After reading two back-to-back books explicitly describing the United States’ decent into tyranny, I’m having a hard time uncurling from a tight fetal position and proceeding with normal daily activities. So; taking a deep breath, flexing the fingers of my formerly clinched fists….Bob Hilliard’s The Handbook for We the People uses an approach that is very scholarly, but at the same time easy to understand and compelling. I’ll bet there are a number of you who have really struggled trying to read through the Federalist Papers in their original 1700’s vernacular, where we’re almost required to diagram each sentence just to keep track of the subject and predicates! Hilliard does us all a favor by quoting the authors of the Papers, using a 20th century vocabulary and dissecting our current political hodgepodge, using their words and thoughts. You probably won’t be surprised to note how many times the phrase “usurpation of power” is used.
Hilliard does a masterful job of detailing how all three branches of the Federal Government are bound by enumerated powers. Usually that term is used only for Article I Section 8 to describe the limitations placed on Congress, but there are enumerated restrictions placed on the Executive and Judiciary also. Needless to say, all three branches have ignored those restrictions for so long and so flagrantly that the public has been duped into thinking that what we see today is the normal state of affairs. Our Founding Fathers would strongly and eloquently disagree; and if their voices are not loudly heard here soon their legacy will be lost forever. The admonition to read and study this book are best stated by John Jay, one of the authors of the Federalists Papers and the Chief Justice of the original Supreme Court, when he said,
“Every member of the State ought diligently to read and to study the Constitution, and to teach the rising generation to be free. By knowing their rights, they will sooner perceive when they are violated, and be prepared to defend and assert them.”
Hilliard has a good grasp of history of the Amendment process up to a point. He recognizes that through the years, Amendments have been used to shift our inalienable rights from GOD to Constitutional rights, placing them at the mercy of every politician, President and Jurist who comes along, and decreasing our freedoms with every incursion.
We will now shift from “Book review” to “Op-Ed,” with the opinions being my own. Hilliard’s plan to restore the Republic is built on conditions that are probably unattainable today. It is true that we could correct the defects in our current government IF We the Electorate, would vote only for “just and moral” men with the integrity to put the national interests above their own. To select such men presupposes a pool… us… to make our choices from. No surprise, but we are no longer a CHRISTian nation. Looking at Founding Fathers speeches and proclamations you’d be hard pressed to distinguish them from sermon notes of those times. Another presupposition highlights that it is hard to find an informed and engaged electorate. Just watch “Watters’ World.” It’s hard imagining those folks even being able to dress themselves in the morning, much less being able to articulate the reasons for their political proclivities.
For the above reasons, it would seem that even as a stopgap measure Article V would offer some hope to prolong freedom by amending our present Constitution by a Convention of States. Delegates to such a Convention would be bound to limited subjects set by their respective States. The limitations on delegates’ activities are backed by heavy fines for going rogue. They could also be recalled by their respective Legislatures for deviant behavior. With our ability to instantly communicate delegate’s activities, they would be closely monitored by their States. We would not see anything like the 80-mile horseback ride of Caesar Rodney to return to Philadelphia to cast the deciding vote for OUR Declaration of Independence. Even with the very remote possibility of a “runaway” convention, the ratification of any Amendment requires the approval of three-fourths of the nation’s Legislatures. Translated, that means that if just 13 of the 100 Legislative bodies disapproved of an Amendment it is dead. It requires almost no imagination to see 13 deliberative bodies disapproving of an Amendment to take away our right to bear arms. Backing for this option comes from the fact that it is the only path that is showing some signs of life with a prospect, however transitory, of correcting a runaway Federal government. It would be wonderful to return to the relatively pristine social and cultural conditions of the late 1700s, but without some cataclysmic event to shake us back into that state of mind, the Article V option seems to offer a way forward with some hope of success. It was Founding Father William Penn who succinctly stated our current condition in the US of A., “A people who will not be governed by GOD will be ruled by Tyrants.”
The choice is ours. That is why I promote the reading and study of books such as Hilliard’s, because you can never tell how a succession of steps taken by the motivation of this book could lead to the restoration of our Republic to the benefit of our own progeny and the freedom-loving world, wherever it may be found.