Where he stands: Joe Biden

One in a series profiling Democratic presidential candidates – in their own words:

 

https://joebiden.com/joes-vision/

 

The middle class isn’t a number — it’s a set of values. Owning your home. Sending your kids to college. Being able to save and get ahead. Across the country, too many families are being left behind. The next president needs to understand what the current one doesn’t: In America, no matter where you start in life, there should be no limit to what you can achieve.

We need to rebuild the middle class, and this time make sure everybody comes along — regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.

Immigration

In the first 100 days, a Biden Administration will:

  • Immediately reverse the Trump Administration’s … policies that separate parents from their childrenat our border. …
  • End Trump’s … asylum policies. 
  • End the mismanagement of the asylum system, which fuels violence and chaos at the border.Trump’s … policy of “metering” — limiting the number of asylum applications accepted each day — forces people seeking asylum to wait on the streets in often dangerous Mexican border towns for weeks before they are permitted to apply. … Biden will … ensure asylum applications are processed fairly and efficiently, while treating families and children with compassion and sensitivity.
  • Surge humanitarian resources to the border and foster public-private initiatives. …
  • End prolonged detention and reinvest in a case management program. …
  • Reverse Trump’s public charge rule. … Allowing immigration officials to make an individual’s ability to receive a visa or gain permanent residency contingent on their use of government services such as SNAP benefits or Medicaid, their household income, and other discriminatory criteria undermines America’s character as land of opportunity that is open and welcoming to all, not just the wealthy.
  • End the so-called National Emergency that siphons federal dollars from the Department of Defense to build a wall. …
  • Protect Dreamers and their families. 
  • Rescind the un-American travel and refugee bans, also referred to as “Muslim bans.” … Prohibiting Muslims from entering the country is morally wrong, and there is no intelligence or evidence that suggests it makes our nation more secure. …
  • Order an immediate review of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for vulnerable populations who cannot find safety in their countries ripped apart by violence or disaster.
  • Ensure that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel abide by professional standards and are held accountable for inhumane treatment. 
  • Protect and expand opportunities for people who risked their lives in military service. 
  • Restore and defend the naturalization process for green card holders. … Biden will … remove roadblocks to naturalization and obtaining the right to vote, addressing the application backlog by prioritizing the adjudication workstream and ensuring applications are processed quickly, and rejecting the imposition of unreasonable fees.
  • Revitalize the Task Force on New Americans by… promoting immigrant entrepreneurship, increasing access to language instruction, and promoting civil engagement.
  • Convene a regional meeting of leaders, including from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Canada, to address the factors driving migration and to propose a regional resettlement solution. Migration out of the Northern Triangle has impacted more countries than just the U.S. Belize, Costa Rica, Mexico, and others have also seen growing numbers fleeing violence and a lack of opportunity. A regional problem requires a regional solution, so Biden will immediately convene regional partners to institute a comprehensive, multi-national plan to address the challenges.

Biden will work with Congress to pass legislation that:

  • Creates a roadmap to citizenship for the nearly 11 million people … who register, are up-to-date on their taxes, and have passed a background check. …
  • Reforms the temporary visa system. 
  • Provides a path to legalization for agricultural workers who have worked for years on U.S. farms and continue to work in agriculture. 
  • Preserves preferences for diversity in the current system. … The Diversity Visa lottery … brings up to 50,000 immigrants from underrepresented countries to the U.S. each year.
  • Increases the number of visas offered for permanent, work-based immigration based on macroeconomic conditions. Currently, the number of employment-based visas is capped at 140,000 each year, without the ability to be responsive to the state of the labor market or demands from domestic employers. As president, Biden will work with Congress to increase the number of visas awarded for permanent, employment-based immigration — and promote mechanisms to temporarily reduce the number of visas during times of high U.S. unemployment. He will also exempt from any cap recent graduates of PhD programs in STEM fields in the U.S. …
  • Creates a new visa category to allow cities and counties to petition for higher levels of immigrants to support their growth. 
  • Enforces the rules to protect American and foreign workers alike. The U.S. immigration system must guard against economy-wide wage cuts due to exploitation of foreign workers by unscrupulous employers who undercut the system by hiring immigrant workers below the market rate or go outside the immigration system to find workers. Biden will work with Congress to ensure that employers are not taking advantage of immigrant workers and that U.S. citizen workers are not being undercut by employers who don’t play by the rules. …

