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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Strict vs. Loose?

Hopefully by now many of you understand the importance and relevance of understanding history (especially for this class - American History) and that you remember one of those key rules of history (that wonderful 3rd rule!).

Therefore, the question of how we should interpret the United States Constitution is still a valid discussion (or debate, depending on how you want to look at it).  Just as it was in the infancy of the nation, the question as to the divisional of governmental power continues to have a direct effect on how we often view the role of government.  Should the Federal government have the greatest power or should the States maintain the majority of the power?  We know from our study of the Constitutional Convention, that question was one of the major questions that, to some degree, never really gets answered (at least for some) and is still being debated today.  Example, some would argue that the debate over gay marriage should not be a federal issue since the Constitution does not address marriage (that would place it under the 10th Amendment - a power that lays with the States).  That's only one such example and of course, this blog topic is NOT about gay marriage.

For this week's blog, I'd like to hear your opinion.

BLOG QUESTION:
Should the Constitution be interpreted in the spirit of a Jeffersonian or a Hamiltonian? Strict vs. Loose.  Is Big Government the answer to America's current problems or should the role of the federal government be reduced?

55 comments:

  1. Hamiltonian’s loose interpretation of the Constitution reflects an extravagantly flexible and somewhat crafty administration of the federal government, a system of institutions quite near the edge of monarchy in which its officials try their best to snatch a superior, authoritative, or even semi-tyrannical powers and interests. Whereas Jeffersonian spirit, though seemingly rigid, accommodates a more democratic, liberal, and moderate plan that places the people and the state above federal government.
    From the standpoint of “the people”, Jeffersonian’s strict interpretation is more likely to be followed regarding that in order to limit Hamiltonian’s “infinite probabilities” within the Constitution---in other words--- “infinite powers” within the federal government, people’s rights and state’s rights should dominate. This leads to my next point, which is that the Big Government should be avoided at any possible measure, and the role of the federal government should be reduced, particularly in cases where a firm resolution in federal government would largely determine the outcomes of individual states, setting off a monarchical administrative mode. For example, if the federal government takes a majority of control on the controversy over gay marriage, the decisions within separate states would be equalized. Such conformity throughout the nation can be devastating: percentage of emigration would increase; suicide rate or murders would raise; discontent and protesting would raise…the worst of all, secession may occur if one or several states insist on implementing their own policies.
    The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 could be great examples of the consequences of a Big Government, or a squander of power by the federal government. If the government’s power is not promptly or legitimately checked and balanced by states and people, even the basis and guarantees of our unalienable rights would be trampled and confiscated. Other aspects like taxes should also be kept to states, a measure which would probably prevent many uprisings in relation to unfair taxes such as the Whiskey Rebellion. If the states are having control, or in a sense, sovereignty, over their people, it would be much easier to deal with varies problems since they don’t need to come up with a super comprehensive plan that covers the whole continent.
    Our nation is like a bunch of small classes, in which the best education is delivered when the attending students per class are kept at a minimum. Debates and conversation individually might decrease as many treasure, yet the education in each class would be more targeted at the welfare of every single person. If we are to combine these classes into a gigantic hall, with all the students packed inside and one megaphone sending out the instructions from one single teacher --- then no selectivity is left to the students and learning efficiency would drop dramatically in the perspective of individual student. Now in the case of U.S., we have the full equipment of such a condition---a bunch of states with their corresponding state officials, the only step left is to run the nation just as the way its components are arranged.

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    1. Hamilton's view on the constitution as on the "edge of monarchy" imperfectly describes the purpose of the constitution being eliminated. The goal of the constitution was in order to prevent tyrannical rule. Jefferson seems to have a singer view due to a "more democratic" and "liberal" mindset. I also agree with you're point that a Big government definitely has a higher chance of becoming corrupt and disregarding their obligation of helping the people, however at the same time a Big Government is needed to enforce laws and regulations.

