“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” ~ Isaac Asimov
I wish people could hear how ridiculous they sound sometimes. Take gun control for instance; the proponents of stricter gun control laws are always saying that they want tougher background checks upon those seeking to purchase a firearm, and that there should be bans upon those scary ‘assault’ rifles; although technically a baseball bat could be considered an ‘assault’ stick if used to inflict harm upon another. Just watch the Quentin Tarantino movie Inglorious Basterds if you want to see an example of an assault stick in action.
Let me ask you something, (although I already suspect what kind of answers I’ll get); which do you think is more dangerous; an AR-15 in the hands of one psychopath or a single vote in the hands of millions of uneducated voters? A standard .223 round fired from an AR-15 can travel up to 3 miles; although its effective range is about 600 meters; less than half a mile. Yet the votes of uneducated voters have consequences that are felt by every single person living in America.
So tell me again which is more dangerous; an AR-15 or millions of uneducated voters? Furthermore, if the proponents of stricter gun control laws want more thorough background checks upon those seeking to buy guns, why don’t we apply the same principle to those seeking to cast a vote? Why don’t we administer a test to see if those seeking to vote are familiar with the system of government they want to elect people to?
How would YOU feel if, when you registered to vote, or showed up at the polls, you were asked to take a simple test which showed that you were familiar with the history and the operating principles of your system of government? Could you pass such a test? Why don’t we find out right now by seeing how many of you could successfully pass this simple test?
1) Name 5 of the delegates to the convention that wrote the Constitution.
2) How many articles are there in the Constitution?
3) What are the eligibility requirements to become president of the United States?
4) Name 5 of the enumerated powers delegated to Congress?
5) How many times has the Constitution been amended?
I intentionally made that test simple; yet I’d be surprised if 25% of the registered voters could pass it – and that’s being extremely generous with my numbers. If you couldn’t answer all of them, without having to research your answers, what makes you think you should be allowed to vote? I know it’s not quite the same, but thinking that you should be permitted to vote when you don’t know the first thing about the document that established our government is like letting someone become your doctor who doesn’t know the first thing about human anatomy.
I find it ludicrous to watch as Republicans and Democrats hurl insults at each other; saying that the ‘other’ side is doing things that are unconstitutional when neither side can tell you what the Constitution actually says. I wonder, how many voters have read the Constitution since they graduated from high school; and that’s assuming they read it then. Of those that have read it, how many have picked it apart to try to decipher what the various clauses actually say? I’m betting the number is in the lower single digits. How in the world can anyone say that what the ‘other’ side is doing is unconstitutional when they don’t know what the Constitution actually says?
Currently we are in the midst of a presidential election cycle; one of the most bizarre in my lifetime. I say it is bizarre for numerous reasons. First we are in the midst of a supposed, (and I mean that in all senses of the word), pandemic. Secondly, the animosity and vitriol dividing the left and the right is at a fever pitch. And finally, both sides have stated that if they lose they will contest the outcome.
Yet pushing all that aside, one of the key issues in this election is the question of whether a replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsberg on the Supreme Court should be nominated by the incumbent president, or if it should be postponed until after the election. If the Constitution says what it says, and means what it says, why in God’s name should it matter whether a Republican or a Democrat chooses the replacement for Justice Ginsberg?
What this shows me is that people are admitting that those chosen to sit upon the Supreme Court as just as susceptible to partisan bickering, and differing opinions as to what the Constitution says/means. If they weren’t there is no way one court could overturn the decisions handed down by previous Justices; yet they have – over 200 times! If they are just as susceptible to the left/right paradigm as the voting public, then what Jefferson said about the court is 100% true, “The Constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please.” (Source: Letter to Judge Spencer Roane, Sept. 6, 1819)
What does it say about the voting public that it looks to 9 clowns in gowns to explain what the Constitution says/means to them? Is the voting public truly that unwilling to think for themselves; or has the educational system in this country failed so miserably that they are incapable of any kind of critical thought? Has it ever crossed your minds that the Supreme Court is part of the government, and allowing them to decide for you what the Constitution says/means is like handing the keys to the henhouse to the fox?
