Timothy N. Baldwin, JD.
July 17, 2010
There is no question that the United States Constitution was considered to be an EXPERIMENT. The Federalists and Anti-Federalists alike admitted it was an experiment, and it has been described as such ever since. Evidently, Americans use the term not knowing what it actually means or implies. So, what was it that made this form of government experimental? Before answering the question, let us initially identify what was NOT unique about the U.S. Constitution--aspects that many probably consider to exhibit the unique and singular greatness of the U.S. Constitution, but in reality, are not unique at all and were in fact borrowed.
First, the separation of powers in the federal government was not new. That element of government had been around literally since Moses governed Israel in Canaan. Great Britain exercised a separation of powers as well: executive power in the Monarch, legislative power in Parliament and judicial power in the courts.
Second, that the form was a democratic-republic was not new. The European states and countries had exercised self-government to a greater degree than just about any other people in the history of the world. Thirdly, the experiment was not in having a bill of rights. Such an acknowledgement of people’s rights had existed in the European countries since the Magna Charta in 1215. Neither did the experiment lie in such components as term limits, voting, limited government authority, a two-house congress and the like. All of these had been well established throughout the governments of the world. All of those aspects were a given, but were only debated in terms of preference and compromise.
The U.S. Constitution was in fact not new on virtually every component of its composure. So, what made it an EXPERIMENT, such that the freedom it (along with the State constitutions already in place) was supposed to protect was very susceptible to abuse and destruction? What was it about the U.S. Constitution that would transform its character from one governing the consent of the governed to one governing by the force of the Supreme Sword of the federal government? What was it about the nature of the constitution that carried with it serious risk in its implementation? And indeed it was risky, for why would the form of government be considered an experiment if the risks (now and the future) would not seriously jeopardize freedom? If the potential abuses were not serious in nature and scope, then there would be no need in describing the form of government as an experiment.
In short, the EXPERIMENT was the attempt to form distinct parallel lines of powers to the State governments and Federal government with respect to their separate delegations; to allow “two sovereigns” to “occupy” the same territory over the same people; and to entrust each representative in those governments to stay within its own sphere of delegation; to allow for a standing military in the hands of the federal government and a militia army of the people in the hands of the States. This was the experiment in the world of political and social science: having two “sovereigns” with completely different purposes over the same people throughout different states with different interests. For many during that day, it was literally considered impossible; thus, the experimental nature of attempting to.
I submit, that while a good run was made of the experiment, the results of the test are in, and the experiment proves to have failed. I understand that it is hard for Americans to reach this conclusion for a variety of reasons, and this is not surprising, for as our founders said, “all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” After a while, this disposition to suffer reaches the level of voluntary and consensual slavery. To avoid that treachery, freedom-loving Americans need to get over themselves and their substance-less pride and do what is right for freedom’s sake.
Do I love America? Absolutely. I love its history, legacy and heritage. I study it every day. But I love freedom more--freedom that I want to experience myself, not just read about in history books. I can assure you, however, I have no permanent affection towards forms of government. They are merely tools to reach an end, namely freedom. Government is our servant and we its master. When government becomes destructive to freedom, I have no qualms about abolishing the existing government and forming new government to secure what God has granted to me, my wife, my child, my family, my community and my body-politic.
Do I believe that the U.S. Constitution equates to freedom? Absolutely not; no more than I believe that a law acknowledging my right to defend myself grants me the right to blow a would-be rapist to smithereens if he were to attempt to hurt my wife and child. I believe what human history proves, that a constitution is only one of the measures in society to protect freedom; that a “constitution may happen to be free, and the [citizen] not”; and that a constitution can become practically useless in restraining government. I believe that constitutions should be formed and re-formed by a body-politic as they deem it necessary to protect themselves.
I do not understand the mentality of those shallow-thinking citizens who have the bumper sticker approach to government, “Support America. Be American!” as if to say, resistance to government or abolishing government contradicts our patriotic duty and is un-American. To the contrary, doing your patriotic duty means being ever vigilant and honest in your evaluation of political and societal conditions. It means being liberal-minded (not in the political-party sense) in our approach to government, and if necessary, instituting new forms.
so surprising that the societal and political changes over 250 years would
completely change the character and nature of a union and the application
of the “Supreme Law of the Land”? The union and the U.S. Constitution
were actually bound for deconstruction, just as all governments are and
all political unions that attempt to be perpetual. That the Tower-of-Babel-mentality
can be successful mocks common sense and historical proof. Human nature
does not allow it. The form of government of the U.S. Constitution was
an experiment, admittedly not destined to live forever, for as soon as
society’s character and nature change, so does the constitution
governing those people.
Do you think that the philosophy, beliefs, cultures and morals of a people can substantially change but the “Supreme Law of the Land” remain the same as to those completely different people in completely different times and circumstances? Get real.
Justice Joseph Story, one of the most nationalistic-minded of the founding generation, admits the same thing. Concerning the inevitable fall of the political experiment, the U.S. Constitution, he says,
“[T]he fabric [of the constitution] may fall; for the work of man is perishable. Nay, it must fall, if there be not the vital spirit in the people, which can alone nourish, sustain, and direct, all its movements.” 
