When the federal government oversteps its constitutional limitations, what do you do about it? Do you vote the bums out, sue them in court, or complain on social media? In this video, you’ll learn what the “Father of the Constitution” had to say, and the answer just might surprise you.
When my iPod doesn’t appear to be working right I don’t go to Radio Shack, or Target, or even a Tech Blogger to get it fixed. I go to the people who made it, and a few months ago, Apple did a great job at this.
The same goes for the Constitution.
If you believe, like I do, that the federal government is only authorized to exercise those powers delegated to it in the Constitution, then you know – like I do – that a vast majority of what the feds do is in fact a constitutional violation.
When Republicans support a so-called conservative who wildly expands federal control over healthcare and education – and when Democrats elect a so-called peace-president who unilaterally wages war and expands the surveillance state, the enduring question is – how do you actually stop these people?
The #1 thing I’ve heard from people – for years – is that you need to “vote the bums out.” Coming in 2nd place is a lawsuit to stop the feds from doing what they’re doing.
James Madison, who is generally regarded as the “father of the United States Constitution,” had much different advice.
Writing in Federalist paper #46, Madison said that “ambitious encroachments” of the federal government would be met with widespread “plans of resistance.”
A popular dictionary of the time defined resistance as “the quality of not yielding to force or external impression.”
And in that same Federalist #46, Madison gave us a blueprint for the resistance he recommended. He told us of four things that should be done to stop federal acts, whether merely unpopular, or unconstitutional.
- Protest – Madison called it “Disquietude of the people,” and even used the word “repugnance” to describe the displeasure you should be showing. That leads to the next step
- Noncompliance – Madison recommended a “Refusal to co-operate with the officers of the Union.” He apparently knew what we know today. The feds rely on cooperation from state and local governments, as well as individuals. When enough people refuse to comply, they simply can’t enforce their so-called laws.
- Governors – Madison referred to this as “The frowns of the executive magistracy of the State.” When the feds overreach, governors should formally protest them, which encourages people to take the other steps, and leads to the next – state legislative action.
- Madison said these “Legislative devices … would often be added on such occasions.” In Federalist #46, Madison keeps just what these devices are open-ended, and we’ll go over them in detail in a future episode.
When I need to restart my iPod and get it back on track, I check my user guide from Apple, and they tell me just how to do it.
The same goes for the Constitution. In Federalist #46, James Madison wrote a user guide for the Constitution, and said that if several states were to take these actions simultaneously, it would “present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter.”
Madison didn’t expect the People to, as he put it, “elect an uninterrupted succession of men ready to betray” them. He expected them to follow his advice – and make plans of resistance to stop federal overreach.
Next time, we’ll discuss the difference between claiming one’s rights – and waiting for them. And in a future episode, I’ll tell you more about Madison’s plans for resistance on a state level.