“A republic, if you can keep it.”

I have been reading, ever so slowly, a book called “Everything You Know About The Constitution is Wrong” by Edward James Snowden.*

It is quite an education for me, disabusing me of several notions:

  • Secession was not a right, and those southern states that did secede could only do so for abuses by the Federal government, which were mainly economic (tariffs) and could have been remedied. Having no other just cause, their only reason became slavery, so that indeed the Civil War was about that one thing.
  • The debate over a Bill of Rights has been muddled over time. The founders understood human and natural rights and common law, and were adamant that those rights existed and were not granted by any governmental body. So when finally the ten amendments were included, it was only to mollify certain vocal interests. The wording of the amendments was to reinforce the idea that the federal government could not interfere with rights as they existed.
  • All those rights not listed still existed, even if unenumerated.
  • The founders abhorred standing armies. And corporations. They knew stuff.

We are looking at two countries, one pre- and one post-Abraham Lincoln. He saw it necessary to save the union, knowing that the continent would be Balkanized if the South were allowed to secede.

In saving the union, he destroyed the Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment changed the structure of government and created a new country, one in which the federal government ruled supreme over the states; one where lawmaking is done by decree by an appointed body, the Supreme Court.

Those who hearken back now to the founding document are invoking a ghost. Our constitution is hopelessly muddled and confused, our laws and principles arbitrary and changeable at the whim of five people.

“It is hilarious that American gun-nuts who treasure their Second Amendment “rights,” and yet who rail against “activist judges” who grant abortion rights not expressly named in the Constitution, only got their beloved right to bear arms as a national right through activist judges in 2010.”

Prior to the Fourteenth Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms existed and could not be tampered with by the federal government, though states were free to restrict it. Post-14, the Second Amendment was “incorporated” into the Fourteenth, and was granted to the people by judges appointed for life. The states are unable to tamper with it.

The same is true of all the amendments, and not all of them have been decided to exist. (Freedom of speech only came to exist in 1925.)

Here we sit, owned and run by oligarchs and corporations, having a standing military making nasty all over the globe, lacking even a scintilla of resemblance to the republic founded in 1790.

Jefferson thought it wrong for people alive to be governed by ghosts, and thought we should re-write our basic document every generation. It is far too late for that. The federal government is a monster that is beyond control, and the country, now an oligarchy, bears so little resemblance to a republic that the term is no longer useful.
*I suspect he uses the middle name so not to be confused with the (fake) whistleblower Edward Joseph Snowden. However, it is difficult to find any biographical information on this Snowden. Perhaps the name is a pseudonym.

About Mark Tokarski

Just a man who likes to read, argue, and occasionally be surprised.
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11 Responses to “A republic, if you can keep it.”

    • Interesting article, I mostly have encountered it before. A couple of caveats … If we don’t even have a clear history of fifteen years ago, much less two weeks ago, how on earth can we Imagine we understand Roman times? They surely had scribes covering up the deeds of the powerful as they went along, just as we do now.

      And, anyone who imagines that Obama is part of “the left” is a few cards short of a deck. That is Limbaugh’s schtick, to convince his followers that Obama is a leftist, thereby protecting Obama. It is called “political cover.”


      • Luckyman says:

        “anyone who imagines that Obama is part of “the left” is a few cards short of a deck.”

        Absofreakinglutely, Nixon and Reagan were further “left” than Obomber has been. It also appears that Eisenhower was a “communist” compared to OB. I’m surprised Joe McCarthy didn’t go after Eisenhower.


  1. steve kelly says:

    Nothing that happened after Europeans occupied North America occurred in a vacuum. Every dog has its day. Ours is a very short history. From Republic to Empire and now collapse may be a new record, second only to Europe. China, Russia and the Arabs (7,000 years) measure history in millennia. We do not learn from history very well at all. Saker has an interesting piece (with the usual thoughtful comments):

    “The Century of War actually started in the late 1800’s, brought on by the constant squabbling between the interrelated ruling royalty of Europe and culminating in the total destruction of empires extant at that time. However, the war has continued and the true two main protagonists are now publicly revealed, Russia and USA, this revelation occurring to anyone with eyes and ears as Berlin was still smoldering in May of 1945. Everything that has happened in western cultures and in reality the world since that fateful day is woven in to the fabric of the ongoing struggles between the two main protagonists.”

    “France died on the icy roads back to Poland from Moscow under Napoleon two centuries ago . The corpse was twitching until the disaster of Verdun in the ‘first’ war, the War to End All Wars. England and her empire died on Flanders Fields. Old Germany ceased to exist in fall of 1944 under the relentless air attacks of Bomber Harris in England by US Air Forces under his command. Japan died in Nagasaki and Hiroshima.” – Auslander http://thesaker.is/century-of-war/


  2. Big Swede says:

    Left or right seems insignificant. I more interested in the parallels.

    “Populist politicians arose and agitated for the rights of regular Romans; the patricians were scandalized and fought back, sometimes killing the populist leaders.”-Townhall.

    Asassinations await Bernie or Donald?


    • We are a little long in the tooth to be just knocking off politicians, and Bernie is merely a sheepdog for Hillary, and so presents no danger.

      Trump I am not so sure of, but it does appear that Cruz is the anointed one, so it would be a matter of rigging the convention, running a third party candidate, or ceding the seat to the Democrats for four years even though it is the Republicans’ turn now.


  3. larry kurtz says:

    Well, Toke: your stopped clock is keeping perfect time.

    America has become the Hamiltonian Empire Thomas Jefferson warned us about. Jefferson not only believed a standing army and the right to bear arms are mutually exclusive he would not plant tobacco because he believed it to be bound to the capitalism he abhorred. He chose cannabis as his crop of choice for its utilitarian applications and believed cities were dens of crime and debauchery. Jefferson invoked natural law in many of his letters and serve as the best interpretations of his creed. He also thought the Earth was far older than 6,000 years…maybe even 60,000 years old.

    The policeman to the world without charter has become the target of the free peoples subject to it so the assumption of privacy died long ago thanks to the culture of paranoia created by the Hamiltonian Empire.

    Good that you read more than your own tea leaves, Mark. Keep it up.


    • larry kurtz says:

      Jefferson invoked natural law in many of the letters that serve as the best interpretations of his creed, rather.


    • As I say, it troubles me that we don’t know history of 15 years ago but presume to know the details of Jefferson’s time. even as we know that scribes are rewriting things as we go. There is an objective reality, but it is to be found in our own interpretation of history using our brains and resources.


      • larry kurtz says:

        Jefferson died leaving his daughter with a mountain of debt much of it accrued through his hare-brained interpretation of a reality that he believed to be objective.

        You should know that i’m a Democrat and a party donor because there is no other real choice to advance my personal agenda and not because that party holds some moral high ground.


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