What’s a “trigger word” citizen to do?
Corbin & Parks on union and government
John Jay, a Founding Father of the American republic, discussed in the Federalist Papers the importance of the American Union as distinct from the government. But what does this distinction mean today? In “What’s a ‘Trigger Word’ Citizen to Do?” Professors David Corbin and Matthew Parks discuss the significance of the Union in light of the scandals involving the IRS, media wiretapping, and Benghazi.
The Union, Corbin and Parks write, is the “organic unity binding the colonists to one another and to the land they had settled.” The Constitution which defined government, then, would “‘cement’ this natural union by reinforcing its natural bonds.” The significance of this fact was not lost on John Jay. Corbin and Parks observe that,
“Jay’s loyalty, in other words, was also to the Union, rather than the government. A government that promoted the good of the Union was a useful means to a more fundamental end. But, of course, it would make no sense to sacrifice the end for the means. Thus, a government that undermined the Union—or threatened its existence altogether—had to be altered or abolished, according to the severity of the case.”
Standing in stark contrast to this conception of government is the Progressive movement. The Progressive movement, Corbin and Parks observe, rose from the belief that the institution of government, not an organic unity shared by citizens, is the solution to societal ills.
The key take-away from the current scandals, Corbin and Parks argue, is thus:
“...for Progressives, there is no the American people, but rather two peoples who happen to inhabit the same territory. The first group is comprised of those loyal to the ruling class and the government it ultimately controls. During a Republican presidency, their dissent temporarily becomes the highest form of patriotism, but it is only the administration, not the permanent infrastructure of the modern bureaucratic state, that they oppose. The government, in this sense, they faithfully support regardless of electoral outcomes.
The second group includes all those “trigger word” citizens who associate too closely with terms the IRS doesn’t like: “Tea Party,” “Constitution,” “Patriot.” Their dissent from the dogmas of the ruling class, in questioning the morality and practicality of the government leviathan, represents the most dangerous threat to American society. They are loyal, in the Founders’ language, to the Union, not the government, a misplaced love making them worthy of close surveillance, if not providing grounds for political divorce.”
Click here to read the full essay on The Blaze.
“What’s a ‘trigger word’ citizen to do?” is the second in a series of essays examining the relevance of the Federalist Papers to today’s contemporary politics.
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