In a previous piece devoted to the concept of balance, Mr. Hamilton identifies "the crux of the issue," as he terms it, between limited government and balanced government. And I think we may not find it a wasted endeavor to pause momentarily and to compare and contrast the respective mission statements of Cato Institute and The Federalist Society.
While Mr. Hamilton devotes his attention to the highlighted portions of the respective mission statements, I will endeavor to get to the root of our differences between the two approaches.
In reading Hamilton's piece it is quickly apparent what the crux of the issue is, on the surface, between libertarians and federalists. Likewise, if one reads the debate that ensued it becomes apparent what the crux of the issue is between the two at its roots. This, my friends, is what we need to get to. And thankfully for us, Mr. Hamilton anticipated that his revealing the differences apparent on the surface, would ultimately reveal those underlying causes responsible for those differences.
While we federalists tend to see government as a vehicle to preserve liberty, yet powerless of itself to effect good or evil of any kind, libertarians tend to see it, above all, as an institution possessing the tendency to be evil. This is the reason libertarians tend to want to limit government, first and foremost, thus limiting the evil it can do, while federalists tend to see balance as the better option, and precipitous to limiting it. Both perspectives wish to limit the perpetration of evils generally attributed to government.
However, Governmental power being what it is, - nothing more, nothing less - it is indeed a superior quality to balance the distribution and the separation of those powers exclusive to government. Those powers are: 1. The legislative (or the lawmaking, or decision making power); 2. The executive (or the power to execute the laws); and 3. The judicial (or the power to judge the intent, and/or the effectiveness of a law). These are the powers of government; the only powers of government. The phantom power of government to rape, pillage, steal, and kill citizens under its protection is simply an exercise of arbitrary power regardless of what level we're talking about, or what form of government happens to be the subject of our discussion. This is due to the human condition, having very little to do with government, except in its capacity as a vehicle to effect these evils.
We may also divide the levels and spheres of government into three broad categories: 1. The Federal (or National); 2. The State; and 3. The Local. While the separation principle is vital to our Contitutional Republic, so too is the balanced distribution of those powers of government among the respective levels and spheres of same.
While libertarians tend to see government as an enemy to liberty, Federalists tend to see it as as necessary to liberty as is oxygen to fire. And while fire can certainly be destructive, it can also be weilded and utilized for many good and essential purposes. While libertarians are quick to point to abuses of governmental power throughout history, making few, if any, distinctions between the different forms it takes in solidifying their points, Federalists are rather apt to consider the different theories of government, and to categorize and balance them. These theories of government can be reduced to three basic ideas and philosophies: 1. Aristocracy; 2. Monarchy; and 3. Democracy. These can be further broken down into sub-categories under their respective headings, but that's beyond the scope of this piece.
Interestingly enough, and opposed to conventional wisdom on the subject, the United States incorporates all of these forms into its uniquely "balanced" governmental structure, which can be termed a "Federal Representative Republic." Just as interestingly, too, these same governmental structures take shape in churches across the fruited plain, though the terms we use for them are a bit different. They are: Presbyterian, Episcopal, and Congregational, respectively. In broad terms, the central goverment takes on the monarchial aspect of government, the State governments take on the aristocratical feature, while the local governments take on the aspects of democracy. Once again, these are very broad categorizations, and in no way intended to be a minute detailed accounting. And it is in these very aspects of governmental form where the imbalance generally takes shape.
Over long periods of time, and in an effort to "limit" government, as opposed to, and at the expense of maintaining its balance, the people, who possess ultimate power in a Constitutional Republic, have shifted the powers of government in such a way as to make the federal take on more democratic characteristics, while the State and local authorities have tended to take on more of the remaining aspects of government as mere agents of the federal head. In effect, the United States has experienced a reversal in the "proper role" of the respective institutions, levels, and spheres of government. And this, being the root of the problem, is where we must make the necessary adjustments and corrections.
Indeed, it would be quite counterproductive of us to seek to continue to limit government at the expense of balance.
Regardless of whether we choose balance, or limits, however, either case involves the exercise of authority. In our peculiar instance the ultimate and final authority rests on the people themselves, and to paraphrase Mr. Jefferson: "I know of no better safeguard."