“Oppressors can tyrannize only when they achieve a standing army, an enslaved press, and a disarmed populace.” -James Madison answering “When can Governments be Tyrannical?”
James Madison, like George Washington and the other Founding Fathers, was a political genius, like I wrote about in my post on James Madison on the real power of government. He understood exactly what allows governments to be tyrannical and what is necessary to stop that from happening. His role in writing the Constitution and then defending it in The Federalist Papers shows just how dedicated he was to the cause of freedom and preventing tyranny.
So, Madison was the perfect person to answer “when can governments be tyrannical?” And, in my opinion, he answered that important question perfectly. Each one of the points he brought up in answering it are wise and tie in with the modern-day.
Today, America certainly has a standing army. Trump has worked hard to bring that army home and end the interventionist era, but even he isn’t considering reducing the size of our standing army at all. No politician has done so since the Korean War, as recounted by Douglas MacArthur in Reminiscences. Liberalism, defended by America, decided it needed a large, standing army.
Unfortunately, that army could also be used to tyrannize. The role of the police and the National Guard in implementing gun laws is proof to that point. Virginia’s 2nd Amendment sanctuaries may need to defend themselves only because those organizations are willing to enforce tyrannical laws. The siege in Waco was a great example of that.
Additionally, the media is thoroughly enslaved to the Democratic Party, as described in Righteous Indignation by Andrew Breitbart. Rather than justly investigating all government oversteps, the media only attacks Republicans. Obama was given a free pass for everything despite being weak and presiding over a weak, heavily-regulated economy. Trump, on the other hand, is attacked for everything despite presiding over a booming economy and standing up for America world-wide.
George Washington understood why Americans need to own guns. So did Thomas Jefferson. And, it appears, so did James Madison. They knew the 2nd Amendment is important because it is what allows us to defend ourselves from tyranny. If it didn’t exist, the government would likely already be tyrannical, as is happening in Hong Kong.
So, when can governments be tyrannical? Only when the above conditions are met. When they are, tyranny is just around the corner.