Finding Solidarity in the Founders

“We the people, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

The words of our magnificent constitution echo in the hearts and minds of all Americans. In an exceedingly polarized nation, we can see that each person, regardless of their affiliation, appeals to these general principles. It seems that our forebears had captured the very essence of what a government was for and its purpose. What is even more remarkable is, whether they realized it or not, they were the first Americans to call for solidarity.

Solidarity bases itself on the notion of free association of persons into mutual agreement for the common good. The framers, in whatever wisdom the Almighty saw fit to give them, began the whole structure of governance around “We the people.” The very cause, the actual mover that makes our nation exist is the free association of the persons living there. It is not a royal we or a metaphorical we. It is the kernel of truth that “people…are linked together by a common destiny, which is to be constructed together, if catastrophe for all is to be avoided.” We are linked by our interdependence and need to work together to affect our common good.

Yet, implicit in that interdependence is the need for order and a form to the unified solidarity we have. Thus, we must form a union, binding each other together in law so as to make our stand more firm. And that union is to be the most perfect it can be. The law of the land must never be a cause of division or consternation but the legal representation of our free association and solidarity. It should reflect a national sentiment of unity and the striving toward better unity, rather than taking solace in forced dichotomies and brute political force. All throughout the Federalist Papers, Hamilton, Jay, and Madison talk about “the Union” and the best way to preserve it. These were not men willing to let the several states to dissolve into independent states or even separate confederations. We had, by our rebellion from Great Britain, become a new people and a new nation. As such, our unity was crucial. The Constitution itself is our expression of the founder’s intent and our continued intent–inspired by our human desire for community–for unity among our people for their common good and the good of generations to come.

The purpose of such a mighty endeavor is clear: justice, peace, security, prosperity, and freedom for ourselves and future generations. This is a lofty goal and many may quote Bismark’s pithy phrase, “Politics is the art of the practical.” While this seems rather pragmatic, it is a negative view of humanity. Basically, the mentality that we should be content with what seems practical instead of what seems ideal is what creates the problems of mediocrity. Our founders cried out for more and better things and they achieved it. They never believed that their posterity would attempt to stagnate in the things of the past or abandon their principles altogether. These principles are self-evident and universal, but they also need to be reexamined in the light of new problems. We hate to be so mediocre but it is easy. “From the depth of anguish, fear and escapist phenomena like drugs, typical of the contemporary world, the idea is slowly emerging that the good to which we are all called and the happiness to which we aspire cannot be obtained without an effort and commitment on the part of all, nobody excluded, and the consequent renouncing of personal selfishness.”

We know we are called to a greater life and a better happiness, but the mediocrity that we settle for is far more “practical,” that is to say easier. Our founders gave us a great tool in our constitution and the principles in it. Like any tool, it must be sharpened and honed with the passing years so that the executions of government can be precise and specific. They did not envision any government to be so over loaded with burdens and powers that cause it to strike like a blunt ax upon an insect, breaking all about while leaving the insect unharmed. Neither did they envision a government with no teeth; the Articles of Confederation were replaced because of such a problem. Rather, they created a structure so that the power inherent in the natural rights of every man may be exerted in such a way as to affect the common good rather than the majority interest.

That structure reflected an ideal known as subsidiarity, which goes hand in hand with solidarity. Madison wrote in Federalist 45 this lapidary quote that forms the basis for American subsidiarity: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.” Our forefathers did not envision a centralized government dictating domestic policy every year to the consternation of the states. The Articles of Confederation also showed that  the prevailing ideal was that the majority of the power be invested in the states to govern themselves. Who is better to regulate the the St. Joan river running through Dover, Delaware? The legislature that is right down the street or some office 200 miles away in Washington, D.C? Subsidiarity details that an issue be handled at the lowest level possible. Like the blunt ax striking the fly, a removed and large organization addresses local problems. Furthermore, the locality of the agency allows better solidarity in the citizenry to occur. The citizens are better able to have concerns addressed or voice opinions to local officials. Have far and removed offices handling their domestic affairs robs them of their natural solidarity and forces them in individualistic isolation.

The American Solidarity Party stands for Solidarity: the authentic and free association of persons and the only true and free union possible. Even though it may not have been their intent, it is remarkable that the patrimony of American politics from the founders speaks so much of unity and fraternity in relation to good government. It is as if, unbidden in their minds, their hearts, yearning for something greater than the dead democracies and republics of the Old World, stumbled upon the formula for authentic community and therefore Solidarity. I would say that the American Solidarity Party envisions the true intent of the founders in every respect, but especially the unity they desired.

After all, it worked for Poland.


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