The District of Columbia is not a state
Another progressive idea seems to be to treat Washington DC, the seat of the United States government, as a de facto state. This may seem reasonable, but it violates the rule of law. The 50 states of the Union had to apply for statehood, according to the guidelines set forth by the Northwest Ordinance, among which are the submittal of a state Constitution, and agreeing to be bound by the United States Constitution. (29) The area of land which comprises the District of Columbia is under the sole jurisdiction of the United States government, in a totally separate capacity than the 50 states of the Union, who are under the jurisdiction of law established by the United States Constitution. (30a) Washington DC is no different than any other territory owned by the United States government; those currently organized being 1) Guam, 2) Northern Mariana Islands, 3) Puerto Rico, and 4) United States Virgin Islands. (31a) If Washington DC has not officially acknowledged our Constitution, then why should it be allowed to actively participate in matters concerning it?
Well progressive thinking has managed yet another structural change with the ratification of the 23rd Amendment on March 29th, 1961. (32) This amendment assigns electoral votes to Washington DC for the purposes of electing the President of the United States. The Constitution was disrespected once again with the passage of the 23rd Amendment. As close as the last two presidential elections were, D.C.’s two (or three as in the 2004 election) electoral votes could prove critical in the upcoming 2008 election. In essence, their votes could elect a President who can be instrumental in further restructuring our Constitution, to which D.C. itself isn’t even bound. The question then becomes: what makes D.C. more important than the other territories listed above to warrant it preferential treatment?
As if this was not enough, there is now a push to treat Washington DC as a Congressional District for legislative purposes and officially convert its non-voting delegates in the House of Representatives into full voting members. The bill is known as the “District of Columbia Voting Rights Act of 2007.” (33a) This, all without official statehood status, or officially being subject to the limitations imposed on states in the first article to the Constitution. (3c)
The Founding Fathers first and foremost wanted limited government. By limited, I mean limited in its power and influence. The first governing document of the United States, and precursor to the United States Constitution, was the Articles of Confederation, ratified on March 1st, 1781. (34) As noted in Article 2, (35a) each state retains its “sovereignty, freedom, and independence.” Article 3 goes on to establish that the United States as a league of states united ". . . for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them . . . ." (35a) The framers of government were very weary of centralized government control, but deemed it a necessary evil for the general welfare of all. The Articles of Confederation authorized the Congress to only act according to the powers assigned to it by the governing document. The powers assigned the government were so few and decentralized, that the Articles failed as a legislative document. If this pact between the states were to work, they would have to give the government a little more control.
Reluctantly, in the wake of the failure of the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution was drafted and proposed to the states. The federal government had been assigned more powers at the expense of the states, and as a result, the Constitution almost failed ratification. Massachusetts, and other states, demanded that the Constitution be amended to further safeguard against potential abuses of power by the newly formed government. (8b) As a result, twelve amendments were proposed, the last ten becoming known as the “Bill of Rights,” and the second proposed amendment being ratified into the Twenty-seventh Amendment. (8c) Article the First, mentioned in the House of Representatives section above, is the last of the bills reflecting the initial fears of, and providing a safeguard against, the excessive accumulation of power by the federal government.
As mentioned, the Founding Fathers were vehemently opposed to a democracy, and established a republican form of government. The word democracy appears nowhere in the Constitution, but republic does. A Republic is the form of government guaranteed to the states by the Constitution. (30b) As illustrated in the passage below (emphasis added in bold), a democracy was feared by the Founding Fathers:
“The Founding Fathers wanted a republicanism that would guarantee liberty, with opposing, limited powers offsetting one another. They thought change should occur slowly, as many were afraid that a "democracy"- by which they meant a direct democracy- would allow a majority of voters at any time to trample rights and liberties in the "heat of a moment". They believed the most formidable of these potential majorities was that of the poor against the rich. They thought democracy could take the form of mob rule that could be shaped on the spot by a demagogue. “ (36a)
One concern about representative government was that factions could develop with the potential for hijacking the government. James Madison explained in Federalist No. 10 that as the country increases in size, it becomes more difficult for these factions to materialize into a formidable threat to the Republic. (37a) This in large part assumes an optimal size for the size of Congressional Districts, as mentioned above in the House of Representatives section. Factions unfortunately developed as a result of progressivism, with the structural changes to the Constitution mentioned in the above sections, thus nullifying Madison’s logic. "Heat of a moment" decisions have caused the treatment of a non-member state of this union, in Washington DC, to have the privileges of statehood, without formally subjecting itself to the required duties of such. Factions have also led to one President in history, possibly the most socialist President ever, to perpetuate the office longer than the traditional two terms of four years each, and literally make a prophet out of Thomas Jefferson. (38) Below are Thomas Jefferson’s thoughts on perpetual presidency:
"if some termination to the services of the chief Magistrate be not fixed by the Constitution, or supplied by practice, his office, nominally four years, will in fact become for life." (39a)
To our government’s credit, the Twenty-second Amendment was passed to prevent such a thing from ever happening again. But with the progressive thinking that exists in this society, this is always subject to unraveling.
