Brewtown Politico

Carrying a little stick and speaking loudly in Milwaukee


Madison's wisdom

"Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes. And armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.

"In war, too," Madison continued, "the discretionary power of the Executive [Branch of Government] is extended. Its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds are added to those of subduing the force of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war...and in the degeneracy of manners and morals, engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."
--President James Madison in 1795.

Madison, the nation's fourth president, presided over a tumultuous period in our country's history, not least of which was the War of 1812. He co-wrote the Federalist Papers, and became known as the father of the US Constitution. As a check against what Madison warned about, he and others gave Congress the exclusive power to declare war. We have witnessed the results of what happens when a president declares war on his own, or is simply handed the power to do so by Congress.
"The Constitution expressly and exclusively vests in the Legislature the power of declaring a state of war [and] the power of raising armies. A delegation of such powers [to the president] would have struck, not only at the fabric of our Constitution, but at the foundation of all well organized and well checked governments. The separation of the power of declaring war from that of conducting it, is wisely contrived to exclude the danger of its being declared for the sake of its being conducted."
--Madison in 1793.


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