1787 Philidelphia convention

Article V and The Federalist No. 1

By Rodney Dodsworth – April 22, 2016

In my April 20th post, I connected our existing and dire situation with that of 1787. Despite the differences between then and now, there is at least one commonality: the fear that a demagogue, a man who promises to relieve us of our misery, might emerge from the increasing anarchy and social disorders. Alexander Hamilton wrote that men who overturned republics always began their public work by proclaiming their devotion to the people.

In words that ring true today, Hamilton’s first Federalist explained the situation that faced America. The young country was at a crossroads; its very existence was in the balance. The nation was to decide whether society can establish good government through thought and choice, or whether people are forever destined to be ruled by accident and violence. The answer depended on the nation’s response to the crisis. The wrong decision deserved to be considered a misfortune for all of mankind.

Then as now, Americans have a choice. Shall we succumb to the course of current events and continue our slide into arbitrary rule by the executive and judicial branches, or step back from the abyss and work to restore free government?

Article V opponents point out that powerful forces with vested interests in the existing corruption will stand athwart reform. Hamilton would agree, for the new 1787 plan of government was similarly opposed. He noted that the Constitution affected so many institutions and interests that passions opposed to truth and the common good would join together in opposition. The first opponents to improvement of the union would be that class of men in every state whose prestige, power and wealth might be diminished. Today, “that class of men” inhabit Washington, DC. They will certainly fight like demons to retain their privileges.

2017 Phoenix convention

Hamilton identified another sort of opposition from a class of men whose “perverted ambition” sought to profit from the anarchy, or from high positions in future partial confederacies as the union flew into pieces. Today, we need only ask the likes of President Obama, George Soros, Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch if fomenting disorder and societal collapse isn’t profitable or at least personally rewarding.

However, rather than brush all opponents with ulterior motives, Hamilton recognized the existence of heartfelt and honest disagreement. The new plan of union deserved thorough examination, and through examination, Alexander Hamilton hoped to expose the truth: the present form of government was insufficient, and that a federal republic was necessary to the preservation of liberty and happiness.

Today there are honest, sincere opponents to unknown change, to risking an Article V convention to reform our corrupted system. But as in 1787, the cure for what ails our union is federalism. In 1787-88, the people at their state ratification conventions couldn’t be sure of what to do; in 2016 we need only look at their example for the solution.

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