In the way of governments, in very simplistic terms, you can have a government based on absolute rule by a monarch. This form of government yields no involvement by the people. The other extreme is direct democracy, where you have 100% involvement by the people at all times. Neither of these forms of government are optimal, and representative government attempts to strike a balance between the two via the side of democracy. The question then becomes how many people should be represented per representative. Too little representation resembles direct democracy, and too few resemble aristocracy. This number is debatable, but it is clear that representative government is the desired end.
To illustrate the brilliant design of the government created, a system of checks and balances was established between the three branches of government. Most are familiar with the Separation of Powers of the three branches of government, but a second set of checks and balances were also established via the representational government scheme. The legislative branch consists of two houses which work against each other. The upper house consist of representatives of the state legislatures (not anymore though as explained in the United States Senate section), while the lower house consist of representatives of the people at large. The law making process is done cooperatively in both houses, neither by the people or the state legislatures but by their elected or appointed representatives.
The executive branch consists of a head of state, or President and is appointed by the state legislatures (not in practice however, as explained in the Electoral College section above) via Electors appointed by them. The people of the states are not directly involved in this process, it being less significant than the legislative process. The people of the states influence this process indirectly however via local politics. State legislatures are accountable to the people for the Electors chosen, and the manner in which they vote.
Finally the judicial branch consists of judges nominated by the executor. Neither the state legislatures, nor the people are directly involved in this process. However, the people become directly involved via the jury box, as they have the final say on all crimes. The state legislatures somewhat indirectly influence this process however, via the manner in which the case law develops. Because states are sovereign and have all the power that the Constitution does not delegate to the federal government, decisions that are contrary to their desires can influence legislation to be passed on the state level. All in all, you have a brilliant scheme resembling the paradox of the game rock, scissors, and paper, resulting in non-expedient, but qualitative advancement of the government that reflects the wishes of all its participants. People do not get everything they want, they get everything they need. This is a far cry from Progressivism, which tends to do the opposite.
Quite simply, the People are sovereign, with the states being next in line. The federal government is the created, and is at the bottom of this hierarchy. Interaction with the federal government on an individual level is done via his agents, or representatives. The individual was never meant to answer directly to the federal government. This extends to the election of government officials, with the exception of the House of Representatives, as this is deemed the People’s house. As for the Congress, the individual acts through his state (which in turn acts through its agents) when electing Senators, directly (only) with the House of Representatives. The link with the Executive branch is also done by the individual through his state, which in turn interfaces with the government through its agents, the appointed Electors of the Electoral College in electing the President. An alternative to this could be the people directly selecting the electors who in turn elect the President. The important point here is that the President is not being elected directly by the People, but by the Electors. The Elector in this scheme would serve in a similar fashion as Congressional Representatives, except their function would be electing the President as opposed to making laws on behalf of their constituents.
Lastly you have the federal courts, or the judicial branch. This is a little different, but as mentioned, the individual is sovereign and is not answerable to the federal government. (40) Furthermore, interaction with the judge, or other court officers being inferior to the sovereign individual, is done via an agent of the individual. (41) Again, no direct interaction is to be had with the federal government, unless of course the individual chooses to do so. Sadly we have chosen to interact, or have allowed the federal government to interact with us directly, thus making ourselves vulnerable to "heat of a moment." decisions. To use an analogy, consider receiving a supreme bargain on a new car you want, but the offer is only valid in the here and now. Here the temptation is very strong to make an impulsive decision without doing the necessary homework to make an informed decision. Your reasoning faculties become biased because you are emotionally invested, given that you really like the car. Direct involvement introduces personal biases toward an individual agenda, which makes vulnerable the rights of others at the expense of these biases. Just as an individual who represents himself in court subjects himself to emotional bias, he also does more to direct his action toward the election process on all levels of government. As mentioned earlier, the amount of interaction is up for debate, but a brilliant system of checks and balances, and a well structured layer of involvement between the individual and the government have been altered for the worse.
