What would George Mason Think of our Government Today?

Posted on March 11, 2013. Filed under: Founding Fathers, History, Politics, United States Constitution | Tags: |

English: Print of George Mason of Virginia bas...

George Mason of Virginia. Courtesy of the University of Chicago LIbrary and the Library of Congress American Memory digital collection. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

George Mason of Virginia was one of three men who, when it came time to sign the Constitution, refused to do so. Instead of signing, he wrote a series of statements regarding his objections to the new Constitution. It turns out his words were prophetic indeed:

  • In the House of Representatives there is not the substance but the shadow only of representation; which can never produce proper information in the legislature, or inspire conficence (sic)  in the people; the laws will therefore be generally made by men little concerned in, and unacquainted with their effects and consequences.

How many laws do we see passed that have unintended consequences, and don’t work as intended?

  • The Senate have the power of altering all money bills, and of originating appropriations of money, and the salaries of the officers of their own appointment, in conjunction with the president of the United States, although they are not the representatives of the people or amenable to them.

While the Senate is now elected by the people, how often do we see them vote themselves pay raises, or take House appropriations bills that are going nowhere, gut them and create their own appropriations bills?

  • The Judiciary of the United States is so constructed and extended, as to absorb and destroy the judiciaries of the several States; thereby rendering law as tedious, intricate and expensive, and justice as unattainable, by a great part of the community, as in England, and enabling the rich to oppress and ruin the poor.

How often do people feel they have not received justice? How many of us, outside of lawyers, truly understand the law? How expensive and tedious is it to run the gamut of the court system, all the way to the top?

  • The President of the United States has no Constitutional Council, a thing unknown in any safe and regular government. He will therefore be unsupported by proper information and advice, and will generally be directed by minions and favorites; or he will become a tool to the Senate–or a Council of State will grow out of the principal officers of the great departments; the worst and most dangerous of all ingredients for such a Council in a free country; From this fatal defect has arisen the improper power of the Senate in the appointment of public officers, and the alarming dependence and connection between that branch of the legislature and the supreme Executive. 

We have seen, at least in the last two presidents, the executive being guided by cronies and minions.

  • Hence also spuring (sic) that unnecessary officer the Vice- President, who for want of other employment is made president of the Senate, thereby dangerously blending the executive and legislative powers, besides always giving to some one of the States an unnecessary and unjust pre-eminence over the others.

How many vice-presidents have been useful, other than when a president dies in office? Can anyone actually argue that Joe Biden, Dan Quayle, Walter Mondale, Spiro T. Agnew or Dick Cheney were actually useful?

  • The President of the United States has the unrestrained power of granting pardons for treason, which may be sometimes exercised to screen from punishment those whom he had secretly instigated to commit the crime, and thereby prevent a discovery of his own guilt.

I’ll let that one speak for itself.

  • This government will set out a moderate aristocracy: it is at present impossible to foresee whether it will, in its operation, produce a monarchy, or a corrupt, tyrannical aristocracy; it will most probably vibrate some years between the two, and then terminate in the one or the other.

Yes, Mr. Mason, we have an aristocracy.

And finally……

  • The general legislature is restrained from prohibiting the further importation of slaves for twenty odd years; though such importations render the United States weaker, more vulnerable, and less capable of defence (sic).

I include this because Mason was a slaveholder who held (at his death) thirty six slaves on his plantation at Gunston Hall. Mason was one of the Founders who held slaves, but said that slavery was immoral, and that they should be freed, but not immediately.  He was fervently against importing slaves, and to keep the practice from spreading from where it was at the time, but he was against banning it from the south.

While the holding of slaves does not invalidate his views on the Constitution, it does show him to be a bit of a hypocrite when it came to certain subjects. One simply cannot be for the abolition of slavery elsewhere, except for where you live.

That being said, he was very visionary when it came to what the Constitution was allowed. While I did not comment on every objection, I felt that these were the most applicable to our current government.

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