Political Secularization

James-Madison

While I don’t believe President Trump is clean as the driven snow, I don’t think he has any “collusion” or “obstruction of justice” dirt on him. There may be other stuff, but what the Mueller Mob is doing can truly be defined as punishment by process absent of any underlying crime (at least any crime with in his purview). Ask Scooter Libby and Martha Stewart how that works.

I was reading some of my old posts and came across this, the third paragraph from Federalist #51, written by James Madison. I’m certainly no constitutional scholar and I do not qualify as even a docent regarding such matters, so I can only write of my understanding of these words. They strike me as so powerful that even today, some 230 years hence, they reach out to us with such relevancy not to be ignored. I split the paragraph into three sections as this is how my thoughts were organized.

“It is equally evident, that the members of each department should be as little dependent as possible on those of the others, for the emoluments annexed to their offices. Were the executive magistrate, or the judges, not independent of the legislature in this particular, their independence in every other would be merely nominal. But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. “

The real danger in any democratic republic is no different today than it was in the post-Revolutionary War days as America began to define itself. It is that of factions and collusion between those factions. Madison is noting how dangerous it is for members of the various branches of government (or those with a certain branch) to collude with each other in service to anything that is not defined in the Constitution. I do not think it is possible to consider the Mueller investigation, the Clinton email debacle, and many other cases where government servants colluded to circle the wagons to protect each other. If there is to be a poster child for this process, it would seem James Comey would fit the bill. Comey sees himself as that last honest man for whom Diogenes was searching as he wandered the land with lantern in hand.

“The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place.”

This is clear and straightforward. No one in government should be concerned with any other question than “is what I am about to do consistent with the Constitution of the United States. No other ambition, passion, avarice, or political stratagem should ever be at play as the government executes its enumerated duties and powers – period. Planning government actions to advantage one or the other politically is the end of constitutional government and the destruction of the free state. I have used this analogy many times – if the speed limit is 70 mph and someone exceeds that limit, what then is the new limit? At that point, the true limit is the top speed of the vehicle and how fast the driver is willing to go. The same with government – once a limit is exceeded, there is only how fast and how far the driver of government is willing to take it. This is why the idea of a “living constitution” is patently absurd, for if we are not to abide by the limits of the document, why go to the trouble of designing them in the first place? If the words have a plastic meaning, why even waste the time debating them?

“It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

Madison notes here that people come before government and therefore government is the creation and servant of the people – but he also notes that human nature is what it is and as much as it is possible to corrupt an individual, since government is made up of people, it can be corrupted as well. The challenge is for the people to retain the power to put a bit in the mouth of the government mule and to haul back on it when the mule is headed in the wrong direction. More can be learned about any government by observing how it treats its members compared to how it treats its citizens. If the people enjoy the same rights and protections as those in government service and are free from arbitrary and capricious application of laws and regulations, then the government is fair and just. If they do not, then the government is unfair and unjust.

If government is to be secular, let it not be only a secularization based on faith in God, let it be also a political secularization where the religious aspects of ideology is banned, and the only motives present are those aligned with the Constitution. The only relevant question to be asked is not can we do a thing (because a prosperous and powerful republic can do anything), but based on the guidance of the Constitution, should we do that thing.

 

 

Talk Amongst Yourselves:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.