Violence against women

Biden wrote the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, established the first White House Advisor on Violence Against Women during the Obama-Biden Administration, and launched a national campaign to change the culture surrounding campus rape and sexual assault.

As President, Biden will: …

  • Expand the safety net for survivors
  • Empower and protect young people
  • Confront online harassment, abuse and stalking
  • Ensure justice for survivors
  • End the rape kit backlog
  • Address the deadly combination of guns and domestic violence
  • Change the culture that enables sexual violence
  • Support the diverse needs of survivors of violence against women
  • Protect and empower immigrant women, and
  • Lead the global effort to end gender-based violence

Veterans programs

… a Biden Administration will:

  • Rebuild trust in the Department of Veterans Affairs. …
  • Conduct a thorough assessment of the staffing needs and requirements across the VA to inform specific hiring initiatives and programs for attracting and retaining medical professionals. This includes ensuring that professionals are working to the full scope of their license and creating incentives to support health care professionals joining the VA workforce.
  • Refine and update Community Care Guidelines, ensuring that if a veteran is referred to a community care provider that does not meet the same level of access and quality as the VA,  the veteran will be referred back to the VA. …
  • Establish cultural competency training protocols to ensure that providers in VA facilities and in community care settings understand and are equipped to support the needs of LGBTQ veterans in the health care setting.
  • Work with Congress to improve health services for women veterans. Biden will ensure that each VA Medical Center has at least one full-time women’s primary care physician; and, within 200 days of taking office, make available a women veterans training module for community health care providers. …
  • Provide funding to ensure there is safe, reliable child care at all VA Medical Centers.
  • Work with Congress to eliminate co-pays for preventive health care for veterans …
  • Expand the list of presumptive conditions to ensure no veteran who experienced a TBI or had exposure to burn pits or other environmental toxins goes without access to VA health care and benefits. …
  • Ensure that disabled veterans that require a prosthesis are able to access the most modern prosthetics technology available, and that they are able to upgrade their equipment at no cost as new developments occur.
  • Expand funding for direct and purchase-care treatment for disorders related to the misuse of alcohol and opioids in order to reduce … long wait-times for treatment.
  • A Biden Administration will support the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes and reschedule cannabis as a schedule II drug so researchers can study its positive and negative impacts. …
  • Increase funding for and expand access to telehealth through the VA, particularly in rural areas not able to access timely care.
  • Modernize VA hospitals and clinics to serve our veterans better through a nationwide infrastructure plan that provides a comprehensive refresh of VA health facilities. …
  • Create safe, modern, clean, and recovery-oriented housing for veterans being treated for SUDs and those who are homeless by refurbishing buildings condemned or not in use, such as the massive VA Los Angeles campus.

Education

A Biden Administration will:

