Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Marx, Madison, and Obama

One of our Congressmen here in Georgia, Paul Broun, had some pretty scary things to say about President-Elect Obama's suggestion of a civilian security corps:

"Broun cited a July speech by Obama that has circulated on the Internet in which the then-Democratic presidential candidate called for a civilian force to take some of the national security burden off the military.

""That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did,' Broun said. "When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist.'"

Uh... forgive me for pointing this out, Congressman, but did it occur to you that Obama's notion is also exactly what a hell of a lot of the people who founded this great country said we should do? Take a look at something James Madison said in the Constitutional Convention on August 23, 1787:

"As the greatest danger is that of disunion of the States, it is necessary to guard against it by sufficient powers to the Common Government and as the greatest danger to liberty is from large standing armies, it is best to prevent them, by an effectual provision for a good Militia."

And to the Framer's generation who, pray tell, was this militia that Madison extolled as securing liberty from large standing armies? It was, pointed out Professor David C. Williams, a citizen group:

"The militia was thought to be able to restrain corruption because it was virtuous and possessed ultimate control over the means of force. It was virtuous both because it comprised the universal people and because it offered training in the habits of virtue. And as the people, it was both government and society. The state raised it and ensured that it was universal... But despite this tie to the government, the militia was a people's body. Its membership included all of the citizenry, and if the government should ever become corrupt, it could resist by arms." (Emphases mine, this is from the 1991 article "Civic Republicanism and the Citizen Militia: The Terrifying Second Amendment," Yale Law Journal Vol. 101, pp. 551-615 at 563).

If Broun had criticized Obama's notion of a civilian organization on the grounds that our taxes might be raised to fund it, that would be one thing. But it takes a real lack of understanding of American history to hear the Obama plan and immediately think of Marxists instead of Madison.

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