Timothy N. Baldwin, JD.
June 29, 2013
Part 3, Political Pressure
The matter addressed here is the use of political pressure (i.e. parties) to help restore liberty.
What is the source of political parties?
As much as some citizens may disdain “party politics,” parties originate from human nature. James Madison described our nature to form political parties this way,
The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere... A zeal for different opinions concerning…government…have, in turn, divided mankind into parties… So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts. Federalist Paper (FP)10.
Added to human nature, history shows that there is not a notable political event that did not involve parties accomplishing the political end, but in America this is especially true. Parties are what create political pressure for substantive change. This raises the next question.
Are political parties necessary to restore liberty in a stable, peaceful manner?
Yes. Try to imagine a political movement without a political party advancing that movement. Reason and experience reveal that political parties are the only method of getting candidates of similar principles into office. By comparison, if a “nation cannot long exist without revenues” (Alexander Hamilton, FP 12), how can liberty candidates get elected without organization and funding? Following the logic, how can a nation long exist if liberty candidates do not routinely get elected?
Madison explained this, stating that where political parties do not exist, we are on the brink or in the middle of disaster. He said in FP 50, “an extinction of parties necessarily implies either a universal alarm for the public safety, or an absolute extinction of liberty” (emphasis added). As the “vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty” (Hamilton, FP 1), so are political parties. Madison showed that political parties hold an essential function in a free society and how we cannot ignore their importance and still have a positive effect for liberty. Madison’s description of political parties’ importance raises the next point.
Madison’s test: “universal alarm for public safety” and “absolute extinction of liberty.”
Neither extreme condition exists in America. Also, neither condition should be confused with government corruption. From the founder’s point of view, government corruption does not equate to a universal alarm for public safety or an extinction of liberty. Observing Great Britain, Hamilton said in FP 8, “[t]his peculiar felicity of situation [that is, the lack of internal war] has…contributed to preserve the liberty which that country to this day enjoys, in spite of the prevalent venality and corruption.” Throughout the Federalist Papers, the Federalists described what liberty was; given their definition, America still holds a lot of liberty, in spite of corruption.
Still, there are some who claim America is “absolutely extinction of liberty”; namely, our nation is controlled entirely by elitists and globalists. Literally theorized, nothing of any significance happens without their manipulation and import. To them, the Republicans and Democrats (and those who support them) are party to this public alarm and extinction of liberty.
By implication, these theorists conclude that the American people themselves are corrupt; they invoke what Madison described about the people’s ability to correct problems in Congress through elections: “without corrupting the people themselves, a succession of new representatives would speedily restore all things to their pristine order.” (FP 63, emphasis added.) They reject the Federalist’s premise of republican liberty, that the “citizens of America have too much discernment to be argued into anarchy [or tyranny]” (Hamilton, FP 26) and that there is “sufficient virtue among men for self-government.” (Madison, FP 55.)
They surmise that the jury trial is no longer “a security against corruption,” as Hamilton said it was. (FP 83.) They conclude that there is no longer “security for [our representatives’] fidelity,” as John Jay claimed our Constitution would pull from human nature. (FP 64.) They place America into the extremities of political spectrum given Madison’s definition of liberty: “liberty…lies within extremes, which afford sufficient latitude for all the variations which may be required by the various situations and circumstances of civil society.” (FP 53.)
Seeing no hope in the people, political parties or government, they unknowingly and ironically reveal their view of the Constitution itself, which presupposed the following about human nature coupled with the Constitution:
the genius of the whole system; the nature of just and constitutional laws; and above all, the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America, a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it. If this spirit shall ever be so far debased as to tolerate a law not obligatory on the legislature, as well as on the people, the people will be prepared to tolerate any thing but liberty”
To these theorists, the people are now prepared for “anything but liberty” and deem the two parties as one and the same, stating America has only one party to destroy our liberty. Put differently, there is effectively no party; and thus Madison’s description of “absolute extinction of liberty” exists. Consequently, their answer is to abandon the only thing they can conveniently blame because they do not want to blame the Constitution or the people: the two major parties. Their approach to politics begs the following question.
