“I place economy among the first and most important of republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers to be feared. We must make our choice between frugality and liberty, or excessive spending and servitude. If the debt should be swelled to a formidable size, its entire discharge will be despaired of and we shall be committed to a career of debt corruption, and rottenness. The discharge of the debt, therefore, is vital to the destiny of our government.”
Thomas Jefferson said that. If our Founding Fathers were alive today, then this crisis would not have occurred. With this crisis occurring today, and if our Founding Fathers were alive, we might be looking at our 2nd American Revolutionary War. But, both those examples are meaningless hypotheses. What we can do is look at what our Founding Fathers said and did to get an idea of what they would think about all that currently is taking place.
It took two years to draft our Constitution before it was able to be ratified. The largest stumbling block rested on state representation in the federal government and led to the “Great Compromise”. That might be the lesson of the day. To reach a compromise. As Ben Franklin said near the ratification of the Constitution,
“There are several parts of this Constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them. [He would accept the Constitution] because I expect no better and because I am not sure that it is not the best.”
As long as Barack Obama is the President, and the Democrats control the Senate, the Tea Party will not be able to completely hold the line and get everything they want. A compromise may need to be reached. It will be the best compromise we could hope for, I think, but only because the Tea Party held the line so long. There does have to be some major concessions on the Democrats’ side, though, for a compromise to occur. I am not suggesting the Republicans cave, I would rather default. The compromise must lay a true foundation for a real plan that addresses our out-of-control spending and our debt.
Even our original Constitution, one of the greatest documents ever written, was an imperfect one since it shelved slavery for a fight for another time. If our Founding Fathers could shelve some of our most sacred ideals for a fight for another time, then some shelving of our ideals today may be in order too. In 1773, Patrick Henry said,
“I believe a time will come when an opportunity will be offered to abolish this lamentable evil. Everything we do is to improve it, if it happens in our day; if not, let us transmit to our descendants, together with our slaves, a pity for their unhappy lot and an abhorrence of slavery.”
If slavery had been dealt with in the manner that it deserved at the time, then the nation would not have been born. The Constitution would not have been ratified. It took a great sacrifice of some ideals in the short term with a compromise being reached that the importation of slaves could end 20 years after ratification, and it was ended 20 years later to the day. Some issues, no matter how important, may need to be put on the slow track just in order to keep it on track.
Our government has grown so large today and so many people are dependent on it for their survival that they have entered into a new kind of slavery. Thomas Paine stated well,
“The preservation of a free Government requires not merely, that the metes and bounds which separate each department of power be invariably maintained; but more especially that neither of them be suffered to overleap the great Barrier which defends the rights of the people. The Rulers who are guilty of such an encroachment, exceed the commission from which they derive their authority, and are Tyrants. The People who submit to it are governed by laws made neither by themselves nor by an authority derived from them, and are slaves.”
It may have taken the world thousands of years to recognize slavery was something that should not exist, and it may have taken 100 years to finally end it here, but our country does not have another 100 years to end this new kind of servitude. Which puts us right back where we started. On what should the Tea Party be willing to compromise on? How far should they go? An overwhelming majority of the American people favor much of what is in the Cut Cap & Balance bill. But, 40% of the country are somewhat dependent on the systems that have grown with the expansion of our government. So how to proceed? As Thomas Jefferson once said,
“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.”