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  2. Hey guys, I might have to cut this into two parts, because apparently I hit the 4,096
    character limit.
    The issue of how the Constitution should be interpreted has been in question since it had been first written more than 200 years ago. The two political entities that originally fought over the matter, Federalists, among them Alexander Hamilton, and Anti-federalists, among them Thomas Jefferson, both had very good points. However, I feel that the Federalist opinion, while at first seeming tyrannical and much too similar to the monarchy of King George III, has the potential to provide greater national security, as well as help the country to prosper financially. Proof of this can be found from our original constitution - the Articles of Confederation, or, as some has said, the Articles of Confusion. While it was a valiant stepping stone from the rebel Patriot Association, it gave Congress little to no power, and, when looking at the Association, which didn't give Congress ANY, essentially gave Congress "negative powers." Congress couldn't collect taxes, which meant that it couldn't pay off the immense debt it collected throughout the American Revolution. Congress could have relied on commerce to pay itself off - if the Articles had given it any power to do so. Without the power to collect tariffs, the states were allowed to collect duties at whatever rate they wanted. This moves me to my next point. People feared, and still fear, that a loose interpretation of the Constitution would create tyranny, and could even end up transforming into a pseudo-monarchy. To this I ask one question - if the states are given the major power, and not the central government, what is stopping them from turning into 50 smaller dictatorships? What would we do if that were to happen to a large state, say Virginia? We could all try to band together to form a coalition to stop the rogue state, with a council of top state leaders and officers - but wait, that means you're creating, for all intents and purposes, another powerful federal head! You could ask Congress to supply you with an larger army and weapons - but wait, you took Congress' power away already! You could raise a powerful militia at home - but wait, Virginia crushed you already! Some people say that the Alien and Sedition Acts are "firm" proof of the potential for the corruption of Federalist governments. However, as I said before, the states could easily just pass 50 individual Alien and Sedition Acts, just as the federal government can. Though the likelihood of every state turning into a tyrannical monarchy is highly unlikely, all it takes is for a few to light the fuse, and for that fuse to start a fire. Now, if Delaware and Rhode Island were to forsake their democratic spirits as I have described, that might not get everyone scared out of their minds. It is, however, a different story if Virginia, Massachusetts, and North Carolina were to do the same.

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    1. Also, imagine if the Quasi-War had exploded into a major war with France. What would France fear more: one large body that would meet its army at once, or thirteen smaller, individual entities that it could take care of one at a time? Even it every other state were to act together, the resulting disunity would give France an edge, meaning that the only thing America could do would be to give the federal government the power to regulate the entire country for their mutual defense. It's not like the states have never acted selfish in United States history. During the reign of the Articles of Confederation, states, which had the sole power to collect tariffs, often made their tariffs so low, they hogged international commerce. For those who like playing sports, think of it as that one person in basketball who is really good, but never lets you have the ball once, and because of it, no one ever gets good. Now, imagine the federal government as the kind of coach who makes the player share the ball, and as a result, the other players get better at the game. When the federal government has the power to collect taxes and regulate tariffs, the country, and as a result the states, benefit financially and defensively from it. Referring to our current issues, among them our herculean national debt, would transferring power to the states change anything? Would the national debt magically "poof" itself away? NO! Just because President Obama hasn't fixed the debt yet isn't proof that the way we have interpreted the Constitution is wrong. We've had a debt before, and it has been eliminated. This problem isn't impossible to fix! If the federal government's power is reduced, every single state could potentially lead to fifty different actions that could clash with each other. If the federal government isn't strong enough to tackle this threat, the union could fall apart at its seams. The federal government has shown us that it can use its power in a way that benefits the people of the United States, which comes from a loose, Hamiltonian interpretation of the Constitution. By interpreting the Constitution the Federalist way, you give the power to a federal government that can help the states and their people by raising money, and being better able to protect the entire nation from attacks. If we interpret the Constitution the way Jefferson would have wanted it, you don't necessarily fix the problem - in fact, it could potentially reinvent itself. Also, by turning the United States into a loose confederation, you destroy the unity that is necessary to defend the union - therefore, a Jeffersonian interpretation of the Constitution could potentially cause our beloved United States of America to shatter into pieces.

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    2. Brandon, you mentioned that if states respectively are having major powers, then they're most likely "turning into 50 smaller dictatorships"; however I think the term "dictatorships" here is indeed misleading. 50 states with different qualities or unique features of directing themselves, just as people with different characteristics, don't necessary mean they're despotic or completely disinterested in the nation as a whole. The federal head and the Congress are just like guidance counselors who aid, advice, offer necessary equipment, and only sometimes make the decisions for the states when them alone are incapable to handle the problems.
      Also, I'm a bit suspicious about the Alien and Sedition Acts part you pointed out. You said the states can just easily pass these acts just as the federal head can, and all it takes is for a few (large states) to light the fuse. But it's actually not "easy" to spread the motivation across the continent, esp like VA and NC that you brought up - those southern agrarian states were concentrated with democratic-republicans, making them impossible to impose these policies in any shape or form. And this pattern is not limited on this issue only, for other issues there would always be a distribution of states supporting on both sides, therefore it wouldn't be "easy" to uniform all the states. HOWEVER, it would be a totally different story if the law is proposed by the Congress. Then not only freedom of speech, at least in this case, would be exploited, but also the freedom of each state to make their own decision for their own inhabitants.
      Anyway the federal government might want to focus their attention on things like foreign policies and diplomatic relationships, which can only be operated on a nation-scale. It should also play a supervising, inspecting, and managing (not controlling) role regarding their position among the states.