Is there really an “absolute extinction of liberty” that requires citizens to abandon the Republican Party today?
Using Madison’s criteria in FP 57 of reason, consequences and facts to test a theory, I do not believe a candid observer can state America is absolutely extinct of liberty. I think most people would agree; as such, abandoning the Republican Party cannot be considered a viable answer or response for conservatives at this point.
What is more, to state that conservatives must presently abandon the Republican Party implies we need not bother with the only conservative party that has any opportunity to get candidates elected: we only need to consider “getting back to the Constitution.” These people ignore, albeit in good faith, the very real part of human nature that demands parties to advance political position. As Madison put it, these “sincere friends of liberty, who give themselves up to the extravagancies of this passion, are not aware of the injury they do their own cause.” (FP 55.)
While changing policies and progression for over two centuries have altered original, traditional or romantic notions of liberty, liberty zealots should be cautious of judging our conditions too harshly. Remember, the Federalists believed there is such a thing as too much liberty and predicted America would suffer from liberty more than too much government power. Madison said,
liberty may be endangered by the abuses of liberty as well as by the abuses of power;…[T]he former, rather than the latter, are apparently most to be apprehended by the United States. (FP 63.)
It has taken over two hundred years to shift from “too much liberty” to “too much government power,” but America still remains within the two extremes of anarchy and tyranny, which is Madison’s test of liberty. It is our job to ensure America stays in the middle.
This is not to say that a multiparty system or a new viable party may not develop in America. Perhaps our condition will require it, as eventually it did in the 1860s. So, this raises the next question.
What should conservative citizens be doing now for the future?
Well-known political analyst, Pat Buchanan, has discussed for years the errors of the Republican Party’s direction, as have many well-known political commentators. Buchanan recently said, “if the GOP changes its product [of traditional conservative values], it may just lose its most loyal customers.” (Pat Buchanan, Who Killed the ‘New Majority’? March 25, 2013). Many Republicans agree with Buchanan’s sentiment, but what does this practically mean for conservatives who want to restore liberty? Here are some considerations.
First, the voter’s response should be based on what has already been established in Part 2 concerning ethical voting.
Second, all political movements are accomplished through viable parties, and so conservatives have a responsibility of maintaining the integrity of the most viable conservative party.
Third, “not voting for the lesser evil” has no practical effect on political direction. Arguably, a “protest vote” does not even move wayward Republicans more to the “right”; rather, it removes the true conservative influence from the party and allows non-conservatives to go unimpeded without chance of party discipline. In this case, conservatives do nothing more than protest while big-government lovers determine, unfettered, America’s direction.
Fourth, conservatives being splintered could happen only temporarily before they realized they must unite out of necessity to defeat the greater enemy. That some conservatives want to abandon the Republican Party today, in part, shows that we still live in liberty. The more liberty is taken in this splintered condition, conservatives will see how liberals and socialists dominate politics on the state and federal levels, destroying Enlightenment-Period notions of liberty and constitutional government. Consequently, they will be forced to rejoin forces to stop the Hegelian “Idea of the State” from becoming the Supreme Law of the Land. (See, Tim Baldwin, Comparing the Definitions of Freedom: Our Source of Dilemma, Parts 1-8).
Fifth, if conservatives reject the above considerations, they have a duty to create or thrust a third party political platform and organization viable enough to defeat liberals and socialists in both parties. Theories aside, this action is absent from reality today. This raises the next question.
Is such a third party movement foreseeable in the near future, much more practical?
The example of Ron Paul sheds light on the answer perhaps better than any. Ron Paul displays in his political career that creating a viable third party is not only unlikely but also foolish to restore liberty. Ron Paul honestly holds as many libertarian and democratic ideas as any Republican. Yet, he abandoned the third party approach years ago and never looked back. He used the Republican Party as his means of restoring liberty up until his last day as Congressman. This necessarily means that he saw no value in third party politics during his career and no future for it when he retired.
