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The Right to Alter or Abolish the Government:
Government Is the Mere Agent of the People
by Gerald R. Thompson
Previous: God Makes Nations, Men Make Governments
GOVERNMENT IS THE MERE AGENT OF THE PEOPLE
When examining the laws of nature and nature’s God, we have a basic choice between two opposing systems: Is it God => rulers => people, or is it God => people => rulers? That is, does civil authority flow directly from God to civil rulers, who then exercise that authority over the people? Or does civil authority flow directly from God to the people, who then delegate some of that authority to their rulers?
The Historical Backdrop
Even as the divine right of kings was flourishing as a political concept after the Protestant Reformation, so too was another political concept brewing, namely, that the powers of a king are not unlimited and that the king is under the law as much as any other. This was certainly the upshot of Lex Rex, in which it was conceived that the king was given power by way of a limited donation from the people,
- so as these three acts remain with the people. (1.) That they may measure out, by ounce weights, so much royal power, and no more and no less. (2.) So as they may limit, moderate, and set banks and marches to the exercise. (3.) That they give it out, conditionate, upon this and that condition, that they may take again to themselves what they gave out upon condition if the condition be violated. Samuel Rutherford, Lex Rex, Question 4 (1644).
Then there was the Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos (1579), in which the author took the position that all civil governments implied, if not expressly contained, a covenant between the people and the king. This covenant, or compact, was a limitation on the king and the powers of the government, the author taking his cue from the examples of king Saul and king David we have already discussed. But it wasn’t exactly an even bargain.
- It is certain, then, that the people by way of stipulation require a performance of covenants. The king promises it. Now the condition of a stipulator is in terms of law more worthy than of a promisor. The people ask the king, whether he will govern justly and according to the laws? He promises he will. Then the people answer, and not before, that while he governs uprightly, they will obey faithfully. The king therefore promises simply and absolutely, the people upon condition: the which failing to be accomplished, the people rest according to equity and reason quit from their promise.
In other words, according to the Vindiciae, the king promises absolutely (unconditionally), while the people only stipulate conditionally. The king may not break his promise to the people under any circumstances, but the people may break their compact with the king if he behaves wrongly. The author then states the obvious logical conclusion:
- Now, seeing that the people choose and establish their kings, it follows that the whole body of the people is above the king; for it is a thing most evident, that he who is established by another, is accounted under him who has established him, and he who receives his authority from another, is less than he from whom he derives his power.
John Locke conceived of the relationship between the people and their rulers yet another way, namely, as a form of trust.
- There is … another way whereby governments are dissolved, and that is, when the legislative, or the prince, either of them act contrary to their trust. * * * In these, and the like cases, when the government is dissolved, the people are at liberty to provide for themselves by erecting a new legislative differing from the other by the change of persons, or form, or both, as they shall find it most for their safety and good. J. Locke, Second Treatise on Government, §§221, 220 (1690).
The American Way
The framers were unquestionably familiar with all of these prior historical writings on the subject, as well as many others. In fact, you will find much of the language of the Declaration of Independence in Locke’s 2nd Treatise, Ch. 19, Of the Dissolution of Government. So when the U.S. Constitution was being drafted and ratified, how was it conceived – as a donation, a covenant, or a trust?
According to Joseph Story, writing in his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (1833), the framers had a protracted discussion (during and immediately following the Constitutional Convention) about whether the United States government was founded on the principle of a compact or not. In fact, Story devoted a lengthy chapter (Bk. 3, Ch. 3) to just this question. The question is not an easy one, because as Story pointed out, there are several kinds of civil compacts.
The kind referred to by Locke and many others as a social compact actually had a very specific meaning, namely, an agreement between the members of society to form a civil community or a body politic. The first and most obvious example of which in America was the Mayflower Compact (1620). But a social compact as such formed no actual government and was not in any sense a compact between the people and their rulers. So Story ruled that out as a model for the Constitution.
Story explored whether the Constitution can be explained as some other form of compact. In the time he was writing (1833), the winds of Southern secession were already blowing, so he attempted to head off the twin evils of states leaving the union and individuals declaring themselves not bound by the Constitution, both of which he saw as logical outcomes if the Constitution was a form of compact. For a variety of reasons, he rejected the idea of the Constitution as any kind of compact.
