Posted by: George | February 15, 2017

Lessons from the Federalist Papers, No. 8

The violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights.

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 8

Hamilton continues the concern that the states, without a strong federal government, will seek their own interests, including some advantage over neighboring states. Because a “War between the States” would be likely, Hamilton predicted the rise of standing armies and strong leaders at the expense of liberty and rights.

Hamilton is writing about the balance between security and liberty. When we feel threatened, we want a strong military. Hamilton writes, “The continual necessity for their services enhances the importance of the soldier, and preportionably degrades the condition of the citizen.” Furthermore, “It is the nature of war to increase the executive at the expense of the legislative authority.”alexander%20hamilton%20the%20musical

In contrast to a nightmare vision of states fighting states, Hamilton argues that, with a strong federal government, we could become an “insulated” nation, protected from the dangers of the Old World by an ocean.

The concern about the delicate balance between security and liberty is as old as our nation. It didn’t appear ex nihilo in the aftermath of 9/11 with the so-called Patriot Act. Hamilton predicted it.

In these uncertain times, it does not seem we have to fear the rise of the military, but many of us are concerned about a president who uses fear to rise above the checks and balances that Hamilton endorsed.

Trump called James Robart a “so-called judge” for halting the travel ban on a selection of Muslim countries, none of which sent terrorists our way. Even Trump’s own nominee to the Supreme Court found this “demoralizing.” Last Sunday, Stephen Miller, a senior Trump advisor, asserted, “The powers of the president, as we shall see, are substantial, and will not and must not be questioned.”

The concern about the delicate balance between security and liberty is as old as our nation. It didn’t appear ex nihilo in the aftermath of 9/11 with the so-called Patriot Act. Hamilton predicted it.

Consult http://www.teachingamericanhistory.org for background and texts relating to The Federalist Papers.

I also invite your to read Homo Academicus, my serial novel, which is being published at http://www.homoacademicus.us.

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