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    3. (To Carrie) I agree with how you say that a federal government acts almost as a guidance counselor to the states. Also, I do see I made a few flaws with my example of Virginia and North Carolina. However, if a federal government has too little power, than the states might be able to disregard it, which would spur disunity. If Congress were to try to stop this action, under Jeffersonian ideals, it wouldn't have any army to fight with. History has shown that people of states other than the rogue state often have little concern with helping other states unless they are DIRECTLY affected, so, in the event where states surrounding the state in question were to refuse to take offensive action, or at least be unable to come to any sort of confusion, the only thing left to do would be to give Congress the power to raise an army to deal with the threat. Also, when I talked about states "lighting the fuse" I meant that, should one state's power fall into the hands of a pseudo-monarch, other corrupt, power hungry men could think "Hey, it worked in that state, so maybe I can do that here!" Congress has to act as a powerful backbone to the states, one that keeps order between them, and, as you said, handles national problems such as tariffs and taxation, as well as general problems that occur that puts one of the states in sizable danger.

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    4. There has always been disunity, no matter it's the American Revolution or the war of 1812 or other quasi-wars...sometimes it's regional indifference, and sometimes it's just two opposing opinions which should be viewed as being totally natural. I get your point that in some emergency cases the federal government must have some power to organize an army, and drag people from different states. Also at times when a Congressional force is needed to stop some "offensive actions", such as the Whiskey Rebellion suppressed by Washington's own troops, it's legitimate to grant it powers. Yes and only in cases where there's no other way around or that specific state or the nation in general would be in great embroilment and bloodshed.

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  3. The constitution should be viewed in the perspective of a Hamiltonian for various reasons. As previously discussed in class, the Constitution was designed to be a "living document", therefore it has to be flexible as the country continues to develop socially, politically, and economically. The issue with the Constitution being interpreted strictly is in the aspect that if the country as a whole faces a problem, who or what will we to turn to for help? One Jeffersonian may argue that is why we have the power of amendments, to modify the Constitution when needed. Although, in essence, it is technically the same as having a Hamiltonian ideology, with the exception that whatever we choose to do that is not in the original text of the Constitution, will now be integrated via amendments. The only difference would be that a Hamiltonian will utilize the original text in order to function directly, without having to add anything.
    Additionally, over time a loose interpretation of the Constitution has proved to work in favor of society. For instance, in times of war, with economic upheaval, and other crises, most people have tended to favor granting the government wide powers of action. Without them, it is safe to say that we as a nation, would not stand where it does today, especially in terms of world supremacy. Over the decades, those gradual expansions of power have led to a government much larger than originally expected.
    Take a look at it this way, in cities when the wind blows, skyscrapers have to have the ability to sway side to side in order to deal with the horizontal force of the wind. If a building of this size and magnitude were not granted the ability to sway whenever the wind blows, clearly it will break. The Constitution is a skyscraper. It has to be able to serve its purpose as a backbone to our country whenever trouble arises.

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    1. Iamka, the abilities of the federal government did promote national security, particularly in wartime, however on a more daily scale - a large federal head is just like a large standing army, and it's threatening to civil liberty. A loose interpretation, as you mentioned, leaves more space for a variety kinds of situations. But it can also be interpreted as "leaving more space" to only the government itself - and the upper class people working there, solely for self-interest and expansion of power just like in the revolutionary era. Specifically, when "gradual expansions of power have led to a government much larger than originally expected" over time, it's virtually unreliable to deduce that there's very little corruption within the government.
      The analogy is interesting, yet there's one distinct loophole - not to mention that if the skyscrapers have the ability to sway side to side, they would also have the tendency to crush while dealing with the wind; it's also evident if the building moves a substantial horizontal distance, the occupants inside would definitely feel it. Just as the Federalist who come up with extravagantly wide interpretation of the Constitution, would no doubt arouse some sort of panic or incredulity among the people.

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    2. I liked how you said that the very idea of adding amendments is essentially what turns a Jeffersonian into a Hamiltonian, and that history has proved how a Federalist (Hamiltonian) interpretation of the Constitution works for the benefit of the nation. However, when I read the part of your post about how a Hamiltonian would be able to use the original Constitution without changing it, I had the feeling that you believed that a Hamiltonian can completely disregard the idea of amendments. No matter how loose an interpretation we decide will work for the Constitution, it can't have an answer to everything. Therefore, even a Hamiltonian must take advantage of the practice of adding on amendments to extend the Constitution's reach. When you never amend the Constitution, you limit the federal government to what it can interpret from the Constitution's main body, which in turn restricts it (or "Jeffersonizes" it) to a certain extent.