  • Provide two years of community college or other high-quality training program without debt for any hard-working individual looking to learn and improve their skills to keep up with the changing nature of work. 
  • Create a new grant program to assist community colleges in improving their students’ success.… Reforms could include academic and career advising services; dual enrollment; credit articulation agreements; investing in wages, benefits, and professional development to recruit and retain faculty, including teacher residencies; and improvements to remediation programs. The Biden plan will also help community colleges around the country scale successful programs to help a larger number of students.
  • Tackle barriers that prevent students from completing their community college degree or training credential. There are too many Americans who don’t complete their education or training programs not because of a lack of will, but because of other responsibilities they are juggling, such as a job to pay their bills or caring for children. Often these students and their families also face housing and food insecurity. The Biden Administration’s community college initiative will be a first-dollar program, meaning that students will be able to use their Pell grants, state aid, and other aid to help them cover expenses beyond tuition and fees. In addition, the Biden plan will give states financial incentives to foster collaboration between community colleges and community-based organizations to provide wraparound support services for students, especially veterans, single parents, low-income students, students of color, and students with disabilities who may face unique challenges. …
  • Make a $50 billion investment in workforce training, including community-college business partnerships and apprenticeships. 
  • Invest in community college facilities and technology.Biden will invest $8 billion to help community colleges improve the health and safety of their facilities, and equip their schools with new technology. …
  • Double the maximum value of Pell grants, significantly increasing the number of middle-class Americans who can participate in the program. Pell grants help 7 million students a year afford college, but they have not kept up with the rising cost of college. …
  • More than halve payments on undergraduate federal student loans by simplifying and increasing the generosity of today’s income-based repayment program. Under the Biden plan, individuals making $25,000 or less per year will not owe any payments on their undergraduate federal student loans and also won’t accrue any interest on those loans. Everyone else will pay 5% of their discretionary income (income minus taxes and essential spending like housing and food) over $25,000 toward their loans. This plan will save millions of Americans thousands of dollars a year. After 20 years, the remainder of the loans for people who have responsibly made payments through the program will be 100% forgiven. Individuals with new and existing loans will all be automatically enrolled in the income-based repayment program, with the opportunity to opt out if they wish. …
  • Make loan forgiveness work for public servants. … Biden will create a … program which offers $10,000 of undergraduate or graduate student debt relief for every year of national or community service, up to five years. Individuals working in schools, government, and other non-profit settings will be automatically enrolled in this forgiveness program; up to five years of prior national or community service will also qualify. …
  • Create a “Title I for post-secondary education” to help students at under-resourced four-year schools complete their degrees. The Biden Administration will establish a new grant program to support under-resourced four-year schools that serve large numbers of Pell-eligible students. The funds will be used to foster collaboration between colleges and community-based organizations to provide wraparound support services for students, especially veterans, single parents, low-income students, students of color, and students with disabilities who may face unique challenges. …
  • Prioritize the use of work-study funds for job-related and public service roles. Biden will work to reform federal work study programs to ensure that more of these funds place students in roles where they are either learning skills valuable for their intended careers, or contributing to their communities by mentoring students in K-12 classrooms and community centers. …
  • Crack down on private lenders profiteering off of students and allow individuals holding private loans to discharge them in bankruptcy. In 2015, the Obama-Biden Administration called for Congress to pass a law permitting the discharge of private student loans in bankruptcy. As president, Biden will enact this legislation. …
  • Support and protect post-9/11 GI benefits for veterans and qualified family members. …

Gun violence

As president, Biden will:

  • Ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. …
  • Regulate possession of existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act.
  • Buy back the assault weapons and high-capacity magazines already in our communities.
  • Reduce stockpiling of weapons. … Biden supports legislation restricting the number of firearms an individual may purchase per month to one. …
  • Require background checks for all gun sales.
  • Reinstate the Obama-Biden policy to keep guns out of the hands of certain people unable to manage their affairs for mental reasons …
  • Close the “hate crime loophole.” Biden will enact legislation prohibiting an individual “who has been convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime, or received an enhanced sentence for a misdemeanor because of hate or bias in its commission” from purchasing or possessing a firearm.
  • Close the “Charleston loophole.” The Charleston loophole allows people to complete a firearms purchase if their background check is not completed within three business days. Biden supports the proposal in the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019, which extends the timeline from three to 10 business days. …
  • End the online sale of firearms and ammunitions. 
  • Create an effective program to ensure individuals who become prohibited from possessing firearms relinquish their weapons. 
  • Incentivize state “extreme risk” laws, also called “red flag” laws, which enable family members or law enforcement officials to temporarily remove an individual’s access to firearms when that individual is in crisis and poses a danger to themselves or others. Biden will incentivize the adoption of these laws by giving states funds to implement them. And, he’ll direct the U.S. Department of Justice to issue best practices and offer technical assistance to states interested in enacting an extreme risk law.
  • Give states incentives to set up gun licensing programs. …
  • Adequately fund the background check system.

