The founding fathers were worried, more than just about anything, about the threat a standing military would provide a free people.
Their worries were answered for the first 140 years of our nation’s history with a national military that was the absolute bare minimum needed to secure an isolated nation’s peacetime borders – the US Army in the 1870s included ten regiments of cavalry, 20 of infantry, and about eight of artillery, which was a tiny fraction of the army of any continental power – augmented in times of national emergency by troops raised by the states and lent do (and paid for by) the Feds for the duration of the emergency (which was where units like the “First Minnesota” and “67th Massachusetts” came from).
And between the strictures built into the system – the Posse Comitatus rule – and a generally well-directed sense of duty , the military has been generally good at staying out of internal business pretty much as long as there’s been a military.
But one thing the founding fathers never predicted in the 1780s – when “local law enforcement” meant a constable and whose main job was to watch for out-of-control fires – the power and scope of local and federal law enforcement today.
Whether it’s local police turning their SWAT teams into Panzergrenadier units, departments turning “law enforcement” into a stream of cash flow, cops turning crime scenes into free-fire zones and civilians into collateral damage stats, or even the most innocuous corners of the Federal Government coming up with the budget to have paramilitary units with full battle rattle, it’s fairly clear to me that the dynamic the Founders were worried about is alive and well…
…and turning the local and federal police into the “standing army” they were worried about in the first place.