Looking at the current state of affairs in this nation from a non-partisan perspective, it seems obvious that we are at the doorstep of socialism and our so-called representatives are pounding on the door wanting to get in. We’re not saying this because we’re some crazy right-wing conspiracy nut fringe. Other nations see it too: newspaper articles from England to Russia have commented on our rapid slide toward socialism.
Many Americans refuse to admit it, though. “It can’t happen here!” they say. Or: “You’re just overreacting.” Regardless of these excuses, the fact remains that we are sliding rapidly toward socialism. And it was inevitable that this would happen.
When speaking of the fall of the Athenian empire, British Professor Alexander Faser Tytler (1747-1813) said, “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.”
Later, in his book Democracy in America published in 1835, French scholar Alexis de Toqueville wrote, “A democratic government is the only one in which those who vote for a tax can escape the obligation to pay it.”
And then on February 3, 1913, these and other warnings were ignored as the 16th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, thus giving Congress the “power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived.” Two months later on April 8, 1913, the 17th Amendment was ratified, bringing the direct election of Senators. And so our national stumble began.
But this stumble of sorts started before the 16th and 17th Amendments. It started long before the United States. It started with the birth of Man, and the very nature of each of us. The more someone seeks political power, the more they should be prevented from attaining it, because it is in their very nature to do what is necessary to retain that power. Their acts as politicians, therefore, are nothing more than acts to ensure their continued power, and always to the detriment of the people they are supposed to be serving.
The Founders of this great nation knew this. They were well aware the nature of man. They had all studied and learned the lessons of previous governments, from the democracy of Athens to the Roman Republic to the British monarchy. They understood the failings of each, and they set about to create a new form of government — a democratic republic — that was designed to use the powers of one form of government as a check against the other forms. They believed that a government that governs least governs best, and the best way to ensure that is to create a government framework that establishes a sort of legislative gridlock. So the Senate (a republic), the House of Representatives (a democracy), and the Presidency (a monarchy) were designed to work against each other and in effect prevent the passage of too much legislation which would be detrimental to the liberties of We the People. The 16th and 17th Amendments changed all that.
With the 17th Amendment, the Senate became another democracy, like the House. And the 16th Amendment gave them the power to fund their political tenure and agendas. And the facts have born this out. When the amendments passed in 1913, the average years of service for the Senate and House in the 63rd Congress were 5.1 and 4.2, respectively. The 110th Congress, which served from 2007 to 2009, these numbers had risen to 12.82 and 10.0, or more than double. By contrast, the 13th Congress which served 100 years before the passage of the 16th and 17th Amendments, these numbers were 4.2 and 2.8. While we acknowledge the doubling of average years of tenure for Representatives every 100 years, it wasn’t until the passage of the 17th Amendment that the tenure of the Senators began to increase at the same rate as their opponents in Congress. In effect, the two had become one.
Now, rather than gridlock in Washington as the founders had intended, any time in the past century when one political party controlled both the Congress and the Presidency, it was a green light for unbridled spending. And spend both parties have done, every time they got the opportunity. Rather than do what is right for We the People, they have done what is best for them to retain their power, or to gain more.
Now it has come to this. And there was no other way, no other possible outcome than for it to come to this, because even though we are Americans, we are still human. We are fallible. And even though the founders designed the Constitution as a set of shackles around the federal government, the politicians figured out that the language of the 16th and 17th Amendments were the key to those shackles, and now they are attempting to turn those shackles back upon us, to shackle us to the government. The promises of “free” goodies like retirement, healthcare, and “stimulus” checks are nothing more than bribes. As P.J. O’Rourke so eloquently stated, “That’s not freedom, that’s dependency. Those aren’t rights, those are the rations of slavery — hay and a barn for human cattle.”
We need to realize that yes, our current situation is indeed a rapid decent toward socialism. We have to admit that yes, We the People have made 100 years of mistakes by letting our so-called representatives take advantage of us. We must admit our failings to the righteous cause of liberty, stop this decent now before it is too late, and work tirelessly to mend our nation. It can happen, and it must happen, because if the light of liberty is extinguished from this land, we will spend the next two centuries in darkness before we can repair the damage done in the last one. Yes, America has stumbled. But we can choose to get back up upon our feet.
As de Toqueville warned us about the evils of taxes, he also gave us this ray of hope: “The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.”