Using Jefferson As A Cloak for Revolution

By Steve Farrell

Democrats In Drag, Part 7

Tyranny will never bind a great and free people by preceding its terrible deed with a confession of ill intent. To believe that is to believe nonsense. In free societies slavery is won by consent; and consent is won with a disarming smile, a sympathetic heart, a list of promises to groups, a series of solutions to crises, and above all by attachment to a seemingly good cause.

Third Way socialists, like every other socialist (by any other name), are not unaware of such stratagems. They live by them. That is why that although their foundational literature abhors the Constitution in both subtle and direct language, their public statements focus almost exclusively on one thing—Jeffersonian democracy;—that is, the belief that direct or semi-direct democracy is best for America, best for Europe, and best for a high-tech, highly interconnected world. (1)

Yes, this is good strategy. Posturing yourself shoulder to shoulder with Thomas Jefferson appeals to a freeman’s common sense desire for the best of two worlds; that is, progression, tempered with time-tested values.

The problem is the Third Way really has no respect for time-tested values; for its dogma embraces the idea that each new wave of civilization necessarily must crush the values of the previous civilization. Values are relative. Beyond that, the greater hoax is that there really is no such thing as Jeffersonian democracy, not on the governmental level anyway.

Like most of the key Founders, Jefferson rejected pure democracy as a dangerous form (a form workable in small communities only, if workable at all). Instead, he believed in the republican form of government, championing fixed laws and morals as the backbone of a free society;—and as he matured, he came to throw out his earlier notion that the American experiment could and should be repeated in Europe, that is, among a people who lacked the educational and moral fiber to successfully self govern.

A quick glance back to Jefferson’s own words and deeds provides sufficient proof of this.

The so-called Founder of the Democratic Party Believed in a Republican Form of Government

During the Constitutional era, Thomas Jefferson, like many of his fellow founders, was dissatisfied, and often embarrassed with the rash, crisis-imposed solution for union the American colonists had fashioned under the Articles of Confederation.

As extreme on one end was the arbitrary power of the crown to “bind the colonies in all cases whatsoever” (2) during the 1760s and 1770s, this had only been matched on the other end by the much too democratic, in truth, much too anarchist U.S. government under the Articles of Confederation in the 1770s and 1780s.

Jefferson wrote: “We are now vibrating between too much and too little government.” (3) On the one hand, due to a lack of executive power — or the power to enforce federal law upon the states, especially the payment of taxes to support the war and to make payments on foreign loans –America could not pay her debts (only New York paid her fare share of debts owed); a dilemma which disgraced America abroad, weakened the bargaining power of her ambassadors (Jefferson included), led to unfair and unjust treatment in trade agreements, and later made it all the easier for nations to justify committing acts of piracy and other crimes against us with impunity (e.g., the impounding of sailors by the British, the capturing imprisonment of crew and vessel, even by our allies the French, and the refusal of the British to pull their forts out of our Western Frontier, and to honor other points as promised in their peace treaty with us); on the too much government end of the spectrum, there were serious movements and attempts to install a king before and immediately after the winning of the War for Independence (a predictable result of such anarchy — for instance, the soldiers were owed money that the states refused to cough up and so they marched on Congress); and beyond these, others (within and without) considered and enacted measures intended to embarrass, disarm, divide and conquer America—all for her inability to grow up and be a united nation of laws, enforceable laws.

Hamilton summed it up well when he called this too little government mess a scene of “national disorder, poverty, and insignificance,” which, ironically befell “a community so peculiarly blessed with natural advantages.” (4)

Washington forecast to Madison: “No day was ever more clouded than the present . . . We are fast verging to anarchy and confusion.” (5)

Washington had grounds for such a gloomy assessment.

Not only had he been the victim of a democracy of states so perverse in its notion of liberty that individuals and state governments were free to refuse sending troops, ammunition, clothing, foodstuffs, and other supplies to their brethren, even as they froze, starved, and died in defense of those supposed rights (Note: Ellsworth described this freedom of one state to bully or ignore the will of the majority as minority rule or monarchy (6) (7)). Four years after a miraculous victory, despite this extreme democratic do-your-own-thing model, Washington anxiously watched as democracy gave play to runaway inflation (the federal Congress lacking power to tax, printed unbacked paper money to pay its bills), rampant bankruptcies, moral decay, lawlessness, riots and bloody rebellions, threats of mass executions by former patriots, threats of secessions, threats that new states would hook up with Spain or France instead of the U.S., and of course, international disrepute. (8)

The situation had reached the “last stage of national humiliation,” (9) wrote Hamilton. The nation even lacked the resolve to freely navigate its own rivers, and to boot out of its territories a collection of foreign standing armies who stood by waiting for their prey to collapse from within. (10)

Washington knew what would shortly appear had we failed to back away from this all too democratic approach. He warned: “There is a natural and necessary progression from the extreme of anarchy to the extreme of tyranny.” (11)

Little surprise, then, that in short order the disorder of democracy set the stage for financial and military interests to combine in a scheme to anoint Washington as King George I of America so that “order, confidence and credit” might be restored.