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    3. Iamka you stated how "skyscrapers have to have the ability to sway side to side in order to deal with the horizontal force of the wind." this doesn't make sense in terms of a skyscraper, however, i do understand that you are trying to say the constitution should be as rigid as it is. Then you stated "If a building of this size and magnitude were not granted the ability to sway whenever the wind blows, clearly it will break" A skyscraper is known for strength as the constitution is which our government must follow. the constitution is this strong in order to be able to easily rule over the people, therefore keeping them in control. As we know the government's main job is to make sure everything is running accordingly and smoothly for the people. If the government is too flexible the sense of power would be eliminated.

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    4. I like how you mentioned the flexibility that should exist with the Constitution. Allowing flexibility can create a more established and united nation. It builds the nation economically, socially, and politically. Also, allowing the government to carry more power will keep the states together. Most government officials are trained to handle the job of taking care of our nation whereas many people in the states aren't prone to do so. And I love the metaphor!

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    5. Iamka, I agree with you when you said that Hamiltonians are better for use because it benefits us socially, economically, and politically. But how? You should interpret more on how each one can be beneficial by Hamilton's ideas rather than Jefferson's methods.

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    6. I agree that we should be have a federal power, however would it make sense if someone from the White House told New Jersey to change some of the taxing? The states have the best intentions for their own. The federal government should allow states to make some of the decisions for themselves. The federal government keeps us "United", while the states make us independent.

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    7. Your skyscraper analogy was interesting in that there must be a balance between rigidity and flexibility in order for it to keep from collapsing. The Constitution is the sacred law of the land and must be treated as such, but it must be loose and flexible enough that it can still fulfill its duty of protecting and promoting the peoples' needs/interests when a situation occurs that's not specifically mentioned in the document.

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    8. Iqra, I have not stated that the government should become flexible, I was only going on to say that the Constitution should be interpreted loosely in order to make decisions fast and to have the ability to utilize the document as an aid whenever we are in trouble. The government should be strong when in charge of so much land, especially when sovereignty amongst themselves was becoming something desired.

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    9. i totally agree with you, but if you were going to state socially, economically, and politically, you need to elaborate on that. you really never say anything much about it... Y?!?

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  4. Why are rules or guidelines set? In order for something to operate or function properly a procedure needs to be established and followed. The constitution can be viewed as a set of rules put together by our founding fathers that must be fooled for a functioning society. The constitution can be viewed either strictly or loosely. A strict interpretation of this document means everything must be done according to the constitution while a loose interpretation allows for “interpreting” the document and somewhat relating it to the circumstances. The problem with a loose interpretation of the constitution is that these set of rules would no longer be rule. They would be able to be changed at any time period and would not keep the United States as organized. With one set of rules already being implicated, bring forward a brand new set of rules with just cause more chaos and disputes. Some people may not agree to the revisions. Loosely interpreting the constitution would erase the meaning of a set of rules our fathers have set! Jefferson stated “To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition.” Removing the power of the constitution would eliminate its core meaning. A higher power is definitely needed in order to run a nation and keep everything in order, however, too much power does cause corruption. The government is obligated to serve the people, not to abuse its power.

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    1. You made a very good point about how the Constitution has to act essentially as America's rule book. I also liked how you said that the ability of the government to change its powers at will contradicts the idea of having a rule book in the first place. However, I have one point to bring up. You said in your post how a loose interpretation of the Constitution would rob it of its power, suggesting that a Jeffersonian interpretation of the Constitution would actually give the federal government more power, which, in my opinion, contradicts the views of the Jeffersonians, who wish to give the federal government less power, and the states more. Then, however, you go on to say that too much power "causes corruption," signifying that a Hamiltonian interpretation of the Constitution would give the government too much power. I feel that you contradicted your own views, and, at one the point, the views of the Jeffersonian Anti-Federalists as a whole.

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    2. Iqra, do you mean "fueled for a functioning society"? Anyhow, your concept - vastly interpreting the Constitution = potentially distorting or even destroying it - is exactly the defect in Hamiltonian ideology. Nevertheless, I wouldn't say that by loosely interpreting it, the original meaning would be erased. In a more conservative sense, I would prefer that it's to be extended, while keeping and somewhat twisting around the former rules. And I have to say great quote from Jefferson, a little research proved that to be Jefferson's opinion in regard to the Constitutionality of a National Bank in 1791, whereas his position on the issue of Louisiana Purchase in 1803 (no clause authorized president to negotiate treaties incorporating an expanse into the union) can be drastically different comparing to his once firm Jeffersonian ideals...just for reference.