Health care

As president, Biden will:

  • Give Americans … a public health insurance option like Medicare.
  • Increase the value of tax credits to lower premiums and extend coverage to more working Americans.
  • Expand coverage to low-income Americans.
  • Offer middle class families a premium tax credit to help them pay for coverage. For example, take a family of four with an income of $110,000 per year. If they currently get insurance on the individual marketplace, because their premium will now be capped at 8.5% of their income, under the Biden Plan they will save an estimated $750 per month on insurance alone. That’s cutting their premiums almost in half. If a family is covered by their employer but can get a better deal with the 8.5% premium cap, they can switch to a plan on the individual marketplace, too.
  • Stop “surprise billing.” This could occur, for example, if you go to an in-network hospital but don’t realize a specialist at that hospital is not part of your health plan. The Biden Plan will bar health care providers from charging patients out-of-network rates when the patient doesn’t have control over which provider the patient sees (for example, during a hospitalization). …
  • Repeal the … exception allowing drug corporations to avoid negotiating with Medicare over drug prices.
  • Limit launch prices for drugs that face no competition and are being abusively priced by manufacturers.
  • Limit price increases for all brand, biotech, and abusively priced generic drugs to the inflation rate.
  • Allow consumers to buy prescription drugs from other countries.
  • Terminate pharmaceutical corporations’ tax break for advertisement spending.
  • Improve the supply of quality generics.
  • Expand access to contraception and protect the constitutional right to an abortion.
  • Restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
  • Defend health care protections for all, regardless of gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
  • Double America’s investment in community health centers, which provide primary, prenatal, and other care to underserved populations.
  • Expand access to mental health care.

Agriculture

Biden will strengthen our agricultural sector by:

  • Pursuing a trade policy that works for American farmers. …
  • Support beginning farmers.  … The Biden Administration will expand the Obama-Biden Administration’s micro-loan program for new and beginning farmers, doubling the maximum loan amount to $100,000. And it will increase funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s farm ownership and operating loans that typically serve beginning farmers who grew up on a family farm but need low-cost capital to add to their family’s operation to support another household.
  • Foster the development of regional food systems.
  • Re-invest in land grant universities’ agricultural research so the public, not private companies, owns patents to agricultural advances.
  • Partner with farmers to make American agriculture first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions, giving farmers new sources of income in the process.
  • Strengthen antitrust enforcement. From the inputs they depend on – such as seeds – to the markets where they sell their products, American farmers and ranchers are being hurt by increasing market concentration. The Biden Administration will protect small and medium-sized farmers and producers by strengthening enforcement of the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust Acts and the Packers and Stockyards Act.
  • Expand bio-based manufacturing to bring cutting-edge manufacturing jobs back to rural America. The Biden Administration will create a low-carbon manufacturing sector in every state in the country, but not just in cities. …
  • Promote ethanol and the next generation of biofuels.
  • Invest in wind and solar energy.
  • Invest $20 billion in rural broadband infrastructure, and triple funding to expand broadband access in rural areas. 
  • Invest in green infrastructure nationwide.
  • Expand access to credit for new and small businesses. … The Biden Administration will dramatically expand funding for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program to help rural entrepreneurs. Biden will expand the number of Rural Business Investment Companies to help rural companies obtain capital.