This “vital spirit” of freedom has so long been absent in this country and in such a shortage of knowledge, virtue and energy that to suggest freedom can be restored in America through the current union and form of government calls into question the judgment of those who honestly hold that opinion. Does this mean that freedom cannot be restored in America? Absolutely not. Freedom can be restored and it will, but only in those places where the people believe in and practice independence, honesty and self-government enough to part with the federal government that has filled the gap of the people’s irresponsibility and lust for comfort and money with tyranny and oppression.
Does the U.S. Constitution contain good principles? It sure does. It contains principles that had been accepted through political enlightened thought for centuries, just as the British Constitution did. Yet, despite containing good principles, the founding generation believed that constitutions notwithstanding, there comes a time when to remain in a political association shirks our duty to God and man. Do I believe the U.S. Constitution is perfect? Absolutely not. Neither did the founders as they said they were only forming a “more perfect union,” in anticipation that their posterity (and even current generation) would retain the priority of their virtue, morals and good faith.
This description of the U.S. Constitution necessarily means that there could be a better constitution; a better form of government; and an even more perfect union. But such a “better” government will not be obtained by keeping a union so large with a constitution that “grants” to the federal government plenary power to govern hundreds of millions of people for the supposed “general welfare” of “all” and to pass any and all laws “necessary and proper” in the “pursuance” of (e.g. “living constitution”) such ends; and where the people in the States have lost virtually all control over internal polity and interest in the name of the “Supreme Law of the Land” imposed upon us since Chief Justice John Marshall rendered his opinions in the early 1800s.
I propose this truth: a constitution is to be judged by its practical merits and revealing experience and not upon some indeterminable “intent” of what the “founding fathers meant.” Moreover, I ask, which founding fathers? The ones that preferred a monarchical form of government and believed the U.S. Constitution to be a consolidating effect upon the people as one body-politic? The ones that believed that Great Britain’s form of government was the best in the world and should be replicated here and who thought the U.S. Constitution was a stepping-stone to that end? The ones that imposed nationalistic practices in the federal government even during the first term of the United States’ first president? Hoping for a return to “what the founders intended” is chasing a moving shadow and ignores the reality of what this union has become “in pursuance of” the U.S. Constitution, all the intentions in the world notwithstanding.
You may argue that those nationalistic-supremacy ideas were not the ones accepted by the founding fathers (which ones?), yet history proves that the federal government has reached its current status largely with the consent of all three federal branches throughout the past two centuries, in the authority of the U.S. Constitution, even from the very beginning. Has the constitution stopped this power crave and expansion? Do you think that the U.S. Supreme Court Judges have not put good reasoning to their opinions when they analyze the constitutional powers granted to the federal government? Are they all just a bunch of idiots or conspiratorial maniacs, or has the constitution not adequately maintained the lines of parallel power between people and federal government and between State government and federal government, that being the very core of this constitutional experiment?
The federal government even fought a Civil War against fellow Americans to retain this “constitutional” Nationalistic Supremacy over the people of the States to govern themselves, all under the authority of the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Constitution’s effect to this national-supremacy-end has only intensified since then and gotten progressively worse. If it took over two hundred years to get to this point, which you may perceive as constitutional degradation, how long do you think it would take to get back to 1787-intent using the same constitution that has empowered the federal government during those 200-plus years? Let us shed these illusions based merely in the wishing and not in the reality.
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America’s founding generation told their posterity that this form of government was an EXPERIMENT. Like them, we should recognize the reality that one day new forms of government would need to be instituted for freedom’s sake, just as they showed us in the Declaration of Independence, which cited not the English Constitution as a basis of their right to live freely, but the Natural Laws of God. These laws are based upon the principles self-preservation, -defense, -improvement and -government. We, their posterity, must make similar decisions, using their good example, to secure freedom for ourselves and our posterity. May we endeavor to experiment in freedom once again.
Charles de Baron Montesquieu and Julian Hawthorne, ed., The Spirit of
Laws: The World’s Great Classics, vol. 1 (London: The London Press)
2, Joseph Story, A Familiar Exposition of the United States Constitution, (New York, NY, Harper and Brother, 1868 reprinted), 100-101.
� 2010 Timothy N. Baldwin, JD - All Rights Reserved
Timothy Baldwin is an attorney from Pensacola, FL, who received his bachelor of arts degree at the University of West Florida and who graduated from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham, AL. After having received his Juris Doctorate degree from Cumberland School of Law, Baldwin became a Felony Prosecutor in the 1st District of Florida. In 2006, he started his own law practice, where he created specialized legal services entirely for property management companies.
Like his father, Chuck Baldwin, Timothy Baldwin is an astute writer of cutting-edge political articles, which he posts on his website, www.libertydefenseleague.com. Baldwin is also the author of the soon-to-be-released book entitled, Freedom For A Change, in which Baldwin expounds the fundamental principles of freedom believed by America’s forefathers and gives inspiring and intelligent application of those principles to our current political and cultural standing.
Baldwin is involved in important state sovereignty movement issues, including being co-counsel in the federal litigation in Montana involving the Firearms Freedom Act, the likes of which is undoubtedly a pivotal and essential ingredient to restoring freedom and federalism in the states of America. Baldwin is also a member of freedom organizations, such as The Oath-Keepers, and believes that the times require all freedom-loving Americans to educate, invigorate and activate the principles of freedom within the States of America for ourselves and our posterity.
Web site: LibertyDefenseLeague