The character of Washington saved the day, and he put forth a better proposal. He petitioned the state governments to meet in convention so that a republic, featuring the mixture of “a liberal and energetic constitution, well guarded and closely watched to prevent encroachments, might restore us.” (12)

Which is precisely what emerged to save the day. Jefferson happy about the outcome stated: “The pendulum will rest finally in the middle.” (13)

What Jefferson meant by “the middle” was that the new United States rejected pure monarchy, pure oligarchy and pure democracy – for all three were known to produce tyranny (and some believed, in the case of pure democracy, the worst of tyrannies) – and instead chose to mix the best elements of each, while placing checks upon the worst of them.

The central hope of those checks was, for a long time, to prevent the legislative, judicial, and executive powers from combining under the leadership of the one, the few, or the many (the very definition of tyranny).

The founders mixed republic included:

  • Separation of powers
  • Checks and balances
  • A government both national and federal in character * Mixed modes of representation
  • Mixed duration of time in office (short, long, and permanent)
  • Staggered elections (for stability and continuity)
  • Rejection of legislative term limits (check on executive power)
  • The rule of law (that is fixed laws which apply equally to all -a check on privileged class and office)
  • Limited and defined powers (check on federal power)
  • Unalienable rights (check on all law and power)
  • Public virtue (defender of rights, promoted via freedom of religion)
  • An arduous amendment process (check on pure democracy)
  • Common-law jury (a people’s check against unjust law)
  • An armed citizenry (a final check on tyranny)
  • Free trade between the states, taxed trade abroad (not a perfect tax, but far preferred to direct forms of taxation like the income tax — which the Constitution forbade)
  • A mandate that every state government be republican.

This then was the solution to the abject failure of democracy, a constitutional republic – and while Third Way Pure Democracy lovers Gingrich and Toffler denounce this Republican form as “increasingly obsolete . . . oppressive and dangerous to our welfare”; (14) Thomas Jefferson, the man they say they represent to the world, dubbed this new republican form “unquestionably the wisest ever yet presented to men.” (15)

Jefferson’s Republican Beliefs

A good place to unveil Jefferson’s allegiance to republicanism rather than to democracy is to review a few of the principles young Jefferson incorporated into the Declaration of Independence in 1776 (a document that never once mentioned the word democracy), examine a number of his statements concerning our republican Constitution of 1787 (which also was void of the word democracy), and throw in a number of comments of the men who rubbed shoulders with Jefferson, men who opposed pure democracy just as much as Jefferson did.

Jefferson Believed in the Precedence of a Higher Law

Pure democracies create rights and give governments power to give or take away civil and personal rights according to majority vote – plain and simple. On that point, we often forget, it was not the king of England, only, but the king’s elected Parliament, that deprived the colonists of their rights.

Jefferson wrote in the original draft of the Declaration of Independence: “They (the English) have by their free election, reestablished [the disturbers of our harmony] in power.” (16) Indeed, the British commons (the freely elected branch) could have exercised their check, at a key moment, against a measure which pushed the colonists to complete unity and war against their mother country. But, we read in Bancroft’s “History of the United States”: “The bill passed the commons by a vote of more than four to one.” The reason? “The British government inflamed the passions of the English people against America.”(17)

Jefferson rejected a repeat of that tyranny of the majority possibility with this Declaration:

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 [especially Religious Liberty], and the Pursuit of Happiness [Private Property]. (19)

The English Magna Charta granted these same rights, but it was a government grant, which in theory and practice meant the government (elected or not) could void the same. The English government did just that, and the colonists, our forefathers, were the victims.

Jefferson, therefore, appealed to a higher law, pronouncing the biblical conviction that these rights are the pre-existent gifts of God to all his children; rights that no king, no House of Lords, no House of Commons can abridge, eradicate, or claim to create. This is a Republican principle.

Jefferson Believed These Higher Laws Should Be Fixed, First, and Foremost

Jefferson felt so strongly about the priority of God’s law over man’s law that he prearranged to have “The Author of Religious Liberty” placed on his tombstone.