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    3. Although you bring up some good points, I agree with Carrie on this one. Just because a loose interpretation of the Constitution is established doesn't mean that the original foundation or rule of the Constitution is completely erased. It is only evolved or changed a bit to better suit the situations we live in today.

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    4. You say that loose interpretation may have some down sides, and mention that ,"the problem with a loose interpretation of the constitution is that these set of rules would no longer be rule." However, they will definitely have enough rule in order to make sure that everything is in order and the United States doesn't crumble into total destruction. There will still be government officials, and a strong central government to regulate all the rules and amendments that may be changed in the constitution. Just because a change is mentioned, doesn't mean it will be changed right away because someone gave their opinion. They still will have to go through a long process in order to get it passed. They are smart enough to regulate things like that in government to keep it organized.

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    5. Iqra,
      This post is true because when a set of rules become loose, they aren't rules anymore. There is an abundance of hidden corruption within our government and we shouldn't feel comfortable when they are distorting the meaning of our liberties. A loose interpretation is a gamble since we're not sure what the government is allowed to do anymore. We also don't know how far the government could go with these changes or if it will even help the populous at all.

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    6. It does not seem to me that you had chosen a side in your blog post. In the first half of the post, you had argued why a strict interpretation was not a good idea, but in the latter half, you had seemed to argue strongly for a strict interpretation of the Constitution.This duality seemed to weaken your overall post strength due to the unwillingness to take a side.

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    7. I have to agree with Fedah and Carrie on this one. Loose interpreters don't seek to create new rules to overthrow the ones in the Constitution. The original rules still apply, just in a way that benefits the country and the public good. As Pranav pointed out in his post, there's technically no mention of terrorists in the Constitution. Had we stuck with a strict interpretation, one where what is not allowed in the Constitution is forbidden, the US would be kind of screwed. You quote Jefferson, which is a foreboding point of view but you must consider how many safeguards (Bill of Rights, peoples' consent, checks and balances) there are against just using the Necessary and Proper Clause willy-nilly, especially in today's time where everything practically we do affects another country somewhere else.

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    8. "The problem with a loose interpretation of the constitution is that these set of rules would no longer be rule."
      the problem with that is THAT IT WAS OVER 100 YEARS AGO MAKING SOME OF THEIR RULE OUT OF DATE. if we had people like that during the mayan times, would there laws would work today, no. take any laws from awhile ago, and you can find many holes that would make it not even close to fitting in our society.

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  5. Although the interpretation by Jefferson, or a strict interpretation, of the Constitution has it's benefits, there are many reasons why the Constitution should be viewed in the perspective of a Hamiltonian (loose interpreter of the Constitution.)

    Let's suppose that, hypothetically, our country is in trouble and is in desperate need of help. Let's also suppose that the one action we need to do in order to stop this trouble is not mentioned in the Constitution. As strict interpreters of the Constitution, we are prohibited from performing the action needed to help our country. This can cause endless problems in our country. Strict interpreters, or Jeffersonians, would never allow any leeway to the Constitution, which would only cause the country harm.

    When the Constitution was put together by the framers, times were different. For example, unlike now, the 2nd Amendment was an important one. It allowed farmers and hunters at the time to have a gun for safety reasons and more. Nowadays, carrying a gun isn't as crucial as it was then. We don't need it as much. Also, a Hamiltonian interpretation of the Constitution allows it to evolve to match more recent understandings of matters that involve equal rights, treatment of races, etc.

    Yes, our Constitution is a foundation for our nation. But, it was written in a time where our nation hadn't gone through much yet.

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    1. Yes, the constitution was created in a time period where things were less complex. I definitely agree with you in that. The problem is say we do make a few changes to the constitution. I feel the power the constitution would not remain the same because once something has been changed it doesn't hold the same significance.

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    2. I like how you brought up that the second amendment, which is one of the most controversial amendments of the Bill of Rights, isn't even as useful as it was 200 years ago. Back then, a good portion of the country hunted their own food to survive (and were armed basically with what the government gave its soldiers.) Now, the idea of a civilian militia to counter possible federal tyranny is irrelevant because a populous with pistols wont even begin to stand up to the U.S. military. However, I feel that, as (ironically, because I argued for the Hamiltonians) Thomas Jefferson said, when the people fear the government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty. I still agree with you that the government has to have the power to loosely interpret the Constitution the adapt to current situations, but I still feel that an armed populous could potentially represent a "shadow army," one that most likely will never show itself, but still maintains a presence that commands respect from the government.

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    3. I like how you made an example to strengthen your point. Also, I believe that you are correct when you say that if we have a loose interpretation like Hamilton thought, it will allow us to make changes in the Constitution which may be helpful in the future, especially in rough or tragic times when an amendment might need to be changed.