As much as I’ve grown to despise James Madison, he did get this right, “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power that knowledge gives.”
As the Constitution was written and ratified over 200 years ago, who do you think has/had a better understanding of what it says/means; politicians today seeking your vote, or those who actively participated in drafting and ratifying it? I mean, if you write a book, don’t you think that you know better what you were trying to say than someone who might read that book 200 years in the future? Why should it be any different when it comes to the document that established this system of government? My father used to tell me, “If you want the truth you need to go to the horse’s mouth.”
That’s why I included in my questions the question asking you to name 5 of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention. If you don’t know the intentions of the men who wrote the Constitution, then you cannot see what some of their beliefs were, and how they possibly worded the Constitution in such a way as to leave it open to ‘interpretation’ later on.
Take for instance Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17; the Necessary and Proper Clause. The problem with that clause comes when trying to decide what is, and what isn’t meant by the word ‘necessary.’ Your survival depends upon you having air to breathe, food to eat, and water to drink; those things are necessary. Fancy clothes, a big TV, and a cell phone may make life more comfortable, but they are not necessary for your survival.
Almost immediately after this system of government went into effect a debate ensued over that very question; what is meant by the word necessary? Thomas Jefferson took the position that I do; that necessary means absolutely essential. In his argument against the bank, proposed by Alexander Hamilton, Jefferson wrote, “I consider the foundation of the Constitution that “all powers not delegated to the United States, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, or to the people” (10th Amendment). To take a single step beyond the boundaries that are specifically drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition.”
Hamilton, on the other hand, argued, “(A) restrictive interpretation of the word “necessary” is also contrary to this sound maxim of construction: namely, that the powers contained in a constitution ought to be construed liberally in advancement of the public good.” Hamilton felt the same way regarding the meaning of the General Welfare Clause, stating, “[T]he power to raise money is plenary and indefinite [in the Constitution] … The terms general Welfare were doubtless intended to signify more than was expressed.”
Yet people seem to forget, (or perhaps they were never taught), that the Constitution did not immediately go into effect once it was written; there was a long and heated debate as to whether or not to adopt this new system of government. The debate was intense enough to lead 3 of the Constitution’s supporters to band together and write a series of essays to calm the public fears being raised by the documents opponents. These essays came to be known as the Federalist Papers.
Scholars today say that the Federalist Papers are the most concise description of what the Constitution says/means; but in truth they were just an ad campaign designed by 3 of its supporters in an effort to get people to vote in favor of their proposed plan for a new system of government. Yet, if the Federalist Papers are what the scholars say they are, a concise explanation of the Constitution, then how can you explain what Madison said in Federalist 45 in comparison to what Hamilton said while seeking to justify ‘implied’ powers? If you aren’t familiar with what Madison said in Federalist 45; “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined.”
What Madison said in Federalist 45 is what he, as one of the authors of the Constitution, was telling the people what the Constitution said/meant. What Hamilton said about the word necessary, is what the government did once it went into effect; basically proving that either they didn’t care what the Constitution said, or that they were liars when the promised that the powers of this new government would be ‘few and defined.’ That’s why people need to compare what their elected officials say against what they do; for they often contradict each other.
I’m not saying that I think the Constitution is the greatest document the world has ever seen; in fact I think it is pretty piss poor if you want the truth. Yet it is what we are stuck with for now, and if it is to mean something then you must understand what the bloody thing says/means; and not rely upon the news media, corrupt politicians, and 9 clowns in gowns to explain it to you. That means you’re going to have to turn off your TV’s, get off Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, and do some damned research.
If it didn’t anger me so much it would be all I could do not to laugh at people who think that my views/opinions on our system of government, (and the document that produced it), are radical. I would venture to guess that a majority of those who say that have not read the Constitution in its entirety. If people are too lazy, or apathetic, to read the document that established their system of government you can rest assured they have probably not read the Notes taken during the convention the produced that document; even though those notes were revised continually by James Madison up until his death in 1836.