The pendulum swings, a little left and a little right, returning to the center each time

One in a series on Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow. So far, we have discussed these topics:

  • central government vs. states’ rights:

https://billcornishwordpresscom.wordpress.com/2017/07/18/hamilton-early-lessons-still-apply/

  • religion:

https://billcornishwordpresscom.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/hamilton-on-religion-belief-in-god-as-moral-authority/

  • politics:

https://billcornishwordpresscom.wordpress.com/2017/07/31/politics-continuing-what-hamilton-and-his-peers-started/

  • slavery, the judiciary:

https://billcornishwordpresscom.wordpress.com/2017/08/14/slavery-and-the-judiciary-hamiltons-far-reaching-views/

Populism

The 1800 elections revealed, for the first time, the powerful centrist pull of American politics – the electorate’s tendency to rein in anything perceived as extreme. (p. 626)

 

In that 1800 election, the first Republican, Thomas Jefferson, was elected president after George Washington and John Adams as members of the Federalist party had set the early course for the new United States. In the House of Representatives, the Republicans took 65 seats to 41 for the Federalists.

“The people had registered their dismay with a long litany of unpopular Federalist actions: the Jay Treaty, the Alien and Sedition Acts, the truculent policy toward France, the vast army being formed under Hamilton and the taxes levied to support it.” (p. 626)

Isn’t this what happened a year ago as well?

  • A large number of the electorate believed that social policies had swung too far left, thanks in large part to U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
  • The Congressional stalemate over budget, economic and social issues convinced large segments of the public that Republicans and Democrats were incapable of making decisions and therefore leading the country.
  • Donald Trump, as a political outsider, offered a contrasting alternative.

While his tweets and staff firings and resignations have signaled disorganization in his administration, his strong support of the military and more conservative social agenda have connected with many. Is Trump pulling us too far in that direction? Upcoming elections will tell.

Trump’s presidency proves that we can’t go too far left, or too far right, as a nation and get away with it. The pendulum eventually returns to center, or close to it.

 

… Jefferson proved a more moderate president than either he or Hamilton cared to admit. The Virginian no longer had the luxury of being in opposition and could not denounce every assertion of executive power as a rank betrayal of the Revolution. (p. 646)

 

I wonder if Trump eventually will understand this principle. It’s easy to point fingers when you’re not in charge, as Republicans did for the previous eight years and as Democrats are doing now. It’s harder to do that when controversial decisions land on your desk. We’ll see how many of Trump’s policies moderate as his presidency develops.

 

(Hamilton) saw the chaos in France as a frightening portent of what could happen in America if the safeguards of order were stripped away by the love of liberty. (p. 434)

hamilton mug

The French Revolution in the 1790s divided the political parties in this country. Hamilton’s Federalist party denounced the Revolution as violent and deadly, while Jefferson’s Republicans supported the opposition in France, even if it was violent, because they felt that French leaders were oppressive.

Hamilton could not turn a blind eye to the bloodthirsty nature of the French Revolution, which included the guillotine death of Louis XVI, a supporter of the American Revolution. Republicans said that if he was an “enemy of human nature,” then his death was justified. (p. 433)

“For Hamilton, the utopian revolutionaries in France had emphasized liberty to the exclusion of order, morality, religion and property rights.” (p. 434)

I see this happening in our country today. Statues of long-ago Confederate leaders are being smashed or removed. Perhaps they should be, because the Confederates supported slavery. We fought a Civil War over that issue. We don’t need to fight it again.

Do we?

 

Revenge had always frightened (Hamilton), and class envy and mob violence had long been his bugaboos. (p. 195)

 

And yet …

 

“I hold that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing,” he told (James) Madison loftily from Paris, “and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.” … the more hopeful and complacent Jefferson thought that periodic excesses would correct themselves. (p. 225)

 

Jefferson and Hamilton, then, while political opponents who did not get along with each other, seemed more alike than either was willing to admit. Neither supported “periodic excesses.” They trusted the pendulum swing to keep the young nation on track. As we should today.