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    4. Fedah,
      Although loose interpretation could be beneficial in some cases, essential rights need to be preserved. Even in our republic, tyranny could still have the potential of occurring. Loose interpretation leaves a large gray area on what the federal government is allowed to do and many of those actions could actually end up being detrimental to the people rather than beneficial. There should be no leeway when discussing freedoms like the freedom of speech for example. In history, people like Stalin and Hitler took civilian guns and then launch their wrath when the people were suppressed. So because of the potential of oppression, we must be strict on following the Constitution.

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    5. Although one of the reasons the Second Amendment of the Constitution was designed in part because of food and protection purposes, another major reason why the Second Amendment exists is due to the possibility of what Vinit mentioned in his reply to your blog, a tyrannical government. It is because of this that it is that the Second Amendment must not be changed, and by extension, the Constitution should not be changed.

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    6. I understand where you're coming from Vinit, but I'm not referring to freedom of speech, religion and media but to the rights that do not really apply to us nowadays, such as the second amendment. Having a loose interpretation allows the nation to discuss and minority change rights in the Constitution that don't really apply to us. And although a Hamiltonian view may be detrimental, a strict interpretation can be just as detrimental.

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    7. But yes, I do agree with you guys on the fact that the second amendment was created to prevent a tyrannical government. I agree.

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    8. i totally agree, if we as a country were in some type of trouble, our constitution would be out of date and wouldn't solve our problem, it could even turn that problem into something much worse to get away from, cause state to "separate" from america

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  6. In 1791, Hamilton proposed a plan for "The Bank of the United States," and some were skeptical if this was Constitutional, which led to this debate in question. The issue led to Hamiltonians vs. Jeffersonians since loose followers were against strict followers. The Constitution should be followed strictly in order to preserve essential liberties. In many countries there are examples where the government takes away basic liberties before suppressing the populous and loose interpretation gives room for that to occur. A loose interpretation creates a gray area. How would we know what's too far with loose interpretation? This interpretation could distort the very fabric and integrity of the document since it could be bent easily. Liberties could be in jeopardy of being loosely interpreted and a tyrant government could form. A prime example of this is the Alien and Sedition Act. Major 1st amendment rights were suppressed like the freedom of speech for example. No one was allowed to speak against the government at all and many were imprisoned for defying the government. It is very possible that the loose interpretation could lead to this oppression once again although we don't like to think about something so horrid in a democratic society. Although some parts of the Constitution may be "outdated," such as the second amendment(the right to bear arms), as a whole, strict interpretation could only preserve essential liberties that might otherwise be abused.
    The power of the federal government should be reduced in current times because it suppresses the states' powers. Every state has a different internal climate so unification of the states' problems doesn't make sense. As discussed in class, the distribution of wealth is not necessarily a good thing and it could cause major problems between classes. When the US national government absorbed states' debt, in the late 18th century, larger agrarian states were angry because they paid off debt unlike more industrial states. This is unfair on many levels and a stronger central government could not accurately account for all states because of their differences. There will always be state differences economically and in general opinions so a strong central government would just end up favoring one set of states over another set in virtually all decisions. State government could more accurately benefit the people in the state in the decisions they make. Additionally, the national government today is spending money absurdly and many states shouldn't have to deal with erroneous spending. The national government is flawed(to say the very least) and the only real way to solve problem is to reduce the power of the government into smaller pockets of power held within the states.

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    1. The example of the Alien and Sedition Act in your blog which supported the Jeffersonian view of the Constitution, is not a good example because no matter how strict or loose the interpretation of the Constitution, it is first priority to make sure the act itself is Constitutional. The Alien and Sedition Act is unconstitutional by its very essence, and thus was not an example on the failure of the elastic clause, which supported the priority that an act is constitutional, but an aberration that should have not been passed.

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    2. The federal government can become too powerful because of the decisions made against all 50 states which each having their own unique setup. However, if the states become there own power they won't help other states because they're to busy with their own state. Ergo, they will become independent and we are no longer united.

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    3. Yes, our national government is flawed, but it still binds us to each other and forces us to be the "united" states that we're so proud to be called. Each state already has a degree of sovereignty and their own government (remember, they've been granted practically all rights not specifically forbidden by the Constitution; as Mr. Gehm says, although we're the US, we often associate ourselves first to our state). However, by giving them even more, we run into the danger of losing our unity and states starting to consider themselves completely sovereign (like Texas is hinting to do).

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  7. Personally, strict and loose government, whatever the case may be it should benefit the outcome of the good of the people in the end. Thomas Jefferson believed more on the side of strict and believed that the states should have most of the rights. While, Hamilton focused more on a loose government, where they had a strong central government. Technically both sides could be interpreted in a way that benefits the people, however without a strong central government, who will be there to back us up when the states go into chaotic messes after a war, or certain tragedy that occurs.

