Jefferson and Jeffersonianism
"While Jefferson remains a popular personage with Americans today, his political philosophy is essentially defunct," concludes Kevin R. C. Gutzman in an article about whether Jefferson fathered Sally Hemings’s children — When Tom Met Sally. "States’ rights? Almost entirely local self-government? Highly limited federal spending? Strenuous endeavor to avoid war? No entangling alliances? Anger at federal judicial usurpation?" The author concludes, "There’s really not much of a Jefferson legacy to fight over, intensely lamentable though that fact may be."
Stephan Kinsella, "disgusted and cynical about constitutional sentimentalism," goes as far to say (much farther than I am willing to go) that "America was not some minarchist paradise at its founding" but rather "a flawed utopian experiment resulting from an illegal coup d’etat... establishing a constructivist new order based on a 'rational, scientific' paper document and rejecting traditional, superior, unwritten, monarchist limits on state power" — Goodbye 1776, 1789, Tom. (Interesting that a libertarian should be arriving at the same conclusion reached by many Catholic traditionalists and other monarchists.)
While it is true that "he violated the Constitution while in office" (perhaps this is why he left off his stint as president on his epitaph), I'm not so sure that "he helped foist on the world this utopian experiment that has led to the present state of the world." His vision of "[a]lmost entirely local self-government" and "[s]trenuous endeavor to avoid war" was almost stillborn with the birth of the Republic, although it was picked up by the Swiss, much to their benefit.
Whatever his personal failings (Mr. Kinsella notes he was "he was a slaveowner, probably a slave-raper;" Prof. Gutzman is kinder, referring to "Jefferson’s seemingly comfortable acceptance of the idea that, as a slave-owner, he had a certain droit de seigneur), and we should be careful not to judge him or others by the standards of our own time, his political philosophy remains our first, last, best hope as Americans. Also, a people needs its myths.
"I am often asked if I am a republican or a monarchist," said Archduke Franz Joseph Otto Robert Maria Anton Karl Max Heinrich Sixtus Xaver Felix Renatus Ludwig Gaetan Pius Ignatius of Austria. "I am neither; I am a legitimist." His Imperial and Royal Highness explained: "I am for legitimate government. You could never have a monarchy in Switzerland, and it would be asinine to imagine Spain as a republic."
It would be just as asinine to imagine the American Republic as a monarchy. Let us not be ashamed that our country's founding was somewhat unique and unprecedented. And if, as some Catholic traditionalits assert, monarchy is superior to republicanism among the two legitimate forms of government, we will just have to humbly accept our slightly inferior status. Of course, that will be a moot point unless we can pull off an unprecedented return to republicanism from imperialism.