Monday, October 25, 2010

The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States (part III)

Constitution Preamble

A good friend asked me the question of what other type of hierarchy of power was there other than an hierarchy of federal, state, county, city government where the federal government is the dominant government and the other governments are subordinate governments? This is a good question because it is the hierarchy of power used by every nation in the world now including our own. We can find this hierarchy as a basis of power going back thousands of years.

Our nation was not founded on this basis of hierarchy though. We were founded on the basis that the States, collectively and individually, retained self rule. With this retention of power we can see why our new nation was considered a new experiment in governing. It is also why the fathers were considered as liberals in the classical sense of the definition of the word.  It was a brand new idea of the way to govern.

From this, the hierarchy was established of the federal government being subordinate to the collective of the States and the county and city governments being subordinate to their respectful individual State. But in order to understand how this was accomplished a person must clear his mind of the biased thoughts of the traditional hierarchy. Once a person can do this they can see how radically the founding fathers changed the way of governing.

The founding fathers set up a way of governing that divided foreign affairs and domestic affairs. And it was divided this way based on the idea that each State was a self ruled State. Thus what constitutes foreign affairs and domestic affairs is determined by what they would be to a State either on an individual level or on a collective level.

In regards to domestic affairs each of the States would be the dominant power. Thus we see a hierarchy of power in terms of domestic affairs as being State, county and city. In regards to national foreign affairs power was given to the federal government with the indirect consent of the States through the Senate which has sole “advice and consent” powers. This arrangement applies in other acts of the President also such as the appointment of federal judges. Thus we have an hierarchy of power with the federal government being subordinated to the collective of the States.  this is also why the Constitution gave the State governments the power to chose their Senators rather than to the people.

We can see this arrangement in another area also. It is found within the Constitution when it addresses the idea of amendments. While the federal government may seek greater power through amendments those amendments must first get direct consent of the collective of States. Through the Constitutional conventions means of amendments we can see that the States do not need the consent of the federal government either directly nor indirectly for it to be binding upon the federal government.

A sidenote:
One more issue that can be seen in this viewpoint is the issue of the conscience vs the will of another in regards to where power lies. To declare that the will of another is the determinate factor it must be seen as having direct or indirect consent of the other on an particular act. In other words, a person may rule but only by the direct consent of his constituents. Once he has this consent he may act upon his own conscience in the making of those rules as long as he acts within the powers as given him by the Constitution.

This is supported by the fact that he takes an oath of obedience to the Constitution rather than taking an oath of obedience to his constituents. This would be further evidence to the fact that declaring our form of government a democracy is misleading. In a form of government called a democracy that person chosen would be taking an oath of obedience to his constituents.

Back on track, with this arrangement settled that left only one other area to be settled, interstate commerce and the Constitution reveals that the federal government can regulate that. Basically what this did was deny any State the right to regulate any commerce once it crossed outside of its borders and denied any State the right to regulate any commerce prior to entering into its borders. It essentially, by concept, created a free trade agreement with all of the States.

This was significant in the light of how many wars were fought in the world as a result of regulations of inter-State travel of commerce among the nations of the world. Seen in this light we can see that the primary reason of uniting the States as a single nation with a central government was to address the issue of the possibility of war, both on the domestic as well as on foreign level.

Through this arrangement, the people considered themselves as citizens of their respectful States. Through this arrangement, people could cross borders without the need of permission to enter another State. Through this arrangement people could emigrate from one State to another and become a citizen of that State only by setting up residence there. There was no need of visas nor was there any need to apply for citizenship.

It is through this arrangement that we can understand the value of why free independent republics such as Texas would seek entry into this type of governing. It would take a mighty powerful argument for me to believe that Texas who had fought a war to gain their independence would seek entry into an union where it would then lose their independence. But that is a question only a person who holds to an ideology that promotes the traditional hierarchy of power would need to answer.

And it is this, that as one friend has said, that has libertarians angry with President Lincoln. It was the Civil war that resulted in an inversion of this established hierarchy. They feel that this inversion of power was illegally attained. They feel that if there is to be any inversion of power that it should be accomplished through the Constitutional way which is by direct State consent.  And when you think about it they have a valid point.

