Wisdom of the Founders and why we have less than perfect government

A few thoughts by Bill Golden
aka Bill4DogCatcher.com

“In questions of power,
let no more be heard of confidence in men,
but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution”
— Thomas Jefferson, Kentucky Resolutions, 1798

The Founders were fairly smart guys … although truth be told: most were braver than they were thinkers. The thinkers could be counted on both hands with a few fingers left over. And most spoke great words but were pragmatists with self-interest in their hearts when they woke up or went to bed each day.

Among the thinkers — those that gave us the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence — they were ultimately human and usually had their own dark side. My point being that government is what it is and the good ol’days were not necessarily better … we tend to remember the good and forget the other stuff.


Jefferson was right “in questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in men, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution” … but Jefferson himself has been accused of pushing the boundaries of executive power within the Constitution, and probably crossing those boundaries.

“It is incumbent on those who accept great charges
to risk themselves on great occasions.”

— Thomas Jefferson in a letter to John Colvin, 1810
where Jefferson anguished over the constitutionality of some decisions


Geo.Washington sent out almost 70,000 troops to collect past due taxes. When the then Tea Party of 1791 (the Whiskey Rebellion) refused to pay taxes … well, the troops returned home with the taxes and there were widows attending funerals of those that took up arms to protest paying. Washington also supported taxing citizens to pay for churches to continue their social work, continuing the practice of the former English government.

John Adams gave us the ‘Aliens and Sedition Acts‘ which made it a felony to criticize the federal government and it forbade any individual or group to oppose “any measure or measures of the United States.”  — So you think that Washingon is out of control now? Washington is a tame beast compared to the Washington of our founders.

Aaron Burr, one of our first vice presidents, was found guilty of treason for trying to setup a new country largely situated in the Louisiana Purchase area. And did I mention that Burr killed former Treasury Secretary and one of the Top 10 most important Founders Alexander Hamilton in a duel?!

The loss of Hamilton was immense as he was the ultimate pragmatic deal maker.

Virginia — even with the Bill of Rights added, Virginia refused to ratify the Constitution. Madison and Jefferson did their best … but it took Alexander Hamilton working behind closed doors making deals to bring Virginia into the fold.


It would be easy to become cynical. Skeptical is a better path. Optimistically skeptical is even better. Government is us. We exist and live our lives based upon self-interest. We do deals. We all do. That is us, and a government based upon us is no different.

If we want better government then we should seek out transparent government. We should be skeptical of ALL political parties because the price of membership is to sell your soul to the collective whims of many for the election of one. It has forever been that way and it will be forever that way.

Our options can be to constantly point out that government constantly falls into various pitfalls … but then so do we. It is us and we are it.

God bless America. Each day is a new day to try and to make things a bit better … and should that not work out then there is always the day after today to try again.

2 thoughts on “Wisdom of the Founders and why we have less than perfect government”

  1. I think this is pretty good. What I find most interesting is that people give our founders credit for more prescience than humanly possible. As you so aptly point out they were, “ultimately human and usually had their own dark side.” History has tended to gilt them and place then on a pedestal but once there, we have discovered they all had feet of clay about something. No one gets to be president of this nation who is not strong willed and somewhere deep inside ruthless. Not to pick on the Republicans but think about the last run up to the election but look at the number of SERIOUS candidates–there were eleven and it did not take long before they were attacking each other with great vigor, accusing each other of all kinds of things. There was blood in the water and the sharks were all around. In the end, Mitt Romney managed to survive not so much because he was the best candidate but because they could not agree on anyone else. And thus President Obama was reelected.

    We complain greatly about Congress and how they are a “do nothing” Congress. Well, how did they get there? We, the people, elected them. The country continues to wallow in debt and unemployment yet the Congress has not been able to do anything except let sequestration happen while at the same time they have been unable to pass a jobs bill. In the meantime they have attempted to defeat the Affordable Care Act more than 30 times–THIRTY TIMES.

    But as you note, there is always tomorrow-

    “The sun’ll come out
    Bet your bottom dollar
    That tomorrow
    There’ll be sun!
    Just thinkin’ about
    Clears away the cobwebs,
    And the sorrow
    ‘Til there’s none!
    When I’m stuck a day
    That’s gray,
    And lonely,
    I just stick out my chin
    And Grin,
    And Say,
    The sun’ll come out
    So ya gotta hang on
    ‘Til tomorrow
    Come what may
    I love ya
    You’re always
    A day
    A way!

    Fron “Annie” a wonderful story about hope!

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