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.