Thursday, April 28, 2022



Nothing New under the Sun


Article. VIII.

By Stephen L. Wilmeth


             Liberty once lost is lost forever. When the People once surrender their share in the Legislature, and their Right of defending the Limitations upon Government, and of resisting every Encroachment upon them, they can never regain it.

                                                                                           ~ John Adams

            The week was spent trying to gather all the Longtails.

            This has long been a continuing theme in the attempt to bring all the fence jumpers and counterfeit slackers back into the fold so order could be restored. Experience has time and again shown that the herd is populated by a mix of performers ranging from true blue diamonds to mere turds half floating in crystal punchbowls. The former ask for so little and give so much. The latter are incessantly discontent, hateful, and contrary to any expected performing guidelines. They also take far more than their share of the groceries (and everything else).

            So, here the drama increases trying to make conscientious decisions unto the fate of the herd. Will it flourish or will it fail? Will humanistic actions prevail in the short run, or will longer term decisions be made that benefit the outfit forever?

            The answer probably depends on whether herd the poled, horned, or … American citizenry.

            Nothing New under the Sun

            There is a continuing theme being expressed by our colleagues and comrades-in-harness.

            The gist of it is the fact that the obstacles we face are not new. The explanation of this can be charted through a series of quotes not necessarily in order of time, but in order of rationale.

            (A republic) requires a virtuous people … and the world has not yet reached the proper standard of morality and integrity to live under the rule of religion and reason.

            Not disclosing when that was written the point can be made that, overall, ours in not a nation inhabited by a virtuous people. The next quote could actually be presented on the basis of a multiple-choice question. The choices could be various, but West, South, ranchers, loggers, miners, and waitresses can suffice.

            All the ______ has (have) ever desired was that the Union, as established by our forefathers should be preserved, and the government as originally organized should be administered in purity and truth.

            Many Founders including Franklin feared that any form of government would eventually corrupt those in charge and tyranny would return. Strategies were debated as to what would preclude such an eventuality and many of them thought the genius in their founding, and, in particular, it was the maintenance of the rights and authority reserved to the states and to the people that would prevail.

            But, then, just like now the conservatives are (were) too weak to resist successfully the radicals who have everything their way. The greatest fear was leaders would eventually aim at creating one vast Government , sure to become aggressive abroad and despotic at home and the greatest danger would become the subversion of the old form of government and the substitution in its place of a great consolidated central power, which wielded by the will of the majority party, will soon disregard every constitutional check, trample upon the reserved rights of the states and in time annihilate the Constitution.

            Most will agree those quotes could well be from nearly every epoch of our American history. It might have been written 100 years ago or just today, but it should be no surprise that the foregoing quotes were all from the writings of … Robert E. Lee.

            Article. VIII.

            General Lee exists largely in our memory and education as that leader of the southern states in the great rebellion of the mid-19th Century. Most of us can agree that we are totally unfamiliar with him on any direct basis. Never were we exposed to narrative or writings that allowed him to communicate directly with us. What little we learned was only in third person with emphasis on an image rather than suggestions he was a human just like the rest of us.

            Should it surprise anybody that his writings present a completely different persona?

            He didn’t want the war. He grieved that the union would be divided and yet he grieved more that his home, Virginia, would be violated by turmoil and conflict. He served in defense of that home, that heritage, and the belief the Constitution elevated his state into a priority position to make decisions that were best for he and his family.

            There is an interesting parallel with our western heritage. Too often it is has become the storyline. When issues arise that threaten our existence, the first inclination is to push back, but explanations and defense are somehow inadequate and disappointing in the face of agency and central power. Seldom is there an outcome that resembles victory.

            In the post war years, Lee sought to avoid expressing his views of politics and the war. When pressed he would suggest the outcome of the conflict settled the question of the southern view of states’ rights. It wasn’t done constitutionally. It was done with brute force, destruction, and conditional defeat. What he didn’t say and what should be recognized was the federal government didn’t need laws or constitutional amendments to settle the real matter of the primacy of states’ rights. The consolidated central power hub of Washington could get it done by exerting absolute authority up to and including war and total destruction to force its will.

            In other words, there might as well be an Article. VIII. that addresses last ditch consequences, a default trigger, for dealing with states trying to impose the ultimate right to divorce themselves from the union and the destruction of the Constitution while holding Article. VIII. inviolate.

            Many would say that is the circumstance we find ourselves today.


            Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Article. VIII. would have been a tough pill to swallow in getting the Constitution ratified. Its silence was necessary”.