Portrait of Robert A. Nisbet

Robert Nisbet on the Shock the Founding Fathers would feel if they could see the current size of the Military Establishment and the National Government (1988)

Found in: The Present Age

In 1988, Robert Nisbet gave a series of lectures to celebrate the bicentennial of the American Constitution. He reflected on what the Framers would be most struck by in America today and concluded that they would be incredulous at the staggering size of the military establishment and the Leviathan-like size of the national government:

War & Peace

What would the Framers (of the U.S. Constitution) be most struck by in America today? … Three aspects of the present age in America would surely draw their immediate, concerned, and perhaps incredulous attention. First, the prominence of war in American life since 1914, amounting to a virtual Seventy-Five Years War, and with this the staggering size of the American military establishment since World War II. … Second, the Leviathan-like presence of the national government in the affairs of states, towns, and cities, and in the lives, cradle to grave, of individuals.