The more I read from the Founding Fathers in either the Constitution or the documents debating it (Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers) I find myself feeling rather dwarfed by their intellect and wisdom. Seeing and hearing the politicians of our day and then reading the words of the Founding Fathers makes me realize we have prostituted our government just as they were afraid we would.
The Founding Fathers knew the dangers of a federal government from both history and experience and put in place safeguards to help protect us from ourselves. They also knew some sort of federal government was necessary to band the states together for the common good of all the states, to assuage the natural animosity between neighboring states, as well as for settling disputes between the states. Prior to the ratification of the Constitution, in an attempt to urge other members of the Federal Convention to sign and approve the Constitution, Ben Franklin penned these words:
“…I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other.”
It’s amazing how right he was. Knowing the history of republican governments of Rome, Athens, Carthage, and Sparta, the Founding Fathers knew it was only a matter of time before the nature of man corrupted a near perfect form of government with the quest for power. At its core, the federal government was designed to strengthen the position of the states, not weaken them in favor of a federal government. In fact, prior to 1914 and the 17th Amendment, Senators were appointed by the state legislatures. The states then had some say in Congress. Now that the Senate is elected by popular vote, the only job they seem to care about is the job of re-election. When Congress only cares about re-election, they will do what is politically expedient to garner more power. That power will eventually turn into Despotism.