“It is to me a new and consolatory proof that wherever the people are well-informed they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.”
— Thomas Jefferson, January 8, 1789
Thomas Jefferson couldn’t have known specifically about the special senate election in Massachusetts but he certainly knew that such moments would come in the course of the nation he helped found.
It is a testament to the brilliance of the framers that a statement such as this one could resonate so strongly 220 years later.
I’m tickled to death with Scott Brown’s victory over Martha Coakely in Massachusetts. I think it proves that Thomas Jefferson was right and I think it proves to politicians of both stripes that in the end, they don’t tell us. We tell them.
But truth be told, we shouldn’t have to care who the voters of Massachusetts send to Washington. If the people of Massachusetts or New York or California want to be hard left liberals and vote accordingly, God bless. This is because the federal government under our Constitution is designed to be so severely limited in its scope that a momentary majority by one party or the other should have very little ability to bring about a materially adverse impact on my life here in Texas.
But the designed limitations on the federal government have been greatly exceeded. The founders never imagined that the Congress would one day set forth the conditions under which business owners could hire and fire employees, or set a lower limit or upper limit on what they must be paid, or tell you out of what materials you must build your house or what must be taught in your child’s school.
The framers never envisioned a federal government that would regulate the force of your showerhead or the flush capacity of your toilet.
The framers got sick and needed doctors. But they would be shocked to learn that one day the federal government would seek to intervene in that transaction.
The founders of our country got around on horses and buggies that were beyond the reach of the government they created. Everything about how you travel today is within the purview of Congress.
Therefore, since the federal government is now inextricably a part of all of these things and more, it now matters to me who gets elected from every state in the union. I have just as much a stake in the Nevada senate race as I do in the senate race here in Texas.
It shouldn’t work that way but it now does.
But for the heaven-sent surprise victory of the improbable challenger in the Massachusetts special senate election, a disastrous health care package would be only days away from becoming law.
It is testament to the good people of Massachusetts that when push came to shove, they proved Jefferson’s belief that we Americans can yet be trusted with our own government.
But it’s frightening that the federal government has become so pervasive and the Congress so imperious that it boiled down to one individual out of 310 million to keep a tragic mistake from becoming the law of the land.