In conclusion, this viewpoint of the hierarchy of power would support the interpretation of the preamble as viewed in the first part of this series. And it is this viewpoint that defines the Right in regards to political philosophy in this nation. It has nothing to do with extremism as the right has been accused of by many.


Lista said...

The Actual First Attempt at Governmental Structure was done with the Federalists Papers, yet the Whole Reason for the Constitution was because it became Obvious very Quickly that the Form of Government set out by the Federalists Papers was not Working.

The Constitution was Written because it was Obvious that some Form of Federal Government was, In Fact, Needed.

Due to Computer Time Restraints, I was only able to Read Half of the Above, Stopping at the "Sidenote", yet I do want you to know that so Far, I am Following what you are saying, in that the Federal Government (The Presidency) is Subordinate to the States (The Congress), or more Specifically, the House of Representatives.

Correct me if I'm Wrong, but I Think that Originally the House of Representatives were Elected by the People in the States, but not the Senate, but there was an Amendment that Changed that.

In Light of that, the Federal Government (the President and Senate) were Subordinate to the States (the House of Representatives). Now the Federal Government (the President) is Subordinate to the States (the Entire Congress, including Both the House of Representatives and the Senate).

This has always been True. It's just that the People are so Easily Deceived that it is Easy to Rule over them just Based on the Deception during Elections.

The President has a Considerable Amount of Power, though, in the Form of a Veto.

Lista said...

"It was the Civil War that resulted in an inversion of this established hierarchy."

Ok. Now you Lost me. Isn't the Federal Government Still Subordinate to the States (the Congress)?

Since I have been Interacting with Libertarians, I have Realized that they are Actually the Ones who Hold to the Extreme Positions that I Oppose. This is not just the Right, but the Extreme Right and there is a Difference.

I guess I'll have to Read "Part I" of your Constitution Series. I Missed it somehow.

The Griper said...

he just smiles at lista's response but decides to wait until she has had the opportunity to read the whole post before responding to her comment.

Lista said...

Ok. I Read it. Go Ahead and Respond.

The Griper said...

the concept of State rights are the rights of rule. so, when it is seen that the States lost their rights as BB pointed out in the comments of a previous post it is in reference to this. and that loss of rights resulted in the inversion of the hierarchy of power that you asked about and was the subject of this post.

Lista said...

Since the President is Still Subordinate to the Congress, the States are Still Ruling. As Long as we Keep Electing Representatives that Believe in Large, rather than Small Government, we are Giving Permission for the Power to Remain where it is.

The Main Right that was Lost by the States, as the Result of the Civil War, was the Right to Allow Slavery. If there was something other than that, then you have not Explained it Adequately.

BB-Idaho said...

Did BB say the 'states lost their rights?' BB mentioned the weakening of
state powers when the Articles were dumped in favor of the Constitution.
BB noted that 'states rights' were an excuse for slavery, meaning an artificiality which never existed, but an excuse to promulgate the institution of slavery. Regarding the Civil War, he noted,
"While that preserved the union, states rights has continued to be an argument
for those disagreeing with
national policy (Eisenhower federalizing
Arkansas troops and sending
combat units to Alabama-first time since Reconstruction) argument essentially between states rights and civil rights" by which I believe he meant that civil rights (the individual) trumps state that Amendments thereto protect the individual from the state..which is constitutionally enforced by the nation. Perhaps
BB was unclear (I think so, he is no constitutional scholar, but a commoner) :)

Gorges Smythe said...

The Griper is correct, Lista. It WAS the Uncivil War that ended the proper hierarchy. Of course, then we can ask if it was the Lord's will, so we could be a united country and win two world wars (but that's a whole NEW subject, and purely speculative).

The Griper said...

what the States lost was the right to make their own decisions on the issue of slavery as was the right of all States. this right to make that decision had been exercized previously by other States of the union thus, proof that it was a State right of rule.

The Griper said...

yes you did and here is your quote

"The States have already lost their right of self rule."
Yep, that was hashed out at Gettysburg, Jul 3, 1863"

this quote is found back in my post in regards to voting for a Master or a servant. and that was the first inspiration for this series.

The Griper said...

Good observation in regards to whether it was the will of God that prompted these events. and it could be an inspiring basis of another post if i decide to run with it.

