If ever there was a time in American history when thinking adults and voters — terms which should be synonymous — need to take the time to read “The Federalist Papers,” that time is now.
Written at our country’s founding by three of the greatest political thinkers in modern history, is a series of 85 letters to the primary newspapers of the day under the pseudonym, Publius. These thoughts centered on how our government might be so constituted as to avoid the calamitous outcome that governments had for time immemorial experienced.
As John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison were aware, weak governments had historically failed to secure the safety from external enemies for their citizens. Arguably worse, strong governments had become the enemies within that had subjected citizens to predations worse than attack.
Fear and loathing of all-powerful central governments, such as the monarchies of Britain and France, encouraged Madison to staunchly resist the arguments for country as opposed to republic. Not only were the 13 colonies not disbanded as encouraged by Hamilton, they remained powerful local states and the value of local control encouraged the creation of 37 additional states over time, constituted locally to serve the unique needs of people therein.
Each of the 85 letters is a short, concise, intensely reasoned argument concerning the traps and pitfalls inherent in creating a new government where mainly a vacuum had existed after the British were sent home.
Most Americans would, I believe, argue that since the 1780s, when “The Federalist Papers” were written, the majority of the states have more aptly handled their affairs than has the federal government. Few state governments have ignored their own several constitutions in such a egregious fashion and to such destructive result.
And, while all governments tend to usurp their control of the private lives and property of citizens, the states have generally displayed a more measured response to the need to avoid anarchy. Voices cry out today from across the political spectrum for change. Most of these complaints are generated by anguish, not reason. Perhaps a country of more than 300,000,000 people can only be held intact by a dictatorial government as in China where 1.3 billion people do mostly as they are told. But for those of us who cherish freedom, I believe now is the time when the price of freedom must be paid. Who in the name of sanity is capable of leading that charge?
— Marvin J. Murphy, publisher