Where is the Responsibility?

January 23, 2013 3:57 PM ~  
Watching the Benghazi hearings and observing the violation of the 27th Amendment by the GOP congress today reminds me of an outstanding argument made by Patrick Henry (The original Son of Thunder) against the US Constitution during the ratification debates:



Another beautiful feature of this Constitution is, the publication from time to time of the receipts and expenditures of the public money. This expression, from time to time, is very indefinite and indeterminate: it may extend to a century. Grant that any of them are wicked; they may squander the public money so as to ruin you, and yet this expression will give you no redress.

I say they may ruin you; for where, sir, is the responsibility? The yeas and nays will show you nothing, unless they be fools as well as knaves; for, after having wickedly trampled on the rights of the people, they would act like fools indeed, were they to publish and divulge their iniquity, when they have it equally in their power to suppress and conceal it.

Where is the responsibility? that leading principle in the British government? In that government, a punishment certain and inevitable is provided; but in this, there is no real, actual punishment for the grossest mal-administration. They may go without punishment, though they commit the most outrageous violation on our immunities. That paper may tell me they will be punished. I ask, By what law? They must make the law, for there is no existing law to do it. What! will they make a law to punish themselves?

This, sir, is my great objection to the Constitution, that there is no true responsibility, and that the preservation of our liberty depends on the single chance of men being virtuous enough to make laws to punish themselves. In the country from which we are descended, they have real and not imaginary responsibility; for the mal-administration has cost their heads to some of the most saucy geniuses that ever were.

The Senate, by making treaties, may destroy your liberty and laws for want of responsibility. Two thirds of those that shall happen to be present, can, with the President, make treaties that shall be the supreme law of the land; they may make the most ruinous treaties; and yet there is no punishment for them. Whoever shows me a punishment provided for them will oblige me.



Good Lord. He was so right. The Constitution was the death knell of liberty.