Few shouted louder than Jefferson in favor of adding a Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution – and it was not an anomaly that first on that list of rights, with the strongest protection of all was – “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” (19) – for it was Jefferson, in his letter of praise to James Madison about the new Constitution, who wrote:

I will now add what I do not like. First the omission of a bill of rights providing clearly & without the aid of sophisms for freedom of religion . . .  (20)

Jefferson put religion first, for he like the man he once admired, Thomas Paine’s, believed that the “King Of America, reigns Above” – that “the Divine Law” was the law of free governments (21) – and with James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, that “religion . . . [is] the basis and foundation of government.” (22)

Jefferson called these higher laws “the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God;”(23) (that is, echoing Locke, discoverable through reason and confirmed by revelation) and while men could strategically fine tune the administrative application of these great general laws, yet the underlying precepts remain fixed and foremost; and free and independent men and nations should forever cling to them.

This idea was not new. Jefferson found this fierce loyalty to higher law in the writings of Israel’s Moses, Rome’s Cicero, and in the traditions of England’s Anglo-Saxons.

From Cicero, the great defender of the Roman Republic, he learned:

True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands, and averts from wrong doing by its prohibitions . . . It is a sin to try to alter this law, nor is it allowable to repeal any part of it, and it is impossible to abolish it entirely. We cannot be freed from its obligations by senate or people. And there will not be different laws . . . now or in the future, but one eternal and unchangeable law will be valid for all nations and all times, and there will be one master and ruler, that is God, over us all, for he is the author of this law, its promulgator, and its enforcing judge. (24)

Jefferson echoed: “Bear in mind this sacred principle . . . the will of the majority . . . to be rightful must be reasonable; . . . to violate [this principle] would be oppression.” Reason, he argued, confirmed that rights came from God and could not be abridged by decree, verdict, or majority vote. (25)

This was the common feeling of the era. Theft, for example, under natural law is always theft. In 1773, Daniel Leonard, a prominent Massachusetts lawyer wrote:

All demands upon our purse, on [any term but consent], are illegal; and put into execution, robbery; if the demand be made sword in hand [by government tax collectors], the crime is still more atrocious; it is robbery with murderous intention! (26)

Jefferson explained, when a government “under the pretense of taking care of us” (27) contradicts this or any natural law, it is wrong and will never produce happiness.

Jefferson knew that governments and ambitious men will often dream up ways of convincing the electorate that times have changed, that expediency is superior to principle, and that exceptions to the rule should become the standard rule, thus producing a constant revolution of the law.

He was not for this. “Prudence . . . will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes;” he believed. (28)

He also wrote to Madison: “The instability of our laws is really an immense evil.” (29)

To insure change would not occur by every light and transient cause (which is what happens in democracies), Jefferson spoke of the necessity of “limited constitutions” with “fixed limits to which and no farther our trust (in elected officials) can go,” “to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust.” (30)

He wanted another check too: “that there shall always be a twelve-month [waiting period] between the engrossing a bill & passing it; that is should then be offered to its passage without changing a word.” (31)

No fast track, no last minute tricks in committee, no Third Way Republican-sponsored line-item veto that passes into law in the interest of speed laws by kingly prerogative which differ from those debated in Congress.

Fixed general laws, and labored debate for all changes in the law, whether great or small, was Jefferson’s republican belief.

To his credit, as president, even when periodic exceptions were precipitated by what he considered emergencies, i.e. piracy at sea, holy alliance plotting to force a weak United States into an alliance with Great Britain (which led to the Louisiana Purchase), President Jefferson “threw himself before” Congress, acknowledged the act as a deviation — not a future precedent — and put it back upon them (the people through their representatives) where it belonged for their debate and consent, or if need be, their reproof. This way the law remained supreme and an exception remained an exception, at best. (32)

Null and Void

To claim that Jefferson’s had a belief in majority rule, and nothing else, just has no foundation in fact. Jefferson reasoned Cicero-like, in the Kentucky Resolution of 1798, which he secretly penned: “[All federal laws] which create, define, or punish crimes other than those enumerated in the Constitution . . . are altogether void and of no force.” (33)

Thus, “The Act of Congress [our democratically elected representatives passed by majority vote] entitled ‘An Act in Addition to the Act for the Punishment of Certain Crimes Against the United States’ which does abridge the freedom of the press, is not law, but is altogether void and of no effect.” (34)

Again, this appeal, not to democracy being the voice of God, but to the voice of God being a check upon democracy. In his letter to James Madison, dated March 15, 1789, he warned, “the tyranny of the legislatures is the most formidable dread at the present, and will be for many years;” again, more rational, he said, for a Bill of Rights, or that fixed reference point to a higher law.