Journalism

Hamilton wrote volumes upon volumes of letters, treatises and pamphlets, often writing late into the night after hectic days running his family, his law practice and/or the country as treasury secretary. Indeed, sometimes he couldn’t stop himself. He incriminated himself and others with several of his pamphlets that made his supporters – and his wife, certainly – cringe. He felt he had to defend his personal honor at all costs.

 

To understand Hamilton’s productivity, it is important to note that virtually all of his important work was journalism, prompted by topical issues and written in the midst of controversy. He never wrote as a solitary philosopher for the ages. … he plumbed the timeless principles behind contemporary events. (p. 250)

 

Even though he never visited Europe, Hamilton researched the continent extensively, learning everything he could about its economies, politics, judiciaries, governments, social structures, taxes, trade policies, and so many other issues. As he wrote The Federalist Papers and numerous other documents, he culled his research to seek the best of Europe for us, documenting his research thoroughly.

Hamilton wrote many newspaper articles, most of them anonymously because that’s the way it was done back then, defending his viewpoints and criticizing his opponents.

Late in his life, Hamilton defended a Federalist newspaper editor charged with libel by President Jefferson. “The standard had been that plaintiffs in libel cases needed to prove only that statements made against them were defamatory, not that they were false.” (p. 668)

In a six-hour speech in February 1804 before the New York Supreme Court, Hamilton defended a free press. Only a free press could check abuses of executive power, Hamilton asserted.

 

By spotlighting the issue of intent, Hamilton identified the criteria for libel that still hold sway in America today: that the writing in question must be false, defamatory and malicious. (p. 669)

 

Hamilton did not argue that truth should be conclusive, only that it should be admissible; if a journalist slandered his target accurately but maliciously, then he was still guilty of libel. He noted that the Sedition Act, “branded indeed with epithets the most odious,” contained one redeeming feature: it allowed the alleged libeler to plead both truth and intent before a jury. (p. 669)

Earlier, Hamilton instigated a libel suit against New York’s leading Republican newspaper, The Argus, which wrote that Hamilton had tried to buy another Republican paper for $6,000 – and that he accumulated such funds “from British secret service money.”

Falling back on common law, the court did not allow Hamilton to testify as to the truth or falsity of charges leveled against him – a situation that may have firmed his resolve to establish this principle in American libel law. The newspaper’s editor was convicted, fined $100 and incarcerated for four months. (p. 576)

Politics: Continuing what Hamilton and his peers started

With this series, I’m comparing life in Hamilton’s era – the late 1700s – to 21st century America. In today’s topic, we haven’t changed much during the past 200 years.

The current political landscape was formed in the timeframe experienced by Hamilton, the nation’s first treasury secretary.

 

… the rift between Hamilton and Madison precipitated the start of the two-party system in America. (p. 306)

 

Hamilton and James Madison at one time thought alike, to the point that they (along with John Jay, as a team called “Publius”) co-authored “The Federalist Papers,” a collection of 85 articles and essays promoting the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. While the project was Hamilton’s brainchild and he wrote most of the essays, “Madison, versed in the history of republics and confederacies, covered much of that ground … he also undertook to explain the general anatomy of the new government.” (p. 248)

hamilton book

Several years later, in early 1790, Hamilton wrote another extensive paper, “Report on Public Credit,” which outlined an extremely detailed financial system for the country, which included allowance for public debt – a system that continues today. Hamilton counted on Madison’s support to get his plan through Congress, but Madison surprised him by opposing it.

“Whereas the ‘Publius’ team of Hamilton, Madison and Jay had seen the supreme threat to liberty coming at the state level, Madison now began to direct his criticism at federal power lodged in the capable hands of the treasury secretary (Hamilton).” (p. 305) Congress eventually passed Hamilton’s plan, but not without plenty of effort, much of it by Hamilton himself.

