I am reposting a series of essays I wrote prior to the 2008 elections. You may find them interesting.
There has been a lot of talk this election regarding the role of
Government in our lives. I will try to speak in general terms when
discussing this issue and use the generic term Liberal and Conservative
to label the various viewpoints. Using the political party labels is
difficult as the Republicans and Democrats reversed positions on the
roll of Government during the 1890s.
For the purpose of this discussion, Liberals
will be those persons who believe in a strong Federal Government and an
increased role of all levels of government in the social, political,
and economic policies of the Republic. They believe man needs to be
governed. Conservatives will be those who believe in a limited
Government, firm believers in the policy of the Government that governs
least, governs best".
To understand the Constitution we must take
a quick side trip in history to the time of Enlightenment and the
changing roll of Government and The Church in Europe. Some people decry
the Eurocentric historiography of America, but in reality the
foundations of our Nation and its government come from Europe. In
particular the lawyers and printers and educated class of Colonial
America came primarily from England. These are the men who crafted our
founding documents and designed our Nation's political system.
stop stop (insert braking sound here). To get a complete understanding
of this subject we are going to have to go back and discuss the
religious, political and economic evolutions over about three centuries.
We will have to delve into the Crusades, the Magna Carta, Martin
Luther, Charles Martel and then tackle Locke and Columbus, Cortez, and
Hudson. The reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. This is going to take
about 20 posts and 5 hours of reading for you. Before I go much further I
will have lost 79 of my 80 regular readers. My last reader at that
point, GuyK, will be skimming since he already knows the history.
a compromise I am going to ask you to take my word the Founders
believed certain things, they were educated in a certain way. If you
have further questions or doubts I will be glad to answer your specifics
directly or point you in which direction to do your research. Besides,
this should have been covered in school. Unfortunately most text books
cover these subjects but never tie them in. Historians often think the
non-historian can make the connections or is even interested enough to
try. Most people cannot and are not. The teaching of history is a
completely different bug up my ass we will discuss at a later date.
the early 1700s farmers comprised only a little more than 1/3 of the
workers in Great Britain. As a heavily populated island nation, Britain
depended on her colonies to supply raw materials and foodstuffs. The
American colonies were among the chief suppliers. At the same time
nearly 80% of the American colonists were involved in agriculture. Few
in Europe were land holders, an astonishing 90+ percent of colonists
owned land. Americans enjoyed significant freedoms not allowed in
Britain. A century and a half of what has been termed "benign neglect"
from the Crown of England saw the colonies develop their own political
system, including local and "state" governments and courts. None of
these were sanctioned by the King or Parliament, but the appointed Royal
Governors used them to efficiently run the colonies. As long as the
colonies made money for English merchants and caused no trouble, they
were left alone.
As part of a greater European War (The Seven
Years War), the Colonies and their British Sovereign found themselves
embroiled in a war with France in the 1750s and early 1760s. The theater
of war that occurred in North America was the so called French and
Indian War. You may have a vague recollection of this -- it was covered
in the first weeks of 8th Grade history. This war was one of the root
causes of the Revolution.
The Treaty of Paris settled the
conflict and Great Britain came into possession of most of what is now
the US and Canada east of the Mississippi. as a result if the War, the
Crown was heavily in debt. As we know from Iraq, wars are uncommonly
expensive. Without boring you with details -- that is not our purpose
here -- the interest on the debt alone consumed about 70% of the gross
revenues of the Royal Treasury. The people of great Britain were already
among the heaviest taxed in Europe and the King was looking for
additional revenue. He turned his eye westward to his rich American
Stick with me. In the next post we will get to how this
led to the Revolution, The Declaration of Independence and the
Constitution. We will examine the politics that leads to modern Liberal
and Conservative thought.