We really need to get beyond this pure democracy hogwash attached to Jefferson’s name.

The American Revolution Did Not Overthrow the Law, Rather It Returned to the Law and Improved Its Administration

Consistent with Jefferson’s reverence for the primacy of natural law and inalienable rights, it should be noted that the cause of separation which Jefferson argued for in his Declaration of Independence (after 16 years of legal appeals – another sign of reverence for the law) was not that America sought to disrespect and revolutionize the law (35), far from it, rather it was that America asserted her rights under the existing laws of Magna Charta and heaven.

It was England, not America which had turned its back on the law; had it not, a revolt would have been far less likely. The natural separation of ocean and culture, mixed with promises (once kept under the king’s charters) of self-government would have done their job nicely and peacefully.

The legitimacy, therefore, of the American Revolution, was that it was less a rebellion, and more a true revolution, that is, a return to established and eternal law on the one hand, and an evolutionary step forward, on the other, erecting upon the foundation of sound and fixed law a more glorious structure. So argued Edmund Burke.

Of this homecoming, Jefferson wrote in 1776:

Is it not better now that we return at once unto that happy system of our ancestors, the wisest and most perfect ever yet devised by the wit of man? (36)

(He was referring to the government and laws of the Anglo-Saxons, which Jefferson read in the original tongue.)

That was Jefferson.

But Third Wayer Toffler, unlike his “hero” Jefferson, both rejects fixed laws and the supposition that America re-embraced pre-existent law. He lambastes “traditional verities” as the “dreams . . . of Ozzie and Harriet,” of the “frenetic fringe,” of “the religion-based wing of the Republican Party,” and of “nostalgia pushers.” (37)

In his communist-based transformational Third Wave theory he describes the war and constitutional work of our founders as the product of men who “understood the concept of political obsolescence, (38)” men who were “compelled (the Marxian term most frequently used to deny the agency of man, and portray him as materialistically driven) . . . along by the tidal force of events”(CNC 89) to reject agricultural society, and set up a completely new political system – to sustain industrialism. Thus giving new life to Charles Beard’s pro-Marxist 1913 Founders Debunking Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States come to life again, asserting, as do all anti-capitalist works, that the founders were driven to revolution and the Constitution by the personal greed of a few economically elite land owners, rather than by an unselfish free-will offering which sacrificed property, comfort, convenience, and life, for higher principle. (39)

“Ex” Marxist Toffler and “Conservative futurist” Republican icon Newt Gingrich, like Marxist Beard, are entitled to their opinion, but it is a gross inaccuracy to contend that their principles — which beware, we may find in Gingrich’s promised Contract With America II in Sept. 2010 — are Jeffersonian. Indeed, even on the issue of the coming industrialism, it was Jefferson who famously argued in favor of preserving agriculturalism.

I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries; as long as they are chiefly agricultural . . . When they get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in Europe. (40)

Jefferson believed that it was on the farm, on the ranch and in small-town America where the moral values that temper and preserve liberty are found, while it was in industrial society, where such values were derided and true liberty was most easily destroyed by a love of luxury, indolence, amusement and pleasure, where liberty met its demise.

Jefferson sought to restore the roots of the law, and to secure its longevity, in the virtuous base of a religious and educated citizenry; and, the preservation of agricultural and small town life, was a key.

Toffler would uproot the law, curse at morality (41), let chaos reign, and call his moral and political anarchy Jeffersonian democracy. This he would do, and by so doing, he and his fellow socialists in drag would usurp every principle, every institution of stability, and every vestige of national strength, without a soul suspecting it, till every citizen reduced to the pursuit of the least common denominator (the pursuit of wealth – at any political cost) democratically raises his or her hand in favor of every schemer that promises to deliver just that. Till we vote ourselves a tyranny.

Read more from “Democrats In Drag: Foreword; Part 1, Technology, Sovereignty, and the Third Wave; Part 2, Clinton and Blair’s Center-Left Democracy ; Part 3, Gingrich, Toffler, and Gore: A Peculiar Trio; Part 4, Groveling in the Gutter of the Gulags; Part 5,  Eradicating the U.S. Constitution by Design; Part 6, Contract With America: The Betrayal Begins; Part 7, Using Jefferson as a Cloak for Revolution; Part 8, Term Limits and the Citizen-Legislature Scam.

Steve Far­rell is one of the orig­i­nal pun­dits at Sil­ver Eddy Award Win­ner, (1999–2008), the author of the highly praised inspi­ra­tional novel “Dark Rose,” and edi­tor in chief of The Moral Liberal.