Further, Story claimed that the American founders rejected that idea as well. According to Story, the framers did not want to base the Constitution on compact principles because it would make it seem like the states and/or the federal government were the equals of the people. The framers viewed the people as superior to all governments formed by them (state or federal), and all such governments as inferior. And how could you have an agreement between unequal parties?
Plus, following the rationale of the Vindiciae, viewing the Constitution as a compact would limit the ability of the people to alter or abolish their government to only cases of oppression – and the framers didn’t want that limitation. They needed a broader principle – one that treated the people as superior to their rulers and did not regard the government as an equal. One that bound the states as much as the federal government. A principle by which the people did not serve civil rulers, but the civil rulers served the people.
That principle was agency, with the people as the principal and civil rulers as their agents. Under the principle of agency, the government was inferior to the people, not an equal, and the people were its masters. Under agency, both states and the federal government were subject to the people and unable to escape from the constitutional scheme imposed on them by the people.
But most importantly, if civil authority resides originally in the people and civil rulers are merely their agents, then the people have the inherent right to remove any civil ruler, and to alter or abolish their form of government, as much as any principal can discharge an agent at will. Joseph Story, in his chapter on whether the Constitution is a compact, provided an excerpt from the constitutional debates in North Carolina as indicative of this view:
- “[U]nless the rulers are guilty of oppression, the people, on the principles of a compact, have no right to new-model their government. This is held to be the principle of some monarchical governments in Europe. Our government is founded on much nobler principles. The people are known with certainty to have originated it themselves. Those in power are their servants and agents. And the people, without their consent, may new-model the government, whenever they think proper, not merely because it is oppressively exercised, but because they think another form will be more conducive to their welfare.” [Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (1833), Bk. 3, Ch. 3, §358.]
In the early years of the republic, these principles were well known and understood.
- [I]n a republic, they [the people] assemble and administer it by their representatives and agents. Federalist, No. 14.
- The federal and State governments are in fact but different agents and trustees of the people. Federalist, No. 46.
- If there should happen to be an irreconcilable variance between the two, that which has the superior obligation and validity ought, of course, to be preferred; or, in other words, the Constitution ought to be preferred to the statute, the intention of the people to the intention of their agents. Federalist, No. 78.
- It being one of the great, fundamental principles of the American governments, that the people are the sovereign, and those who administer the government their agents, and servants, not their kings and masters. [St. George Tucker, Notes of Reference, Vol. 1, Note D (1803).]
- [W]hen the constitution is founded in voluntary compact, and consent, and imposes limits to the efficient force of the government, or administrative authority, the people are still the sovereign; the government is the mere creature of their will; and those who administer it are their agents and servants. * * * And if it should happen that time and experience may demonstrate that the people have adopted, or consented to a pernicious plan; whose destructive tendency they have discovered; and now see their error; taking that plan to tend to their good, which they find has the most opposite tendency; they are free from its obligation, and may insist upon a new model of polity. [St. George Tucker, Notes of Reference, Vol. 1, Note B (1803).]
So wrap your head around this if you will. It wasn’t good enough for the framers that the people should be able to alter or abolish their government only in the case of oppression, but the people needed to be able to alter or abolish the government whenever they thought it might be beneficial. Talk about pushing the envelope. And nobody in 1787 thought the framers were extremists, radicals, or terrorists because of this. They were just stating the obvious.
Principles of Agency
The fact that in America true sovereignty resides in the people and government is the mere agent of the people carries with it certain corollary principles as dictated by the law of nature. I suggest the following are among those corollaries dictated by nature:
- The agent has no inherent or natural authority, and no inherent or natural rights. The agent only has what the principal expressly gives it, and no more. Look closely at the 9th and 10th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The people have powers, some of which are delegated to the states or the federal government (10th Amend.). But neither the states nor the federal government have any rights – only the people have rights (9th Amend.).
- Just because an agency has been created does not deprive the principal of its original authority. The principal retains full authority to act on its own behalf and in its own self-interest. Just because the people have created a government does not mean they have deprived themselves of the ability to engage in self-government, or that ultimate sovereignty does not still reside with them.
