On Sunday, April 13, 2014, Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jay Bookman published a column entitled, “Money, Ads, and Candidates.” My remarks, below, were written on Bookman’s “MyAJC” blog in response to his column. Here is the link to Jay Bookman’s column: http://www.myajc.com/news/news/opinion/moneyads-andcandidates/nfXfZ/?icmp=ajc_internallink_invitationbox_apr2013_ajcstub1 Another, more effective link to Bookman’s column can be found here: http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/jay-bookman/2014/apr/14/money-isnt-speech-its-power/
“I admire Jefferson as much as anyone. He was one of our greatest presidents, but I would not support him for saint hood. One other big reason that he died penniless (among several others) is that he loved fine wines, especially fine wines imported from France. One of several expensive tastes that he indulged. And philosophically/politically, the man as got to be rolling in his grave watching the forceful intrusion of the federal government into every aspect of American life. He ‘turned against government’ once, and worked hard to turn other English citizens against their government. Hence, the American Revolution. My strong guess would be that he would not be an advocate for this every growing and ever more powerful, and ever more expensive, debt ridden, debt dependent, and increasingly unaccountable federal government that Americans are now living under.”
“Check out Jefferson’s chosen action when the Treaty of Paris (which officially ended the Revolutionary War) was nearly not ratified in time because too few delegates, from the various colonies, had not shown up in Philadelphia to vote for its ratification. Without a plurality of signatures ratifying that document, the newly formed United States of America would have appeared a weak nation, without internal cohesion, to most European powers, who would have, then, foreseen an easy victory in war against a divided, weak America, especially in regard to the control of the Western territories. (In fact, one of of the primary reasons Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon when he did was that Jefferson was aware that the strong centralized governments in Europe might wish to challenge America for the Western territories. Jefferson had even written to Dr. Clark, well before the Louisiana Purchase had become a ‘fait accompli,’ to entreaty Clark to consider exploring the territory, which would become the Louisiana Purchase, in behalf of the United States.)
Jefferson understood the importance of the young America’s appearing to European powers, immediately after the Revolutionary War, as a cohesive nation in which all states recognized the importance of a centralized government of the United States to speak in behalf of all of the states, in unison with one another. Yet, Jefferson also knew the real danger of his appearing to be coercive to the individual states by demanding their delegates’ immediate signatures ratifying the Treaty of Paris on time. Thus, Thomas Jefferson, in wisely recognizing the grave necessity of the United States’ being perceived abroad as having a strong central government through its securing the ratification of the Treaty of Paris, decided to pen by himself alone, a kind of legal ratification to the Treaty of Paris, using a previously cast plurality of votes by the colonies’ delegates to a similar, earlier version of that document which approved similar ends as the final version of the Treaty of Paris. Jefferson reasoned that his penned document would serve legally as a quasi-ratification to the Treaty of Paris until the United Stated had time to secure a plurality of delegates’ signatures approving of the the actual Treaty of Paris. (Jefferson had been unable to sleep and was becoming more sickly until he realized that he could, himself, devise this creative legal ratification of the tenets of Treaty of Paris through the power of his pen in conjunction with the votes of this previously ratified document.) Jefferson, alone, then, was willing to use his pen to make these states appear to overseas powers as unified and cohesive power, with a strong central authority, instead of as a weak coalition of states which fought endlessly with one another, without central control. Jefferson recognized that if European nations had heard that the Treaty of Paris had not been signed by enough of the states’ delegates to be ratified, then European nations would have laughed at the United States’ in its folly of thinking that because it had won the Revolutionary War that it was a strong nation. These dominant European nations would have, then, surmised that the United States was weak enough that it could be defeated in another war especially for controlling rights to Western territories. Jefferson’s creative, and risky, idea of how he could write a manipulated legal ratification was not needed, however, because enough delegates finally showed up to ratify the Treaty of Paris in time for their signatures to be sent overseas to Paris within the six months’ time period allowed. Obviously, Jefferson knew the value of central authority to the welfare of this nation although he supported states’ rights, also, so that the people’s interests would be served in a balanced way.
The states’ rights secessionist groups, of today, are not of Jefferson’s intellectual understanding of states’ rights. These ultraconservative, states rights’ advocates are denying American citizens’ rights, instead of expanding their rights, through diminishing voters’ rights in Republican-dominated states, diminishing medical care and medical insurance through not expanding the ACA in Republican-dominated states, diminishing women’s legally won rights of equality in pay and in the privacy of their bodies of the last half century, and in diminishing workers’ humane rights, obtained in the past century. It was Thomas Jefferson who had insisted that a Bill of Rights be included in the U. S. Constitution. (Check the facts regarding Jefferson’s strong role in making certain that the Treaty of Paris was ratified on time, in order to declare that America was a free and independent nation in the eyes of the world’s powers, in Jon Meacham’s recently published book entitled, ‘Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power.’
Jefferson felt so strongly against rulers of nations, i.e. kings and lords, controlling the lives of ordinary citizens that he penned the Declaration of Independence against that injustice being perpetuated further in the course of human history. Thomas Jefferson would never have supported the ruling-class oligarchy which is being created in America today, made up of (1) some of America’s billionaires who are also powerful business owners and CEOs and (2) self-interested politicians, who, working together, are seeking to create an America in which the wealthy and powerful will rule the masses of citizens of this nation. Jefferson, and our Founding Fathers, endorsed, with their signatures, these closing words of the Declaration of Independence: ‘. . .we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor’ so that that type of oligarchical governance would never, again, occur to equally created human beings, who are citizens of the United States of America.
It is a travesty of justice that many ultraconservatives within today’s Republican Party have deliberately tried to abscond with Jefferson’s brilliant mind by speaking self-righteously for Jefferson, himself, in order to serve their own more limited visions and self-serving interests.
Nevertheless, Jefferson’s actual words still resonate – through the centuries – with much more impact and power than these smaller minds envision. Jefferson speaks for himself, and for our other Founding Fathers, when he penned, within the Declaration of Independence, these words which will live forever in the world’s history:
‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.’ (and NOT deriving their just powers from the plutocrats of power and wealth who wish to control the lives and destinies of the masses of the people of this great nation)”