Let me submit the following for your consideration: The controversy on Barak Obama’s birth-certificate has gotten more legs than it warrants because there is a sense that he is foreign. This sense may actually be due to his understanding of American Government being out of sync with the historical American tradition of limited government in a federal system. In short, what we might be witnessing is the resurgence of the old American opposition to centralized power–whether in a national bank (e.g., Andrew Jackson cutting funding off in 1830) or in a multinational (e.g. Teddy Roosevelt’s anti-trust crusade against big business), or a central government (e.g., going from federalism to consolidation at the empire-level). If I am right, we are inadvertantly enabling all of these (take your pick) by focusing on secondary issues.
Barak Obama seems to assume that the only real government in the United States is the federal government. In other words, he ignores the fact that we have a federal system where the federal government’s powers are enumerated (i.e., limited) while those of the States are residual (i.e., unlimited). The idea behind this set-up is that a republic does not function as well at the empire level. There are several references to the United States as the New Empire in the Constitutional Convention (see Madison’s Notes). Ironically, Madison and Hamiton at the time of the convention would have patted Obama on the back for relegating the federal system and treating the general government as the national government. So Obama is not so foreign after all. Even so, I believe the subsequent consolidation the governmental sovereignty at the Union level has shown that delegates such as Madison and Hamilton (as well as Morris) suffered a pretty significant blind-spot (due to their excessive fear of dissolution). Although the media hasn’t picked up on this, I believe much of the popular resistance to Barak’s policies (he and I are the same age and have similar interests so I can’t help feel like he is a peer) is actually a sense that he is pushing the Union beyond its federal system to consolidation outright. There is something unAmerican about consolidated power. For that matter, why aren’t more of us looking back to Teddy Roosevelt (a Republican) in demanding that the banks too big to fail be downsized whether their execs like it or not? I suspect that the financial consolidation, now known to be dangerous economically, complements the sense of political consolidation…but the tea parties are only half on this. The liberal dems who want to get serious with the banks too big to fail can meet the populist republicans and both can agree to a federal system of government with power realized to take on the oversized corporate giants. We are all missing an opportunity here by pointing past each other at different evils. In the end, many of us have a vague baleful sense from the various manifestations of consolidation. We have a vague sense of a trend that seems to go against what Americans have stood for (i.e., against centralized power…which corrupts absolutely). Let’s just say that it is in the interest of big government and big business that we remain scattered. I honestly don’t know whether we have what it takes to rise to the occasion. All I see is anger directed out at various targets. Ironically, populist consolidation is necessary or THE consolidation will go right along and soon it will be too late for anyone to stop it. The Roman Empire fell from the weight at its center. I suspect that we too are heading inexorably in the same direction. Even knowing this is not sufficient to stop it. As a first step, I think self-discipline is necessary not to get side-tracked into focusing on the secondary issues (such as birth-certificates).