The Founders’ Distrust


The Founding Fathers, Hallowed be Their Names, were a distrustful lot.

They did not trust Executive Power (something about having a King that wouldn’t listen to them!)…so first created a government without an executive at all.  That experiment did not turn out so well—the Congress created by the Articles of Confederation was similar to today’s Congress…often gridlocked.  Their second attempt at the formation of self-governance did create the Presidency, but his powers were circumscribed.  (Imagine their surprise at the relative power today between the Presidency and the Congress.)

They did not trust a Standing Army…and so forbid one.  Any federal army raised had its existence limited to the length of a Congressional term, that of two years.  (Sounded good on paper, but the modern world and military/industrial complex has made that desire somewhat mute.  Imagine their shock at today’s budget in which half goes to Defense.)

They did not trust the military…so ensured that it was subject to civil authority.

They made the Presidency the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, but did not trust his use thereof…so made their use in war dependent upon the concurrence of the Congress.  (Imagine their dismay that the military is now deployed in undeclared conflicts with regularity.  Such would have been an anathema to them as well.)

They did not trust the Executive with the Treasury or Revenue…so arranged that the People’s House of Representatives had to initiate any Bill of Taxation or Spending.

They did not trust religious sects and their propensity to seek preeminence and State sponsorship…so they separated religious observance from governance.

They did not trust the States…so they created a body of representatives elected directly by the people.

They did not trust the masses…so often limited suffrage to free white property owners with a “stake” in the system.  Universal suffrage was a long time in coming….

They did not trust the people…so they created a body in which the State legislators would pick the representatives to ensure the several sovereign States would hold sway.

They really did not trust the people, so they created the Electoral College to select the President.

They did not trust the Legislature…so they created a Court to oversee enacted laws.

They did not trust government itself…so created a Bill of Rights to limit the reach of Government.  The rights were drawn and based on similar Bills that each of the colonies, now States, had developed.

They did not trust factions and were fearful of insurrections…so gave the Federal Government the authority to call out the armed citizen militias (since there was no Standing Army)—which were to remain officered and trained by the individual States.

The Founders had the specific intent to limit the reach and power of the individual, the State, the Congress, the Presidency, and the Courts in relationship to each other.  They not only limited the power of each entity, they attempted to limit ways power could be abused.

Given all the safeguards they attempted to install in the new Constitution, is it really plausible that the Founders would comport with the assertion that in a civilized society, it would be right and proper for any untrained, unregulated, un-officered, undisciplined, unsupervised, untethered individual be allowed to have the power and capability to murder scores within minutes?  There are obviously those who believe members of society should be armed to the teeth against each other—but that position should be argued on its own merits (if there are any).  Don’t bring the Founders into it…they were not so trusting.

About Monk

Schooner Captain, pilot, and aikidoka
This entry was posted in Policy Politics and Punditry. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Founders’ Distrust

  1. John & Beti Duke says:

    thanks Glen a great read, reminder and definitly I will pass on… Hope you are well John D

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Barry McMahon says:

    In God we do not Trust?? Interesting take on the formation of our government. Thanks. Keep ’em coming.

    • Monk says:

      Just “interesting”,..not “insightful and astute”? (Or perhaps “incite-ful and provocative”?) And yes, I don’t recall they had much trust in god either…they knew they were on their own. Thanks for your guidance…Monk

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