    By following the "loose" government, it will allow us to have a strong central government, as well as following democratic ideas, in order to give the people a few freedoms to go along with the list that Congress may be in charge of. In today's society, if the states were to control every part what the government today does, each individual state, will end up being their own countries, like France, UK, and Ireland. They are all n Europe, however they set their own rules and laws according to their country. In this case, it will turn into a chaotic mess, just because of the fact that some states are clueless in knowing how to control that many people, and others would rather dictate as a whole in order to strengthen our borders from outside forces. By unifying all 50 states, even from very long ago, they knew they it would make us stronger and benefit us in the long run. So, people may have two separate views on how the government should really be, and truthfully we need both sides to balance Congress and make sure that both views are noticed in order to make it beneficial to the generations to come.

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    1. Agreed, it is unfortunate that there isn't a system that could allow both the federal government and the states to have equal power. This would prevent the something similar to the Articles of Confederation or the colonies rebelling against Great Britain. The constitution overall is to benefit as a whole. With a big government you just have one big state. If you have the states with all the power you have 50 countries.

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    2. I agree that its all based on your interpretation and that it should, however, benefit the people. The loose interpretation, as many people choose, allows for more leeway to fit different situation occurring at different times and places. I remember last year, we watch this "Did you know?" video for a blog post and it made a statement that basically said that we are all preparing for a future where everything is changed. How can you prevent a problem in the future with a strict interpretation, if you never knew the problem even existed?

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    3. Your argument was good and i believe in your viewpoint as well but did you say that Ireland, France and UK used to be states of Europe? They never were they are individual countries.

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    4. Juliet I agree with the comparison you made with Europe, as the "States" would be just like that and competition with each other would only heighten the probability of war. A strong central government enforces law in order to create unification, which in essence, is what we all wanted in the first place.

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    5. true, if the states had more power than the government, they would most likely become their own nation. if the debt got to high, and a certain state had almost no debt to pay and didn't want to pay for other state's, why not leave. they have the power to and have been handling themselves well.

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  8. Think about the lifestyles people of varying social classes in the 1700s. Decimal coinage was just being introduced, tungsten was only just discovered, and the fastest mode of transportation was simply a fast horse. Now consider the modern day, where technology's complexity is increasing at an exponential rate and man can now travel faster than the speed of sound. The United States of America transformed from a tiny seedling of a nation to one of the biggest superpowers in a world where bombs can destroy countries. The difference in times is immense, which is why a strict interpretation is not a viable option for a central government at all. The Founding Fathers, intelligent as they might have been, could never fathom the extant of technology's advances and the rapid change of society. The Constitution never mentions what protocol to operate if the country's electricity is shut off, or what to do if it becomes unreasonable to not separate the church and state in a wildly diverse republic, yet these are , and should be, issues that are considered national affairs as they affect the 300 million people who live in it. The elastic clause, and by extension, Hamiltonian policy to the Constitution, is necessary because it helps avoid problems the country could encounter, even though it was not directly written in the Constitution. If it wasn't for this clause, then there would have been no protocol for a terrorist attack, as it is technically not an attack by another country, and thus, the Constitution would not apply to such a national threat, making politicians actually have more power as they would be able to decide the precedent for a terrorist attack.
    Big Government is the logical, most effective way of dealing with the current situation, but only if done in the right way. If the task of righting the problems of the country is delegated to the various states, which would all have (theoretically) equal power, a vicious power struggle not seen since the Civil War can ensue as states vie for dominance. The same problem that occurred during the Articles of Confederation would also happen, as states ask for money from the diminished central government, with the nation government's coffers not being filled because the states would view themselves as being more powerful than the government. A weaker central government would ultimately bring about a power struggle between states and no strong power to solve the issues. In the current situation, however, where the central government cannot agree with itself, nothing can be gained.

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    1. "The Founding Fathers, intelligent as they might have been, could never fathom the extant of technology's advances and the rapid change of society"
      I agree 100%, a loose, flexible interpretation is needed to fit any changes. If it was a strict interpretation, more problems would be added to today's world.

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    2. Pranav,
      The nation has came a very long way from the 1700's but we are discussing the essential ideologies of the Constitution rather than protocol for various scenarios. The main purpose of the document is to ensure a proper government that will respect and give democracy to its inhabitants, however aren't large governments more prone to subordinate their populous? A government should have power, but not as much as it does today. You stated that a large government is best, but government jobs are one of the most burgeoning sectors in job growth currently and isn't it extraneous for a government to have that many positions? It shouldn't be that large at all.