Additionally, history shows, had he not done this, the “Ron Paul Revolution” never would have taken place. As such, many of the liberty issues that are now mainstream would have never come to light. Political scientists and observers can truly say that liberty’s movement would have been severely diminished had Ron Paul stayed on the third party rail.
Even when Ron Paul retired as longstanding Congressman and had the best opportunity to lead a third party movement, he never suggested that conservatives advance an independent Tea Party movement. Of all national leaders who not only had the potential of igniting such a third party movement but also could see the need, it was Ron Paul. But that direction is altogether missing with Ron Paul and every traditional conservative on the national level, including Pat Buchanan.
Explanations or excuses may be provided to show why Ron Paul did not promote the third-party movement, such as, he did not want to jeopardize his son’s political career. Regardless of the excuse, the theoretical or speculative takes no priority over reality. The reality is, Mr. Independent and Constitution himself does not see the value in a third party political movement even now; and his son, Rand Paul, is extremely popular in advancing the Republican Party’s platform into mainstream policy, along with Republican Senator, Ted Cruz (TX). Were conservatives to abandon the Republican Party, Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and the like would never have a chance of becoming elected. Then where would liberty and our Constitution be?
These observations necessarily imply that the Republican Party is still the best party through which liberty can be protected and restored—though not perfect and needful of redirection and better leadership. Also, it proves that timing and circumstances are as important in politics as principles.
Call to action, not just criticism!
For those claiming America is in universal public alarm or is absolutely extinct of liberty, you cannot sit back, wait for “the collapse” and then brag, “see, I told you so!” as if proclaiming a ball is rolling downhill is prophetic or contributes anything to getting behind the ball and pushing it uphill. Instead of complaining about Republicans, perhaps you can get involved on the local and state level and be a voice of influence and persuasion in the Republican Party. You can also support federal officials like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz who are trying to protect our liberty and Constitution, along with the countless local and state officials doing the same.
Perhaps instead of enjoying your habits and hobbies, you can run for public office or a local precinct position that enables you to vote for party leadership. Perhaps instead of stomping and splashing mud on Republicans, telling them how dirty they are, you can help redirect the water’s current by placing more sandbags around our homes and communities and help clean the town.
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In short, naysayers and critics of the Republican Party hold a greater duty to restore the party that has helped protect our liberties for so long because they claim to see things that others do not. Are they going to blame the blind for falling into the pit when they themselves are not offering guidance into safety—not through criticism but through action and constructive involvement. The Republican Party will not change itself; it is comprised of people. The party platform exists to guide our efforts in restoring liberty, but like the Constitution itself, it requires people who believe in those principles to make them work.
Part 4, The States
Part 5, Constitutional Amendment
Part 6, Constitutional Convention
Part 7, Revolution
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© 2013 Timothy N. Baldwin, JD - All Rights Reserved
Timothy Baldwin, born in 1979, is an attorney licensed to practice law in Montana (and formerly Florida) and handles a variety of cases, including constitutional, criminal, and civil. Baldwin graduated from the University of West Florida in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in English and Political Science. In 2004, Baldwin graduated from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham, AL with a Juris Doctorate (JD) degree. From there, Baldwin became an Assistant State Attorney in Florida. For 2 1/2 years, Baldwin prosecuted criminal actions and tried nearly 60 jury trials. In 2006, Baldwin started his private law practice and has maintained it since.
Baldwin is a published author, public speaker and student of political philosophy. Baldwin is the author of Freedom For A Change, Romans 13-The True Meaning of Submission, and To Keep or Not To Keep: Why Christians Should Not Give Up Their Guns–all of which are available for purchase through libertydefenseleague.com. Baldwin has also authored hundreds of political articles relative to liberty in the United States of America. Baldwin has been the guest of scores of radio shows and public events and continues to exposit principles which the people in America will need to determine its direction for the future.
Web site: libertydefenseleague.com