Meanwhile, Hamilton and George Washington continued as leaders of the Federalist party, while Madison and Thomas Jefferson eventually helped form a Republican party.

 

Each side possessed a lurid, distorted view of the other, buttressed by an idealized sense of itself. (p. 392)

 

I sense that today’s Republican and Democratic parties feel the same. Perhaps we as Americans are more alike than we think we are, but you’d never know it if politics is your main line of thought. Perhaps those among us steeped in the political process should take a step back, breathe deeply and see “truth” from the other side. We might be surprised at what we’d see.

 

The tone of politics had rapidly grown very harsh. Some poison was released into the American political atmosphere that was not put back into the bottle for a generation. (p. 199)

 

Even before official political parties formed, differing opinions ran strong on how the new nation was to be set up and run. Here’s an example of a legal case that set precedents, but may have cost Hamilton major political points.

In Rutgers v. Waddington, a 1784 case, Hamilton defended Joshua Waddington, agent of Benjamin Waddington and Evelyn Pierrepont – two merchants who took control of a brewery owned by the widow Elizabeth Rutgers under the authority of the British Commissary General during the British occupation of New York. (Joshua Waddington was brewery supervisor.) The provisions of New York state’s Trespass Act (1873) provided Rutgers with the basis for a recovery of rent during that period.

http://www.nycourts.gov/history/legal-history-new-york/legal-history-eras-02/history-new-york-legal-eras-rutgers-waddington.html

The Trespass Act allowed patriots who had left properties behind enemy lines to sue anyone who had occupied, damaged or destroyed them. In this case Hamilton did not defend the patriot but those who occupied the brewery, claiming that the Trespass Act violated the law of nations, which allowed for the wartime use of property in occupied territory, and the 1783 peace treaty with England, which Congress had ratified. (p. 198) He saw Rutgers’ lawsuit as pure greed.

“Hamilton’s actions abruptly altered his image. He was accused of betraying the Revolution and tarnishing his bright promise, and it took courage for him to contest such frenzied emotion.” (p. 196)

The New York City Mayor’s Court gave a split verdict, awarding Rutgers much less – a negotiated 800 pounds – in back rent but not the 8,000 pounds Rutgers had sought.

Hamilton took plenty of heat for defending the British merchants.

“For radicals of the day, revolutionary purity meant a strong legislature that would overshadow a weak executive and judiciary. For Hamilton, this could only invite legislative tyranny. Rutgers v. Waddington represented his first major chance to expound the principle that the judiciary should enjoy coequal status with the other two branches of government.” (p. 199)

 

The intellectual caliber of the leading figures surpassed that of any future political leadership in American history. On the other hand, their animosity toward one another has seldom been exceeded either. (p. 405)

 

Our Founding Fathers were establishing a new type of country, a democracy trying to combine British and French models (which were very different), writing a new Constitution, setting up a federal judiciary (how much power should it have?) and establishing a monetary system that would earn respect across the world. None of this came easily.

The difficult political clashes of the late 1700s are being repeated today, over different issues of course. When the Founding Fathers established laws, the laws were respected – or changed. Plenty of protests took place in the early days, as they have in every time period since, but the rule of law has won out eventually every time. That will continue today as well.

 

These men wanted to modify the social order, not overturn it – a fair description of Hamilton’s future politics. (p. 46)

 

In the early days of Hamilton’s public life, in the early 1770s, George Washington and other leaders were not trying to form a new nation. That came later when they realized they couldn’t co-exist with England’s oppressive policies, including on trade and taxes.

Hamilton saw the big picture. He wanted the new nation to succeed, as all the Founding Fathers did, of course. But unlike most of them, Hamilton had a plan. He was a prolific writer and an unsurpassed orator, so he knew how to communicate his plan.

I don’t see much big-picture thinking in 2017. We’re focusing more on individual freedoms than we are on the common good. We’re seeking a proper balance there, and eventually, I hope, we’ll find it.