- The principal can discharge the agent at any time without the consent of the agent. The agent has no right to retain its agency against the will of the principal. Any form of government is disposable and the people can alter or abolish their government at any time without the consent of public officials as a matter of natural right.
- The agent owes a duty of allegiance and obedience to follow the will of the principal – the principal owes no such duty to the agent. People are the masters, and public officials are the servants. It is not the duty of the people to serve the goals of public policy, nor the right of public officials to bend the people to their will as to how society should operate.
- Since the authority of an agent is derivative and delegated, it can never expand its own authority beyond whatever authority the principal had in the first place – the agent can never become greater than the principal. If I do not have the right to tell my neighbor what to do with his property, how to run his business, what contracts he must make, or spy on his private communications, I cannot delegate that authority to a government agent, nor can a government agent vest himself with that authority.
- If the agent purports to do things which the principal never had the right to do, it is illegitimate and a usurpation. When public officials tell us what to do with our own property, how to run our businesses, dictate the terms and kinds of contracts we must make, and spy on our private communications, it is usurpation, oppression and tyranny.
- The mere substitution of a new agent for an old agent under the original grant of agency does not vest the new agent with any powers the prior agent did not have. In our constitutional system, every election is not a new authorization or a new grant of power. So unless the Constitution is changed, there are no new “mandates.” Elections are not how the people delegate new authority to their agents.
AN INALIENABLE RIGHT
- The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. U.S. Const., 9th Amend.
The question naturally arises, when the 9th Amendment says the people retain other rights besides those listed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, what rights these are? The obvious answer, from a lonang perspective, is whatever other rights are given to man by God. We need not scour the laws of nature and nature’s God to determine all of the possible rights given to mankind because for the present purpose it is enough to refer back to what we have already covered.
Namely, that God gave mankind the right to institute such forms of government as should seem best to the people; that the people have the right to determine what documents (if any) will establish and/or define that government, what powers may be exercised in what ways, and the manner of succession; that God put all civil sovereignty ultimately in the hands of the people of every nation, and that He does not interfere with its exercise by the people.
A chief tenet of the law of accountability is that people owe the duty and accountability for the exercise of any authority they may have solely to the source from which it came. If the authority of the people to form, re-form and un-form civil governments comes from God, then to God alone are the people accountable, and most certainly are they not accountable to their delegees, their agents or their servants whom the people have chosen.
This accountability of the people to God alone, and not to their civil rulers, is what makes any God-given authority of the people an inalienable right. For as James Madison recognized,
- It is unalienable … because what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator. … This duty is precedent both in order of time and degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society. Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe: And if a member of Civil Society, who enters into any subordinate Association, must always do it with a reservation of his duty to the general authority; much more must every man who becomes a member of any particular Civil Society, do it with a saving of his allegiance to the Universal Sovereign. J. Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments (1785).
This conclusion is not merely my opinion. The manifold witness of the American founding is that the right of the people to form, re-form and un-form civil governments is an inalienable right.
- [W]hen any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, a majority of the community hath an indubitable, inalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal. Virginia Declaration of Rights, §3 (1776).
Plus, of course, we have the witness of the Declaration of Independence. In that document, although it sometimes speaks of inalienable rights in general, there are exactly five things expressly denominated as rights and one additional right strongly implied: 1) life; 2) liberty; 3) the pursuit of happiness (primarily contract and property rights); 4) the right of representation; 5) equality (strongly implied in that all men are created equal); and 6) the right to alter or abolish the government.
Notwithstanding that the Declaration is (sadly) usually ignored for legal purposes today, life, liberty the pursuit of happiness, equality and representation are all still held in high regard as rights which are absolutely essential to the nature and composition of American civil society. These have not diminished in importance as basic rights over time.
My question is why the right to alter or abolish the government should be held in any lesser regard than the other rights named? Clearly the founders recognized the right as essential and inalienable, for of all the rights mentioned in the Declaration, the right to alter and abolish is the only one mentioned twice. (The second time is when the Declaration states, “it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”)
The Declaration mentions the right of the people to alter or abolish their form of government in the same context, even the very same paragraph, as its mention of life, liberty, equality and the pursuit of happiness. Therefore, it is not only reasonable, but contextually required, that we read the right to alter or abolish in the same light as we read the other rights, and that we hold it in the same regard.