BB-Idaho said...

"The States have already lost their right of self rule."
I suppose...if you consider 'self rule' as a constitutionally guaranteed
'states right'. The 10th
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." and the 'necessary & proper'
clause would seem to
preclude 'self rule' by
the states.
The right for a state to have legal slavery is perhaps the poorest of excuses for 'self rule'.

Lista said...

Gorges Smythe,
I'm going to say the Same Thing to you that I have said to Griper. Just Taking one Item Away from the Rule of the States does not Leave the States with no Self-Rule at all. The Self-Rule of the States has been Eaten Away Over Time. No Single Event has Caused the Total Loss of the Self-Rule of the States.

I Agree with BB. State Powers were Weakened, but not done Away with and the "States Rights" idea was an Excuse for Slavery, yet this never was Constitutional.

I Found his Comment about the Conflict between "States Rights" and "Civil Rights Interesting. That is "States Rights" Verses "Individual Rights", in which "Individual Rights" Trump "State Rights".

When he said that the Amendments were Added to Protect the Individual from the States, this Rang True to me, because when the People Feel Mistreated by the State, they go Over the Heads of these Authorities and Seek Help from the Federal, thus Granting the Federal more Power because they are Unhappy with the Authority of the States.

To me, you are Perfectly Clear and I Agree with everything that you have said in both of your Comments since I Last Wrote.

The Griper said...

BB, and lista,
a question:
what are your ideas of the meaning of the political term, self rule? from your responses i can see that we have to have different ideas of its meaning.

BB-Idaho said...

Self-rule is typically defined as self government.
Rather cyclical definition.
The concept likely arose from the US revolution as
a counter to 'foreign rule' for ever since colonies have clamored for
self-rule for better or worse. And it goes on..
Basques, Chechnyans and the like. I must apologise, for political
and constitutional history are not great areas of interest (though such arguments have led me to read several books on the matter), but would recommend for those interested, the Federalist Papers of Alexander
Hamilton, pen name 'Publius' and the
Anti-federalist Papers of
Samuel Bryan, pen name
'Centinel'. These hash out the arguments preceding the transition from the Articles to the Constitution. Further
reading about how the
common populus felt among the varying states might be found in the new book
'Ratification' by Pauline
Maier. With the previous
caveat, IMO, most, if not all, current argument is based on that of the earlier time.
It might be instructive, or of interest to compare and contrast the Constitutional preamble to that of the Articles of
"To all to whom these Presents shall come, we the undersigned Delegates of the States affixed to our Names send greeting.

Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union between the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.
....but I ain't gonna do it! :)

Lista said...

The Political Term that is more Familiar to me is the Word "Sovereignty". I have no Clue what you mean by "Self Rule", so I went with what I Knew. The Phrase "Self Rule" Might be even Better, though, because I don't Think it Implies the Extreme to the same Extent.

Here is a Definition of Sovereignty...

"1) Supreme Excellence or Supreme Power or Dominion. 2) Freedom from External Control, Autonomy. The Quality or State of being Self-Governing."

I Like the Second of these Definitions. I do not Feel, though, that the States have ever been Entirely Sovereign.

When you think about it, Perhaps no Government is 100% Sovereign, for whenever we Enter into a Treaty of any Sort, we Forfeit a small Portion of our Sovereignty. Treaties are Necessary, yet we also Need to be Careful to not Forfeit too much of our Sovereignty.

"most, if not all, current argument is based on that of the earlier time." BB

You Know, I just said something Similar to that in a Comment on the Next Post Down.

Lista said...

Before I Move on to another Post, there was something in my Comment that I want to Expand Upon.

When ever we Enter into a Treaty or Contract we Forfeit a small Portion of our Sovereignty and yet Treaties are Necessary. The Constitution was such a Treaty between the States.

Do I Dare Mention the Word "Compromise"? Sometimes Treaties and Contracts are Necessary even though when we do this we "Compromise" our Sovereignty. The Question is Exactly how much should we Forfeit or Compromise and when should we stop doing so?

This is True in Relation to State Sovereignty, National Sovereignty and also Individual Sovereignty and Freedom. Though I believe in "Compromise", there comes a Time when there is a Limit and we come to a Line Over which we should not Cross.


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