Sept. 17 is Constitution Day — a time for governmentally sanctioned reverence for the U.S. Constitution. Typical of the paeans to the Constitution is this statement prepared by the American Bar Association: In a democratic and diverse society such as ours, what must tie us together as Americans are our shared values. At the heart of these values, and of our system of government, is the United States Constitution. If the Constitution is the heart of our shared values, it is little wonder that our society is in such a mess. The explanations and assurances of the Federalists, the men advocating adoption of the Constitution, largely missed the mark. In contrast, most of the dire predictions by the Anti-Federalists, who opposed ratification of the Constitution as written, have come to pass. The result is our dysfunctional federal system. For example, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, when urging ratification in The Federalist Papers, assured the people that the federal government would exercise, in Madison’s words, few and defined powers directed mostly to foreign affairs and trade. They denied that the new government would have the power to infringe the reserved powers of the states.
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