Jefferson’s Solution to Fix a Broken Republic
By: Tom Chatham
Recently, Casey Research carried an article on some obscure ideas Thomas Jefferson wrote to colleagues about. When the new constitution was finished he knew they had failed to create a perfect document. By 1810 he felt sure that there would be problems stemming from the constitution they had written and set about to provide ideas to fix the inherent problems with it. It has been called Jefferson’s Hundreds.
The regulatory structure we now have has morphed from the small government one that was created into a behemoth that is all encompassing and intrusive into individuals lives. This has come about due to the large voting blocks that have risen to power that now control the national direction. In Virginia, Fairfax County is a good example. This one county has the power to determine the outcome of state elections regardless of the people in the majority of the rest of the state.
The people in flyover country know this problem well. The politics in this nation have led to a small number of cities and states having a disproportionate amount of control over the rest of society. One of the things that keeps this reasonably in check during national elections is the electoral collage. This helps to keep a handfull of states from controlling all the rest but even that system is under attack.
Many now want to eliminate the electoral collage and go to a simple majority vote. If that happens it is easy to look at population densities and determine that only a handful of coastal states would be sufficient to override the will of the rest of the nation. This is close to becoming reality. It is no secret why the Democrats pour so much money into states like California, New York and Illinois. These states have large populations that are beholden to government handouts and they vote appropriately.
To buttress this type of corruption Jefferson suggested dividing the nation into smaller units than even counties. He suggested breaking it down into units of one hundred people each. This hundred person ward would in effect be its own sovereign entity or republic. It would only give the powers to state and federal governments that IT decided to cede to them. This ward would have its own leadership, school, justice of the peace, constable, captain of the militia and infrastructure that it needed to take care of itself.
While I like the idea, I think a unit of 200-300 would be more functional today but the idea is the same. Small groups that retain their full sovereignty would be difficult to corrupt like they are today. Units that small have the advantage of knowing and living near the leadership and can deal with corrupt officials face to face on a daily basis when necessary. One corrupt ward would have little effect on other wards due to their separate governing bodies.
You could still have counties, states and national governing bodies to deal with larger issues but the power would be retained in the individual units. It would also eliminate the redistribution of wealth from producing units to non-producing units which is a major cause of the corruption in society. Every ward would be responsible for its own well being. I also feel giving these individual wards one electoral vote each would go a long way toward more equitable elections at the state and federal level for offices such as President, U.S. Senator, Governor and state attorney general. State senators and representatives and U.S. Representatives could still be elected by majority votes.
If this nation enters another civil war in the future, I believe this type of governing structure will come about out of necessity as communities struggle to survive the destruction and protect themselves from the inevitable lawlessness that would follow. Small communities creating their own laws and institutions to protect their property and way of life is the only way forward if freedom and private property rights are to survive the current course we are now on.
Crony capitalism and rigged elections have led to the reigns of power being concentrated in a small number of hands. This is not only dangerous to society in terms of freedom but also in financial terms as wealth and hard work are siphoned off for the benefit of the few at the cost of the many. The decentralization of power is the only way to remove the sociopaths that now control our destinies. This was evident to Jefferson in his day.
Letter to William B. Giles, 1825:
I see with the deepest affliction, the rapid strides with which the federal branch of our government is advancing towards the usurpation of all the rights reserved to the States, and the consolidation in itself of all powers, foreign and domestic; and that too, by constructions which, if legitimate, leave no limits to their power.
Today when any county or state attempts to stand up to the corrupt policies dictated to us from national podiums, they are confronted with the only things that can be used against them. They are first threatened with the termination of federal funds and if that does not work the threat of physical force is used. Usually, the simple threat of loss of funds is sufficient to end the revolt as local governments are addicted to federal money like a heroin addict to drugs.
Until local governments free themselves from the financial chains of government subsidies and grants, and they develop their own economies and armed forces, will they be free from the tyranny that seeks to totally subdue them. Only when local communities have the ability to say NO will they regain their birthright.