I’ll close this section with the words of the Founding Fathers themselves (emphasis in bold text). (42)
“Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
John Adams, letter to John Taylor, April 15, 1814
“That, as a republic is the best of governments, so that particular arrangements of the powers of society, or, in other words, that form of government which is best contrived to secure an impartial and exact execution of the laws, is the best of republics.”
John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776
“I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I traveled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”
Benjamin Franklin, On the Price of Corn and Management of the Poor, November 1766
“All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.”
Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801
“Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread.”
Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, 1821
“A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking.”
James Madison, letter to William Hunter, March 11, 1790
“There is no maxim in my opinion which is more liable to be misapplied, and which therefore needs elucidation than the current one that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong.... In fact it is only reestablishing under another name and a more specious form, force as the measure of right....”
James Madison, letter to James Monroe, October 5, 1786
First and foremost, to restore the liberties the Founding Fathers envisioned when establishing this government, we have to stop thinking like socialists. (43) Quite literally the last two generations of Americans have been fully groomed into a system of progressivism from birth via the social culture, and the lack of education about the history and principles which form the basis for this government. We have evolved into a passive state, believing that entities outside ourselves are better equipped at deciding our fate than we are. We have fully delegated our thinking faculties and, if anything is to change, this has to be first.
Next the 17th Amendment needs to be repealed. This is a radical structural change of our original Constitution and it serves to allow for cunning and conniving individuals to play off the emotions of current public sentiment to seize control of the office of U.S. Senator. This in contrast to the more traditional, level headed method of allowing the state legislatures to decide who occupies this office on its behalf. The states are more versed in the law than the population at large, and so are less swayed by feel-good rhetoric and, as a result, capable of making better choices for this office which serve its interests. The people benefit indirectly when the state’s interest is served. This of course depends on the moral character of state legislature being just and it is up to the people to keep a close watch on them. After all, it is much easier to monitor what is being done at the local level than at the federal, and the sphere of influence of the individual is much greater than on a federal level. In regards to the 17th Amendment being repealed, we need to make this topic an agenda for any of our elected officials. As the President of the U.S. has the biggest platform in the country, candidates who market themselves as grassroots conservatives who support fundamental Constitutional principles, such as Congressman Ron Paul should be encouraged to publicly support such legislation which endorses its repeal. (44)
Next, the proposed “first” amendment included in the bill of rights package needs to be ratified. As it currently stands, the United States House of Representatives is fixed at 435 members, which results in a Congressional District size of roughly one representative for every seven hundred thousand citizens. This is a far cry from what the Founding Fathers intended. They intended Congressional District sizes to become no larger than one representative for every 60,000 citizens. This number would warrant the number of representatives in the House to increase to about 4,500. If the more radical number of one representative for every 30,000 citizens is considered, the number which appears in the Constitution, the increase would be double what it stands at now, Representatives have too large a constituency base and are out of touch with the needs of their entire district. Simple majority rule in electing representatives assures that the needs of all citizens are compromised for the majority. It also gives individuals less influence over their representative as larger districts water down their individual votes. But a larger size in the House, however, will curtail against collusion and susceptibility of the House as a whole to special interest groups. A larger number of representatives is also more reflective of the population, and it will serve as a bureaucracy to the volumes of legislation that is passed on a daily basis in Congress. I understand that such an increase in the number of representatives cannot happen overnight, but a reasonable plan to get to that number within the next one or two decades needs to be a priority on every politicians list. As both Houses of Congress have an incentive to not let the size of Representatives in the House increase, Presidential candidates should be prime targets for soliciting that such legislation be passed.
The Electoral College needs to be restored to its pre-twentieth century form as well. The “Every Vote Counts Amendment” needs to be opposed. This is an amendment where Congress is the more effective target, as the President benefits from this amendment. As a result, our local Senators and Representative should hear our concern that we do not support this amendment. And we will be monitoring how they vote on this bill. The same needs to be done at a local level with the “National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.” At the local level, all officials can be targeted since none benefit from this legislation directly. We need to inform our state legislatures that we do not want our sovereignty sold down the river based on the public sentiment in other states.
In restoring the Electoral College, we need to 1) either allow state legislatures to fully take control of this function, 2) have the people administer this function and have the electorates fully accountable to the people via the ballot box, since they are in fact public servants, or 3) adhere to the Maine and Nevada method of splitting the electoral votes for President based on how the districts vote within its state boundaries.
The last is the method allocated by activist organization Thirty-Thousand.org. (45) As they point out, the number of electoral votes of a state can be as many as the representatives it has in Congress. Thus, as the number of representatives increases to thousands, the number of electoral votes will increase one for one as well. This dissection of votes throughout the whole of the country will essentially reduce any possibility for Presidential candidates to appeal to a large sector of the population based on demographic information, as has been done by past presidents, and by our current President.
