Howdy from Texas. I thank you for joining us today and I thank our friend, Professor Morrisey, for his wonderfully insightful essay.
Responsibility. Reasonable Responsibility. These were and are the qualities needed in the Senate. These were and are the qualities needed in the American public. We, the “genius of the people,” hold in our hands the direction of our country and we either fail, or do this well, depending on our level of responsibility.
Our representatives have responsibilities but so do we.
Educating ourselves on the Constitution and the engine of our government, seeking to understand the issues of the day and future, inspiring family, friends and children to be active patriots, being vocal and voting – these are the responsibilities of the people of a Republic.
I am encouraged because there appears to be an awakening and we, the citizens of America, are getting more involved in the affairs of our government – governing through our informed choices. This is rather vital as it is, “we the people,” who govern. The Congress is a reflection of our voice, our vote. We must take responsibility for it.
In America we are still are able to do just this – take responsibility for our government. We want to keep it that way.
Publius felt that it was important that the people’s passions were kept in check by the cool meditations of the Senate – a check. This was also a check against tyranny.
“Before such a revolution can be effected, the Senate, it is to be observed, must in the first place corrupt itself; must next corrupt the State legislatures; must then corrupt the House of Representatives; and must finally corrupt the people at large. It is evident that the Senate must be first corrupted before it can attempt an establishment of tyranny.”
James Madison talks about the vulnerabilities that Senates had faced throughout history – the vulnerability of being taken over by the people’s branch. One such example was from the British.
“The British history informs us that this hereditary assembly has not been able to defend itself against the continual encroachments of the House of Representatives; and that it no sooner lost the support of the monarch, than it was actually crushed by the weight of the popular branch.”
James Madison, ever ready with an historical reference or two, mentioned past Republican examples: Sparta, Rome and Cathage.
“As far as antiquity can instruct us on this subject, its examples support the reasoning which we have employed. In Sparta, the Ephori, the annual representatives of the people, were found an overmatch for the senate for life, continually gained on its authority and finally drew all power into their own hands. The Tribunes of Rome, who were the representatives of the people, prevailed, it is well known, in almost every contest with the senate for life, and in the end gained the most complete triumph over it. The fact is the more remarkable, as unanimity was required in every act of the Tribunes, even after their number was augmented to ten. It proves the irresistible force possessed by that branch of a free government, which has the people on its side. To these examples might be added that of Carthage, whose senate, according to the testimony of Polybius, instead of drawing all power into its vortex, had, at the commencement of the second Punic War, lost almost the whole of its original portion.”
All I want to know is – what happened in 1913? How was the 17th Amendment allowed to happen?
James Madison seemed to believe that if an usurpation ever were to happen, it would be restored by the people.
“We are warranted in believing, that if such a revolution should ever happen from causes which the foresight of man cannot guard against, the House of Representatives, with the people on their side, will at all times be able to bring back the Constitution to its primitive form and principles.”
James Madison is referring to the Senate becoming an aristocratic or independent body. Yet, is not the usurpation of the Senate by the 17th Amendment, (foregoing the states), not an equal violation of our founding father’s intended balance of powers? Is it not reminiscent of James Madison’s British, Sparta, Rome and Cathage examples?
Are we able to bring back the Constitution to its “primitive form and principles?”
Caution must be taken in regard to the new movement to do away with the Electoral College. There is a movement to do this through state legislatures. Only an informed and “responsible” people can prevent this from happening.
We must pay heed and take action so our posterity does not say, “What Happened in 2012 or 2014? How was the removal of the Electoral College allowed to happen?”
Saturday, July 24th, 2010