The summer of 1787 revisited
As our founding fathers grappled with the prodigious task of forming the Constitution for the United States, the climate was hot – temperature-wise (William Paterson from nearby New Jersey described Philadelphia that summer as “the warmest place I’ve ever been“) and politically. The parallels between that summer in 1787 and this summer of 2016 are legion. A record heat is scorching the U.S. this summer, much like in 1787, but now, as then, a much hotter political battle is underway.
The hottest topic the founders wrestled with was central (federal) versus regional (state) power. It is this same issue, which last week drove the Brits to vote for Brexit, that also fuels Donald Trump’s battle against Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. Thankfully, Great Britain chose correctly by ending the abrogation of its sovereignty to the faceless EU bureaucrats in Brussels.
Our battle is ongoing, as Trump and conservatives plead our case to the American people. The case is simple: our bloated federal government in D.C. is usurping states’ rights to an unacceptable degree. It is no accident that British slogans such as “Make Britain Great Again” mimic Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again.” This starts by the states recapturing greater control over their destiny. Be it immigration, abortion rights, gun laws, etc., the states must reclaim their dominion.
I and many others believe that the primary driver for Britain’s separation from the EU was immigration and a fear that the British culture itself is endangered by the failed and misguided march toward multiculturalism. Immigration is also the primary driver that motivates Trump supporters.
Ironically, this issue of local versus central control was also the primary impetus for the American Revolution itself eleven years prior to the ratification of the Constitution – Great Britain being the central power versus the regional colonies. Even more ironically, Britons find the shoe on the other foot presently, having crafted their own “Declaration of Independence” by voting to separate from the EU for basically the same reasons the Founding Fathers espoused 240 years ago.
What lessons can we draw from all of this? Absolute power corrupts absolutely, so the corollary of centralized power is ever increasing central governance over regional rights. For Britain, it is the EU, and for America, it is Washington, D.C.
Much of the long and hot summer in 1787 was dedicated to crafting a Constitution that combated this very tendency. If centralized power is unchecked, eventually, resentment will grow until the people decide they have finally had enough. It was so in 1776 and 1787, and it is so in 2016 as Great Britain herself separates from the EU.
Let’s hope we follow Great Britain’s lead, and our own before that, when we display by our votes on November 8 that we too have “had enough.”