Opinion by Paul Plante
By way of review, this series of disquisitions under the heading Life in a Time of Lunacy, where “lunacy” is defined as extreme folly or eccentricity, or extreme foolishness, or even unsoundness of mind sufficient to incapacitate one for civil transactions, stem from a guest essay in here entitled “On the vanishing Virginia Constitution and what that should mean to all of us” wherein reference was made to a thoughtful, well-researched, well-reasoned and scholarly essay from the University of Richmond Law Review entitled “A VANISHING VIRGINIA CONSTITUTION?” by The Honorable Stephen R. McCullough, Judge, Court of Appeals of Virginia wherein this following statement was made, to wit:
In recent decades, however, the most fundamental rights protected for Virginians by the Virginia Constitution have been, for all practical purposes, steadily vanishing.
HO HUM, ain’t it, people?
What we never knew we had in the first place, we will never miss.
With respect to these times we now find ourselves, which make the surreal VEET NAM times look tame and pedestrian by comparison, where we are faced with further entrenched and concentrated power at the federal level from one or both major-party candidates, Judge McCullough had these words to say on the subject, as if he had prescient vision:
The notion of protecting the sovereignty of Virginia might seem highly abstract or even anachronistic in an age of robust federal power, but that is not so.
Concentrated power was one of the principal evils the Framers of the United States Constitution sought to avoid.
The horrors of the past century that were inflicted upon the world by totalitarian regimes offer ample evidence of the wisdom of avoiding concentrations of power.
Concentration of power was considered a principal evil by the Framers of the United States Constitution, people, and why not?
When the Federalist Papers were being written in 1787, the Battle of Saratoga, where King George’s land army under General “Gentleman Johnny” Burgoyne had been soundly defeated to the shock of the candid world, was only ten years in the past, and their recollections of a tyrant king were still quite strong.
We should give some thought to that, as we just had two more American soldiers killed in the never-ending war in Afghanistnam that has been going on for so long now, I can’t remember, with us like Brer Fox and Brer Bear, caught up in Brer Rabbit’s trap with no way back out, and as we mass boots on the ground in Iraqinam, and soon Syria, to get us further mired down in armed conflict in the Middle East, again, with no way back out, as when the Roman Crassus, who greatly resembles at least one of the major party candidates, the one who started the trouble back in 2011 as U.S. secretary of state, took on the Parthians.
And when we speak of concentrated power being was one of the principal evils the Framers of the United States Constitution sought to avoid, we are led directly to Cato, as New York State Governor George Clinton (no known relationship to either Bill or Hillary) and his Letter V from the New-York Journal, November 22, 1787, to the Citizens of the State of New York, where Governor Clinton, who would go on to serve as U.S. vice-president under two different presidents, informed us of his purpose in writing, as follows:
In my last number I endeavored to prove that the language of the article relative to the establishment of the executive of this new government was vague and inexplicit, that the great powers of the President, connected with his duration in office would lead to oppression and ruin.
Has that happened?
Can that happen?
Something to think about, anyway, as we head into this 2016 presidential election.
Getting back to George Clinton writing as Cato on November 22, 1787, with respect to the executive, he went on to state “That he would be governed by favorites and flatterers, or that a dangerous council would be collected from the great officers of state, — that the ten miles square, if the remarks of one of the wisest men, drawn from the experience of mankind, may be credited, would be the asylum of the base, idle, avaricious and ambitious, and that the court would possess a language and manners different from yours.”
Perhaps it is me, people, but how true that sounds.
And on he went, as follows: that if you adopt this government, you will incline to an arbitrary and odious aristocracy or monarchy that the president possessed of the power, given him by this frame of government differs but very immaterially from the establishment of monarchy in Great Britain.
HOLY COW, people, ZOUNDS, there is a dude who is on a veritable roll right there!
“If you adopt this government, you will incline to an arbitrary and odious aristocracy or monarchy that the president possessed of the power, given him by this frame of government differs but very immaterially from the establishment of monarchy in Great Britain.”
Those, people, are strong words indeed.
And who really was he taking to there?
Could it be us in our times today, do you think?
And what of this:
Before the existence of express political compacts it was reasonably implied that the magistrate should govern with wisdom and Justice, but mere implication was too feeble to restrain the unbridled ambition of a bad man, or afford security against negligence, cruelty, or any other defect of mind.
Consider this, people, as you consider how to cast your vote – mere implication was too feeble to restrain the unbridled ambition of a bad man/woman, or afford security against negligence, cruelty, or any other defect of mind.
That is why we are supposed to have a Constitution that is law of the land applying to everyone equally, including presidential candidates, in this country.
And the term “express political compact,” of course, refers to a written constitution, such as the one in place in New York state at that time which was said to be justly celebrated, both in Europe and America, as one of the best of the forms of government established in this country by Alexander Hamilton writing as Publius in FEDERALIST No. 26 for the Independent Journal to the People of the State of New York in 1787.
Bringing this even more forward to our times, Governor Clinton stated thusly:
It is alleged that the opinions and manners of the people of America, are capable to resist and prevent an extension of prerogative or oppression; but you must recollect that opinion and manners are mutable, and may not always be a permanent obstruction against the encroachments of government; that the progress of a commercial society begets luxury, the parent of inequality, the foe to virtue, and the enemy to restraint; and that ambition and voluptuousness aided by flattery, will teach magistrates, where limits are not explicitly fixed to have separate and distinct interests from the people, besides it will not be denied that government assimilates the manners and opinions of the community to it.
The progress of a commercial society begets luxury, the parent of inequality, the foe to virtue, and the enemy to restraint.
Is he talking about our times, or what?
And then, George Clinton posed this vital question to the people of New York at that time:
Is it because you do not believe that an American can be a tyrant?
To which he then answered:
If this be the case you rest on a weak basis; Americans are like other men in similar situations, when the manners and opinions of the community are changed by the causes I mentioned before, and your political compact inexplicit, your posterity will find that great power connected with ambition, luxury, and flattery, will as readily produce a Caesar, Caligula, Nero, and Domitian in America, as the same causes did in the Roman empire.
Will as readily produce a Caesar, Caligula, Nero, and Domitian in America, as the same causes did in the Roman empire.
Can that really be so, people, that Americans are like other men in similar situations?
And here I was, thinking it couldn’t be so because we are so exceptional.
Silly me, ain’t it.
And does that sound the plot of a dynamite HIP-HOP rock opera along the lines of “Jesus Christ, Superstar?”
Why, if done right, I bet it will be even bigger than “Hamilton,“ and that, people, is really saying something.