1. Gingrich, Newt; Armey, Dick. “Contract With America.” United States: Times Books/Republican National Committee, 1994, pg. 192. See, also, Newt Gingrich’s forward to: Toffler, Alvin and Heidi, “Creating a New Civilization: The Politics of the Third Wave.” Atlanta: Turner Publishing, Inc.1995, p. 16.; also Toffler’s comments on pages 90, 96-99. Toffler, Alvin. “The Third Wave.” Toronto, New York, London: Bantam, 1981, pgs. 71, 417-419, 427-434.

2. Bancroft, George. “History of the United States.” Washington D.C., 1834, Volume 3, p. 196.”

3. Ford, Paul Leicester. “The Writing of Thomas Jefferson, 10 vols.” New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1892-99, 5:3. Hereafter cited as Ford.

4. Hamilton, “Federalist Papers” #15

5. Fitzpatrick, John C. ed., “The Writings of George Washington, 39 Volumes. Washington: United States Government Printing Office 1931-44, Volume 29, pgs. 51-52. Hereafter cited as Fitzpatrick.

6. Elliot, Jonathan, ed., “The Debates In the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, 5 Vols.” Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1901, Volume 2, p.197. Hereafter cited as Elliot. 7. Toffler, Alvin. “The Third Wave.” Toronto, New York, London: Bantam Books, 1981, pgs. 419-427

8. Skousen, Cleon. “The Making of America.” Washington D.C.: The National Center for Constitutional Studies, 1985 Chapter 5 (for a full account of how bad it really was).

9. Hamilton, Federalist Papers #15.

10. Elliot, Volume 4, pgs. 16-20

11. Fitzpatrick, Volume 26, p. 489

12. Ibid. Volume 29, pgs.51-52

13. Ford, Volume 5, pg 3

14. Toffler, Third Wave, p. 417.

15. Bergh, Albert Ellery, ed., “The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, 20 Volumes.” Washington: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1907, Volume 7, p. 322

16. “We The States: An Anthology of Historic Documents and Commentaries thereon, Expounding the State and Federal Relationship.” Richmond, Virginia: Virginia Commission on Constitutional Government, The William Byrd Press, Inc., 1964, p. 16. 17. Bancroft, Volume 3, p. 481.

18. Declaration of Independence. Note: That the pursuit of Happiness referred to acquiring and possessing Property, see the Virginia Bill of Rights, as but one example.

19. The Constitution of the United States, First Amendment.

20. We the States, p. 232.

21. Van der Weyde, William M. “The Life and Works of Thomas Paine: Patriots Edition, Volume II. New Rochelle, New York, Thomas Paine National Historical Association, 1925. p. 147.

22. Rudland, Robert, ed. “The Papers of James Madison Vol. VIII” Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973, pgs. 299, 304.

23. Declaration of Independence

24. Ebenstein, William. “Great Political Thinkers.” New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1963, p. 133.

25. Bergh, Volume 3, p. 318.

26. Hyneman, Charles S. and Lutz, Donald S. “American Political Writing during the Founding Era 1760 – 1805, Volume I. Indianapolis: Liberty Press, 1983, p. 211.

27. Bergh, Volume 10, p. 342.

28. Declaration of Independence.

29. We the States, p. 235.

30. Adler, Mortimer J., et al., eds. “The Annals of America. 20 Vols.” Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1968-, Volume 4, pgs. 65-66.

31. We the States, p. 235.

32. For numerous examples of Jefferson’s humility regarding stretches in the law, see Schlesinger, Arthur M. Jr. “The Imperial Presidency.” Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company 1973, 1989. And, especially, Wormurth, Francis D. & Firmage, Edwin B. “To Chain the Dog of War.” Urbana Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1986, 1989.

33. We the States, pgs. 143-146.

34. Ibid. 143-146.

35. Third Wave, 416.

36. Boyd, Julian P. ed., “The Paper of Thomas Jefferson, 20 Volumes.” Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1950-, Volume 1, pg 492.

37 Toffler, Alvin and Heidi (forwarded by Newt Gingrich). “Creating A New Civilization: The Politics of the Third Wave.” Atlanta: Turner Publishing, Inc. 1995, p. 77.

38. Ibid. p. 90.

39. Beard, Charles. “An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States.” New York: The Macmillian Company, 1913, p. 13.

40. We the States, p. 235 (Letter to James Madison, dated Dec. 20, 1787.). See also, Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense.”

41. The Third Wave, Chapter 17, Families of the Future.


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