Friday, May 18, 2012

Founding Fathers: Libertarian?

For the last few weeks I have been working on a different project that had me reading a great deal of period newspapers from the founding era of the U.S. What struck me about what I was reading, aside from the things dealing with the specific topic, was how much the people of the day cherished and defended their new freedom, regardless of where they fell on the political spectrum. In reading a newspaper from June of 1789, I was treated to the text of the very first proposals for amendments to the constitution. What was wonderful about this was that it shows so clearly and succinctly what the founders intended for this Republic, and it should show to anyone that they would be really disgusted with what our government, at all levels has become.

Disagree? Read through a couple of these and decided for yourself:
The people shall not be deprived or abridged of the right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments, and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable.

The people shall not be restrained from peaceably assembling and consulting for the common good; nor from applying to the legislature by petitions, or remonstrances for redress of their grievances.

The right of the people to keep & bear arms shall not be infringed,; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country; but no person of religious scruples of bearing arms, shall be obliged to render military service in person.

The rights of the people to be secured in their persons, their houses, their papers, and their property from all unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated by warrants issued without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation or not particularly describing the places to be searched, or the persons or things to be seized.

The exceptions here or elsewhere in the Constitution, made in favor of particular rights, shall not be so construed as to diminish the just importance of other rights retained by the people; or as to enlarge the powers delegated by the Constitution; but either as actual limitations of such powers, or as inserted merely for greater caution.

...that no state shall violate the equal rights of conscience, or the freedom of the press, or the trial by jury in criminal cases.
Think about how things would be right now if these original amendments had gone through as proposed. Certainly would have cleared up a lot of confusion and the parsing of words and definitions. We can easily see how things got screwed up, because the text we are familiar with is all right there, just in different orders, and with a lot more description and declarative statements.

Really fascinating,  how about that complete constitutional incorporation on the States for freedom of religion, speech and trial by jury? And this was proposed and defended by Madison himself. Not really taught today.

Check out the far more robust and declarative statement of what would eventually become part of the Fourth Amendment. This would be a world that would never allow drones to fly over your backyard. Courts would pretty clearly side with you as opposed to the government over things like your cell phone being searched.

Imagine a world where the clauses did not get jumbled, and the government very clearly and succinctly said that you the individual, not a collective construct of the state government, had a right to keep and bear arms, and the militia part comes second.

This is a world that would never tolerate, even for a moment, an itinerant fascist like Mayor Bloomberg searching every person of color on his shitty islands to make sure they were being good.

There certainly would not be “free speech zones” at political conventions or a need for reporter shield laws in this world. NDAA, indefinite detention, waterboarding, none of it would have happened.

This is a world that would understand the idea of a “limited government” and the need to keep the government limited in its scope, size and power. In a word, it would be a far more libertarian Republic today.

Damn shame how things actually turned out.