer at October 2, 2009 10:18 AM

Mike Meyer: And here I thought the lesson was to keep DICK CHENEY away from HIS guns!

Posted by N E at October 2, 2009 11:21 AM

N E YOU and most everyone else on planet earth would NOT make EVEN a phone call to have him IMPEACHED, why IN THE NAME OF COMMONSENSE would one EVER expect anyone to take away his shotgun?

Posted by Mike Meyer at October 2, 2009 12:02 PM

The idea of Dick Cheney being IMPEACHED by the United States CONGRESS really does make me chuckle.

You have your PHONE CALLS, and I have my own futile methods.

Posted by N E at October 2, 2009 01:02 PM

The constitution is interposed. It always is.

“Let me tell you something. Do you know that you have been deceived and cheated? You have been told that this government was intended from the beginning for white men, and for white men exclusively; that the men who formed the Union and framed the Constitution designed the permanent exclusion of the colored people from the benefits of those institutions. Davis, Taney and Yancey, traitors at the south, have propagated this statement, while their copperhead echoes at the north have repeated the same. There never was a bolder or more wicked perversion of the truth of history. So far from this purpose was the mind and heart of your fathers, that they desired and expected the abolition of slavery. They framed the Constitution plainly with a view to the speedy downfall of slavery. They carefully excluded from the Constitution any and every word which could lead to the belief that they meant it for persons of only one complexion.

The Constitution, in its language and in its spirit, welcomes the black man to all the rights which it was intended to guarantee to any class of the American people. Its preamble tells us for whom and for what it was made.”

Frederick Douglass (June 1863)

Posted by Galileo at October 2, 2009 03:08 PM

N E: The idea of keeping Deadeye from his guns makes me chuckle, too. (lawyers beware)

Posted by Mike Meyer at October 3, 2009 11:42 AM

People can be taken advantage of, especially when corporations have been developed for the express purpose of doing it.

And therefore the answer is to abolish both corporations and the shield from immunity that they offer their officers, directors, employees, shareholders.

One of the simplest steps to bringing some faint semblance of parity to the American experiment would be to abolish corporations, entirely abolish them and everything that flows from their existence as a legal matter. This, of course, would need to include abolition of PACs and the like.

Posted by The Anti-Federalist at October 4, 2009 02:51 PM

Well Tim, I didn't expect you to reply to my comment so I hope you don't mind that I'm late. Though I know I'm too late even for your unusually long stay, I'm going to try to explain this in clearer terms in the unlikely event that you're still here.

I'm sure if you'll re-look your notes in high school American History class you'll realize that even though the Constitution may dictate rule by checks and balances, and perhaps allow certain rights for States, there's nothing in the Constituiton that prevents the government from butt-#$%^ing you at the slightest whim. Only a Bill of Rights, added at the last minute at the behest of the agitated patriots, and a handful of amendments added later prevents that.

Given our state of affairs, that doesn't neccesarily guarantee anything. But that was clearly never Madison's idea.

Posted by Nikolay Levin at October 5, 2009 02:34 AM