Lastly, all voting rights need to be stripped from Washington DC and it is to be treated as any other territory of the United States. The 23rd Amendment is another that needs to be repealed, and also the recently proposed “District of Columbia Voting Rights Act of 2007.” Again the call needs to be made to Congressmen voicing our dissent over this gross deviation from the principles upon which this government was founded. Because DC is the seat of government, a conflict of interest exists, and will always exist over it’s becoming an official state. Citizens who reside in DC are actually citizens of the federal zone United States, and not belonging to any particular state. They need to be aware of this; that relocating to the District of Columbia is essentially a relinquishment of their rights under the Constitution.
With vigilance, resolve, and the necessary action which ensues, we can all enjoy the experience of living in a country full of the spirit of liberty. I believe we have all envisioned it, but until we do so “a posteriori” we only delude ourselves.
The National Constitution Center
(1) “A Republic if You Can Keep It” by By Richard R. Beeman, Ph.D.
(2) “Progressivism in the United States”
(2a) “Early Progressivism”
(3) “Article One of the United States Constitution”
(3a) “Section 3 Clause 1- Composition; Election of Senators”
(3b) “Section 2 Clause 3 - Apportionment of Representatives and Taxes”
(3c) “Section 10 – Limits on the states”
(4) “Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution”
(5) “Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution”
(6) “List of amendments to the United States Constitution”
(6a) “Ratified amendments”
(7) “Public Law 62-5”
(8) “United States Bill of Rights”
(8a) “Text of the Bill of Rights – Preamble”
(8b) “Ratification and the Massachusetts Compromise”
(8c) “Proposed amendments not passed with Bill of Rights”
(9) “Article the First”
(9a) “Text of the amendment”
(10) “US Constitution method”
(10a) “Philadelphia Convention”
(12) “Reapportionment Act of 1929”
(14) “Article Two of the United States Constitution”
(14a) “Section 1 Clause 3 - Method of choosing electors”
(15) “United States Electoral College”
(15a) “Arguments for and against the current system”
(15b) “Losing the popular vote”
(15c) “Enhances status of minority groups”
(16) “Help America Vote Act”
(16a) “Research and Development”
(17) “National Popular Vote Interstate Compact”
(19) “United States presidential election, 2000 (detail)”
(20) “Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996”
(23) “United States Census, 2000”
(23a) “Changes in population – Figure 2”
(24) “United States presidential election, 2004”
(24a) “Electoral College changes from 2000”
(30) “Article Four of the United States Constitution”
(30a) “Section 3 Clause 2 - Federal property and the Territorial Clause”
(30b) “Section 4 Clause 1 - Republican government”
(31) “Territories of the United States”
(31a) “Unincorporated organized territories”
(32) “Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution”
(33) “District of Columbia vote in the United States House of Representatives”
(33a) “District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2007”
(35) “Articles of Confederation”
(35a) “Article summaries”
(36) “Republicanism in the United States”
(36a) “New Nation: The Constitution”
(37) “Federalist No. 10”
(37a) “Publius' argument”
(38) “Franklin D. Roosevelt”
(39) “Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution”
(40) “Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution”
(41) “Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution”
(47) “New Deal”
(11) “A Brief History of Apportionment”
(11a) “Apportionment Milestones”
(45) “The Electoral College”
The Boston Globe
(18) “A growing Hispanic vote still favors GOP” by Dario Moreno
The U.S. Census Bureau
(21) “The Hispanic Population – Census 2000 Brief”
(22) “Hispanics Now Largest U.S. Minority - Census: Now 37 Million Latinos In U.S., Versus 36 Million Blacks”
(25) “Illegal immigration into US up sharply since 2000: DHS report by Jaime Jansen
(26) “Bush seeks legal status for illegal immigrants - Plan could help GOP with Latinos” article contributors: NBC’s David Gregory and Tracie Potts, The Associated Press and Reuters
The American Conservative
(27) “Real Message of The Bush Amnesty” by Pat Buchanan
(28) “Bush nephew campaigns in Mexico”
The U.S. Department of State
(29) “The Northwest Ordinance (1787)”
(46) “Federal Grants to State and Local Governments: A Brief History”
The U.S. Constitution Online
(34) “The Articles of Confederation”
(42) “Founding Fathers Quotes”
(43) “Socialism in America” by John Bowman
(44) “Repeal the Seventeenth Amendment” by Thomas J. DiLorenzo