Now that Mitt Romney has been chosen to represent the GOP (aka Republican Tea Party) in the upcoming 2012 presidential elections, it’s only a matter of time before the political rhetoric and mudslinging begins in earnest. Based on the past, it can be asserted with reasonable accuracy that some candidates will attempt to affirm the righteousness of their ideals in part by invoking the intent of this nation’s Forefathers. In doing so, the United States Constitution will more than likely serve as the benchmark in determining our Forefather’s intentions, as well as ammunition for advancing the ideals of today’s candidates.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with using the Constitution as a means to determine our Forefathers’ intent, it’s not necessarily the best means. There are other avenues available that provide a greater sense of understanding regarding our Forefathers’ intentions. One such avenue includes the Federalist Papers
The Federalist Papers, also known as The Federalist, is a collection of 85 essays penned by notable forefathers Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. Writing under a common pen name of “Publius”, Hamilton, Madison, and Jay sought to present and champion to the general public the premise behind what would eventually become the United States Constitution. The first of these essays was rather unremarkably titled “General Introduction” (The Federalist Papers).
In “General Introduction”, Alexander Hamilton highlights the deeper meaning and implication in adopting the “new” Constitution. Not only did the fate of the Union hinge on its ratification, the Constitution would determine “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” (The Federalist Papers: Federalist No. 1). It’s reasonable to infer at this point Hamilton wanted all to understand the gravity of the situation. Not only would ratification of the Constitution ensure the continued existence of the Union in the short term, it would prove to the world this rule by the people “experiment” was legitimate and capable of standing the test of time.
Hamilton also touched upon the morality of the situation, elaborating upon the interests of those opposing the Constitution. Hamilton specifically “called out” a “certain class of men in every State to resist all changes which may hazard a diminution of the power, emolument, and consequence of the offices they hold under the State establishments; and the perverted ambition of another class of men, who will either hope to aggrandize themselves by the confusions of their country, or will flatter themselves with fairer prospects of elevation from the subdivision of the empire into several partial confederacies than from its union under one government” (The Federalist Papers: Federalist No. 1). In elaborating upon this opposition, it can be asserted Hamilton highlighted the inherent danger of those that put their own personal good (and greed) before the good of their country.
Some will argue that our Forefathers’ musings no longer have relevance in today’s day and age. However, one of the most amazing things about our Forefathers was their ability to understand the future. Not only did they make decisions based on the needs of their immediate situation, they recognized their decisions would impact a future of which they had no idea of. As a result, our Forefathers’ words still bear relevance today, perhaps more so than ever before.
The concerns Hamilton expressed in “General Introduction” can be applied to the political “cluster-f*&k” this country finds itself in today. As our economy continues to stumble, we once again find ourselves having to prove to both ourselves and the world that we truly are capable of establishing a good government from reflection and choice. As today’s “leaders” in Washington continue to resist the changes necessary to ensure the future success of this country, the morality of these leaders is once again questioned. Personal, perverted agendas are being advanced which only serve to aggrandize and elevate today’s representatives at the expense of those they are supposed to be representing.
If today’s candidates are going to affirm the righteousness of their ideals by invoking the intent of this nation’s Forefathers, they would be wise to gain a better understanding of that intent. As it stands now, it seems as if too few truly have this understanding. As a result, the misinformed attempts by today’s “leaders” at tapping into the visionary prowess of our Forefathers only serve to illustrate and magnify the hypocrisy and ignorance of today’s elected officials.
The Federalist Papers. (n.d.). Retrieved May 20, 2012, from The Library of Congress Thomas: http://thomas.loc.gov/home/histdox/fedpapers.html
The Federalist Papers: Federalist No. 1. (n.d.). Retrieved May 20, 2012, from The Library of Congress Thomas: http://thomas.loc.gov/home/histdox/fed_01.html