If people haven’t read those, I am pretty sure they’ve never bothered to read the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers; nor have they read any of the notes taken during the State Ratifying Assemblies; where you will find the real meaning of the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson declared as much when he wrote, “On every question of construction (of the Constitution) let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit of the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.”
How can people possibly do that if you’ve never read the Constitution; nor have they read the debates of the various State Ratifying Assemblies? That is why I inserted that Asimov quote at the very beginning of this, for most people do believe that their ignorance is just as good as my knowledge. I’m not saying I know all there is to know, I don’t; I have a friend, (Mike Gaddy), who makes me look like I’m still learning my A, B, C’s when it comes to how much he knows. That said, compared to what most of the voting public knows about the Constitution, I’m a frickn’ Einstein!
Not only have I read, an re-read the Constitution dozens, if not hundreds of times, I’ve also read Madison’s notes from the convention that produced it; I’ve read both the Federalist and Anti-Federalist essays; and I’m currently reading the debates from the State Ratifying Assemblies.
On top of all that, I’ve read the following books on the subject:
Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States-Joseph Story
Madison’s Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention-Mary Sarah Bilder
The Federalist: The Complete Federalist Papers-A Barnes & Noble Classic
Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution-Pauline Maier
The Anti-Federalist Papers-Ralph Ketchum, A Signet Classic
The Essential Debate on the Constitution-Robert J. Allison and Bernard Bailyn
A Brief Enquiry into the True Nature of our Federal Government-Abel Upshur
Like I said, I don’t know everything; in fact I’ve barely scratched the surface of all that there is to learn. But like Madison said, ‘knowledge will forever govern ignorance’, and I have no intention of being counted among the ignorant. Unfortunately for America, Willem Hendrik von Loon was right, “Any formal attack on ignorance is bound to fail because the masses are always ready to defend their most precious possession – their ignorance.”
The truth is out there folks, but you’re not gonna find it on TV, or coming from the mouths of traitors and criminals seeking your votes. If you want it, you’re gonna have to go looking for it; just as I did. They say ignorance is bliss. I disagree, ignorance is just ignorance; it means you don’t know Jack Schidt about what you’re talking about; and there’s only one way to remedy that; go out and find the truth. Unfortunately, as Winston Churchill once said, “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.”
The truth is, no matter who you put into office, government is still gonna suck unless it reduces itself in size, or is forcibly reduced, to only those powers specifically found in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. The truth is the Constitution sucks because there is no means of punishing those we elect when they overstep their delegated authority; placing us in what Patrick Henry described as, “…our distracted folly in resting our rights upon the contingency of our rulers being good or bad. Shew me that age and country where the rights and liberties of the people were placed on the sole chance of their rulers being good men, without a consequent loss of liberty? I say that the loss of that dearest privilege has ever followed with absolute certainty, every such mad attempt.”
Ignorance is a cocoon that shields you from the truth; and the truth frightens most people because it places upon their shoulders the obligation to act upon the knowledge they learn. That is why so many people avoid the truth like the plague, and criticize those who speak it. They may fear the truth, but deep down I think it is something else; I think they fear the courage those who have embraced the truth exhibit; for they lack that courage themselves, and people like us make them look like the cowards they know they are.
Well I’ve got some bad news for you Sparky, (thanks Bart for that term), America didn’t gain its independence because cowards rejected the truth that was right before their eyes. In fact, Patrick Henry said, “Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.”
Those are the kind of men who established this country; not cowards who shun the truth. The question is; which of the two descriptions fits you? Your country and your liberty await your answer.
October 9, 2020
~ The Author ~
Neal Ross, Student of history, politics, patriot and staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment. Send all comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you liked Neal’s latest column, maybe you’ll like his latest booklet: The Civil War: (The Truth You Have Not Been Told). Life continues to expand for this prolific writer and guardian of TRUE American history.