Jan 1, 2013
I have just read through your article in the National Gazette of Feb 6, 1792 and quite agree with your analysis. Regretfully, I must inform you that, while consolidation of the state governments has not occurred, the states have lost any meaningful check on the Federal government, which has become monstrous indeed. It has grown to such a size and intrudes upon so many subjects that even the wisest and best connected know but a fraction of its doings, while the common voter is often so completely in the dark as to know only the name of the chief Executive. Your article is exactly right in declaring that the people are the guardians of their own liberty and happiness. The people are their own constitution, and the rights of all people, the prosperity of all, will only be maintained if the people actively choose it.
It is with a nearly unbearable sadness that I must report the vast majority of guardians have fallen asleep at their post, and no few are so groggy as to aid their own foes in storming their own keep. Most sleep until struck personally; then only do they strike, but having slept through the approach of the villain, our poor citizen does not know friend from foe, but rather strikes at innocent fancies of the imagination.
Flatterers destroy the civic virtue of our nation. Every man is convinced he is worth more than the truth actually warrants, which is inflamed by a faction of fools (some out of mistaken convictions, while others are of a more sinister mind) that exploit this situation by promises to raise people to their "correct" value in exchange for the power to accomplish this goal. Those who have been successful in life are castigated as criminals who have unfairly exploited the wealth of others. Of course, this is not so, and the entire income of the wealthy could not raise everyone up to his opinion of himself, but that is irrelevant. Even if all of that wealth were redistributed, those receiving such gifts would always know in his heart that the wealth is not of his creation, that he is the beneficiary of another; an intolerable position for most to live in, in particular if one despises the benefactor. It is not the theft but the lie that is important, that so many with so much disappointment in themselves may pretend they are equal to those who have done better in this lifetime. It is the politics of Envy.
Civic virtue is the soul of republican government, but is no longer the soul of the United States. Envy and apathy have filled its place. Our government is now tasked primarily to provide services for which it is not designed, and to maintain this we have plunged deeper in debt than most can understand. Our gargantuan state is not only incomprehensible to the average voter, but even to the elected officials, who conveniently use that ignorance as a shield from public reproach on the oft chance some public folly catches the public's attention. Accountability is impossible. Politics for most consists of attacking a scapegoat, providing no facts, and calling it a day.
My dear Madison, it is with great shame that I admit this, but I do believe the time has come to abandon the experiment you so nobly advanced so long ago. The problem lies not in the politicians but, as you pointed out, in the people, all three hundred million ignorant souls. They must learn if liberty is to be preserved and insolvency avoided, but they are as receptive to instruction as the denizens of Plato's Cave (or even, in most cases, as the Cave itself). I grow weary of playing the role of Laocoon, but if Troy is consumed by flames, Laocoon's fate is tied to Troy's. Our time is short in which a remedy may be applied before the disease terminates the organism.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,