Constitution Day – James Madison

Happy Constitution Day! For those of us who are old enough to have taken that course in civics which seems no longer to be taught, James Madison was considered the father, or architect, of the US Constitution.

Like Aristotle, he decided it was better to study the different forms of government by studying the constitutions and the government that resulted from implementing those constitutions, rather than to invent the perfect constitution. Madison had many more examples to study than did Aristotle, but even Aristotle, with limited examples, recommended constitutional government over monarchy.

James Madison soon realized the key was to have separate branches which had checks on the other branches to provide balance. He wasn’t the only founding father who thought this to be the correct approach, but he had studied other constitutions and their working governments more than any other. Thomas Jefferson had similar opinions but they were friends from Virginia and worked well together. Madison, small in stature, was reported to have a mouse like or squeaky voice and he gladly let Jefferson do most of the speaking.

So when Glenn Beck did his Founders’ Friday on James Madison (6-11-2010), I was looking for things I didn’t know or had forgotten. And there it was, the 17th Amendment. He didn’t write the amendment, it removed the provision that US Senators be elected by State Legislatures and not by general popular vote. The reason for this was to provide a check on the federal government by the states. That is so James Madison.

The 17th Amendment came about because of corruption and the slavery issue. And here I thought it had always been one man – one vote. Well one man back then. But if you do a search on “repeal 17 amendment”, you will find more than a few sites. Why? Ever hear of “Unfunded Mandates”? The states are taking a financial beating on education and Medicaid, and almost every other federal program because they are required to provide a portion of the funding even though they never voted to do so. The states didn’t even have a say on forming the legislation. Would Tennessee or Massachusetts have voted for Obamacare? There really was no point since they already had state systems. So there is a growing movement to repeal the 17th Amendment by the states. Legal slavery is long gone but corruption will always be a problem. Still, the more local the corruption, the greater the odds it will be discovered.

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