Monthly archives "April 2011"

The Federalists vs. The Anti-Federalists

Most of us once had at least a working knowledge of The Federalist essays of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay.   From October of 1787 to August of 1788 they made their case in a series of newspaper articles for the passage among the states of the Constitution which had been agreed to on September 17, 1787.    To preserve their identity they wrote under the name, Publius.   This was the nickname of a Roman aristocrat who, in 6th century B.C. Rome, helped end the monarchy and set up a Roman Republic.   The name means “friend of the people.”     The moving force behind The Federalist was Alexander Hamilton who asked Madison (considered the father of the Constitution) and Jay to join him in writing these essays.   Jay contributed only five with the rest authored by Hamilton and Madison–sometimes in a collaborative effort.    As persons noted the quality of their writing they began to speculate as to who were the writers.    To divert, Hamilton would sometimes write an article himself guessing who had authored his own work.

Not so well known or long remembered is a group of essays known as The Anti-Federalists.   There are several reasons they are largely forgotten.   One is, with the exception of Melancton Smith, Robert Yates, and the speeches of Patrick Henry, the quality of the writing of the Anti-Federalists did not match that of the Federalists nor did their acumen.   Second, there is a stigma to being anti as opposed to pro something.   And finally, and most important, The Anti-Federalists did not prevail and so were left, to some extent, on the sidelines of history.

These gentlemen also wrote under pen names.    Melancton, who was Alexander Hamilton’s equal in intellect and skill, wrote under the name The Federal Farmer.   Yates chose the name Brutus, like Publius, a founder of the Roman Republic and assassin of Julius Caesar for the sake of ending the monarchy.    Their argument was essentially that there are great dangers in a strong central government.   By the way, Thomas Jefferson, who was representing us in France at the time, was aware of and stood with the Anti-Federalists at a number points.    So did Ronald Reagan.   The modern Tea Party is heir to the Anti-Federalists.

Melancton Smith, Robert Yates, Patrick Henry and to some extent, Thomas Jefferson, anticipated such men as FDR, LBJ, and most dangerous of all, Barack Obama’s, coming to power.   They were among those who insisted on The Bill of Rights which includes the right to bear arms and the largely usurped Amendment X which guarantees to the states all the power that is not expressly given to the federal government.    Even some Democrats like Joe Lieberman understand these dangers.   But too many modern Democrats are hostile to individual freedom and to the Constitution.    Some of them openly objected to the reading of the Constitution in the House of Representatives at the opening of the 2011 session under Republican control.   Too bad.   They most needed it.   Not all objected, however.    Congresswoman Giffords of AZ (God speed her healing) read part of it.

There is a balance and reason to the American system and in many of the American people.    That is why the radical Barack Obama and his party took such a licking in 2010.   The President overreached because he does not understand our Constitution (and does not like what he does understand) or the limits to his power.  In some ways we are helped by the fact that Obama, while dangerous, is also a comic figure.    In 2008 he said his campaign visited all 57 states.   He honors “corpsemen.”    On Saturday he rushed out to the Lincoln Memorial to take credit for keeping the Federal government open which allowed tourists to come to this site honoring our greatest President.    In reality this memorial is out in the open and never shuts down whether the government is open or not.    Second, Obama did not lead in the budget battle.    He is running up from the rear.

But this does not make Obama less dangerous.   Jimmy Carter was incompetent.    So is Barack Obama.   But Obama wants power in a way Carter did not.   And he sees himself as superior to mere mortals who cling to guns and faith.   He and his party must be defeated.    May November 2010 be only the beginning of the emergence of sensible leaders who understand sacrificial service.   May it be a new day for sensible Anti-Federalists in The Tea Party who understand the dangers of a central government with leaders drunk on power.   May it be a new day for our generation and the next and one yet to be born.   May it be so.