Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Takeaways from Madison's Montpelier, Part II

This is the second post in a series about my experience at the Center to for the Constitution which is located on the grounds of President James Madison home. The first post in the series can be found here. I should remind you, these are my thoughts on the week, not necessarily those of the center. That said, here is part two of my takeaways:

Education is not about making students more like the teacher. Instead, it's about bring out what is already inside the student.

One way to win a debate is the control what is debated. James Madison was an expert in this. Not only did he write George Washington's inaugural address, he also wrote the House of Representatives' reply and then wrote Washington's reply to that.

Every revolutionary wants to be the last one you ever need. For that reason they are establishment oriented. In fact, they may even be the next opposition to the next revolution.

You should have the social freedom to not be passionate.

You should feel the personal freedom to not know if you're right.

Republics should not be concerned with what the majority want. Americans today don't understand this.

Believe it or not, it was generally accepted at the conference that George H. W. Bush was the most Constitutional president of recent history. Meaning that he allowed Congress to make law while he enforced it.

Politicians who run on an anti-government platform will probably not be able to effective use the position.

Maybe the most important question for a potential president: how do you interpret Article 2 of the Constitution? That is, what do you think your job is?

People who don't know their job, start to do other people's job, all the while neglecting theirs. This is true for presidents and principals.

One speaker stated that "the opposite of slavery is not freedom, it's citizenship". I haven't decided if I agree.

Constitutional citizenship has a very Old Testament covenant feel. Americans/Christians are people of the book.

Almost all Americans are mostly unfamiliar with what the Constitution says, even me.

Madison's original plan for the Constitution was much more like a parliamentary system.

We should not pledge allegiance to the flag. We should pledge allegiance to the Constitution. For me that is better, but I'm still uncomfortable. Is there anything worth pledging your allegiance to? God? Family? Community?

Government will always be bound by, and must work within, human nature. This is why I am weary about governmental action, it is very unnatural (in the biological sense of the word).

Patriotism is something I only vaguely understand. No matter what most people say, I think that is true of them as well.

Five out of the first six presidents were from Virginia, partially due to the 3/5ths Compromise.

To James Madison the Bill of Rights were not needed because the government was already limited from taking those specific rights. In fact, he worried that by listing them future generations would assume those were the only rights specifically protected.

The role of the government is to provide "comfortable preservation" for its people. Nothing else.

If I asked you where you were from what would you say? Most likely you'd name the state where you live. That's American states' rights culture at work.

Habits are simultaneously one of man's greatest weaknesses and strengths.

In a meeting, the most prepared get their way.

Frederick Douglass on education: "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free."


  1. I love the Frederick Douglass quote. Reading makes you free IF you know how to think critcally and evaluate what you are reading.

  2. But let's not forget the value fiction and its power to let us escape reality.

  3. ***APPLAUSE***

    Well-done! I took a lot less away from Montpelier than you did. I should have done more reading on James Madison. Sounds like the old goat was a master manipulator.

  4. I really liked all the short thoughts to ponder from these posts. My favorite one from this one was "Habits are simultaneously one of man's greatest weaknesses and strengths."


You are the reason why I do not write privately. I would love to hear your thoughts, whether you agree or not.