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  9. Just like history, the Constitution is interpretive. From the standpoint of a Hamiltonian, a loose interpretation should be the way to go. This would allow more leniency and will be flexible to fit any given circumstance. On the other hand, the Jeffersonian viewpoint interprets the constitution strictly, which enforces all laws verbatim. The problem with this is that there is no leeway for different situations that take place at different times. The Constitution should be interpreted in the spirit of a Hamiltonian.
    Having a strong central government isn’t great because power corrupts; however, it’s better than giving them less power. There has to be some sort of structure, some guideline to be enforced and followed. Less power to the government means more power to individual states, thus making the United States less united. On the contrary, America’s current problems would be reduced to an extent if more power was given to the states as this additional power would allow them to take matters into their own hands. As done previously in history at a time where states weren’t completely unified, each individual state had to pay off their own debt; however, when worse came to worst, other states were FORCED to help out, consequently, creating further problems which led to the need for a strong government.

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  10. It is difficult to have a federal government have more power over the states when they have to deal with 50 of them and has no clue what kind of opinions people develop there. Yet, if you take away the federal government you won’t really have a “United” States. Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson both It must try and be split 50/50, call me an “average” constitutionalist.
    If the federal government contains more power than the states then the outcome will result in somewhat of a dictatorship. When the U.S was before known as the British Colonies, what orders the royal government had given the colonies they were expected to follow, which eventually resulted in a revolt for their independence. Aside from the taxation, there was a diversity within the colonies of people from different parts of Europe. Considering that someone across the Atlantic Ocean was spewing orders on what they can and can’t do was outrageous. How would they know what was happening in each colony? Each colony has a different layout and not the same solution. If you were to pass a law in one state, another state might repent it.
    If the states have too much power than there will be too much disagreement between each state. What you can trade and how much you get for it is an example. Each state would technically be their own country. The states would technically just tax themselves not allowing the other states to grow as a whole. The Articles of Confederation confirmed these beliefs. There was no power what to the federal government which created difficulties. Boundaries, taxation, and commerce all became issues. In other words we might as well call ourselves “The States of America”.

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    1. "Yet, if you take away the federal government you won’t really have a “United” States." True, With all our disagreements and view of how things should run, the government is basically the glue that keeps us together. Without it, I think this country would've collapsed by now.

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    2. Dylan the point that you argue of what the country would look like with a weak central government makes total sense (the AOC). Unity would be very little to virtually non existence, giving us a more reason to want a strong central government.

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  11. The framers of the Constitution were all brilliant men and they had the foresight to make the Constitution into a living document capable of growing, adapting, incorporating things relevant to the living generations. Yet they could never have predicted every single problem the US would face in the future, nor could they imagine how powerful and globally connected we would eventually be. A loose interpretation is then needed in order for the very foundation of our government to still successfully serve us. Strict interpreters who point to the ability to amend the Constitution as a solution do not realize just how difficult and laborious it is to pass an amendment in Congress. Amendments cannot help us fix current problems, especially in times of crises, if it takes months for them to pass through.

    The big question that strict interpreters trumpet is this: what, exactly, is necessary and proper (and who gets to decide on this)? The necessary and elastic clause can be used for a near infinite amount of possibilities and this heightens the potential of corruption. Yes, there is potential, but then again, when is there never potential for corruption in a government? Plus, there are already numerous safeguards against abusing it too much. Authority figures can't just claim something is necessary and it automatically gets passed. It must pass the checks and balances instilled in the US government; it must pass other authority figures; to some degree, it must also pass the consent of other countries we are hopelessly entangled with; it must not violate the sacred Bill of Rights; and above all, it must pass the consent of the common masses.

    Yes, the Constitution is the law of the land, not to be taken lightly. But in order for it to protect and promote the interests and needs of the individual and the states and the country, it must be allowed to adapt as necessary.

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    1. Hannah, you make an great argument when highlighting the reasons as to why a strong central government is necessary in order to run our country today. And that is completely true on the amount of time that it takes to pass an amendment. If we were to operate like this, then honestly we would take very long to accomplish anything.

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  12. The constitution of the united states, should be viewed in the Hamiltonian for various reasons. the Constitution was designed to be ever changing to the country, so it has to be to be able to make additions to as the country continues to grow socially, politically, and economically. The problem with the strictly interpreted Constitution is being in that if the country as a whole is faced with a problem, what will we to turn to for help, if the constitution is strict, there is no way that our country can adapt to such changes. what if keeping neclur weapons was starting to become a problem, well we have the right to have weaponry, so we could have nuclear weapons on the street (i know this is a weird example but you never know about the future??!?!?!). i mean if we still followed the same constitution from the 4 fathers, america probably won't be a country cause as we change as a people, we change as a nation, and so should our rules.

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