We meed to ask ourselves whether the statements in the Declaration concerning the right to alter or abolish were true when they were written? Are they true now? Obviously circumstances in the world and in America have changed since 1776, but has anything changed in the laws of nature and nature’s God between then and now that would make the Declaration less true over time? Or, if you will, since the right to alter or abolish is a God-given right, has God changed His mind or the way He deals with mankind since 1776?
If so, where is the evidence? If not, then act on the truth we know. Because there is one thing about inalienable rights that you should never forget. Inalienable rights are eternal. Inalienable rights are bestowed by the Creator God who never changes. Cf. Heb. 13:8. Societies and governments may come and go, but the right to alter or abolish the government will always be there.
WHY MESS WITH NEAR PERFECTION?
You may be asking yourself whether I actually want to significantly change or abolish the U.S. Constitution, but that isn’t really the question.
The question is whether the federal government has gotten out of control to the point where it is continually trampling on more and more individual rights, denying more and more individual freedoms, and instead of establishing justice, promoting the general welfare and securing liberty, it is continually engaged in corrupting justice, promoting special interests and becoming oppressive.
I believe that is exactly what has happened, and I will detail the manner of current government oppression in the next section.
I don’t harbor any grudges against the American framers or the chief product of their efforts, the U.S. Constitution. By any fair reckoning, the Constitution was a remarkable achievement in the annals of world history which brought unparalleled freedom, prosperity, peace and stability to our nation, helping us to become foremost among the nations of the earth in many ways. I would never want to disturb the vital constitutional doctrines of the separation of powers, of federalism, of enumerated powers, or the preservation of individual rights.
But beginning in the aftermath of the Civil War, greatly accelerated by reason of our national responses to World War I, the Great Depression, the upheaval of the 1960’s and the attack of 9/11, things began to go terribly wrong. And instead of correcting past errors since then, things have only gotten exponentially worse since 2008 with regard to individual rights and freedoms.
So, yes, there are definitely some things I’d like to change.
I would make some things which were well understood when first written more clear and unambiguous so as to prevent their continued misinterpretation by Congress and the courts, e.g.:
• the first 8 articles of the Bill of Rights only apply to Congress, not the states (doing away with the so-called incorporation doctrine);
• the commerce clause only applies to eliminating state erected barriers to commerce, and is not a great substantive power for Congress to regulate the nation’s commerce down to the local and individual level (doing away with the so-called interstate commerce power);
• defining natural born citizen as requiring that both of the parents of a presidential candidate must be citizens of the U.S., instead of leaving it for people to discover by reading Vattel’s The Law of Nations; and
• clarifying that the preamble to the Constitution grants no substantive powers to provide for the general welfare of the nation.
I would add language specifically abolishing a number of Supreme Court inventions out of whole cloth, such as:
• the myth of judicial supremacy, that Supreme Court opinions are the supreme law of the land (restoring the Supremacy Clause to apply only to legislation, not judicial opinions);
• all notions of substantive due process and the dormant commerce clause (which are complete judicial fictions);
• the notion that the public interest, convenience or necessity is a sufficient constitutional basis for passing legislation;
• the fiction that Congress can delegate rule-making authority to administrative agencies or to government employees who are not elected representatives of the people; and
• the doctrine of implied powers, which subverts and negates the constitutional framework of enumerated powers only.
I’d instantly repeal the 17th Amendment (which took away the election of senators from the states and destroyed the constitutional structure of federalism).
But there are some things I think the framers actually got wrong and/or just completely missed because they weren’t issues at the time, including:
• limiting the term of all members of Congress (both House and Senate) to twelve years; and
• limiting the terms of justices of the Supreme Court, and in fact all federal judges, to twelve years.
Finally, I would correct a number of fundamental misconceptions about the nature of civil authority and the limited function of civil government, namely:
• ban the government from being charitable with taxpayers funds (all forms of public assistance and welfare);
• ban all federal pensions except for wounded, killed or MIA military personnel;
• limit salaries, staffs and perks for all government employees;
• deny any separate staff or perks to the First Lady (merely being married to the President is not a government position);
• eliminate all so-called independent agencies (which constitute an unconstitutional fourth branch of government);
• repeal 90% of Title 42, U.S. Code (regarding the public health and welfare); and
• divest the federal government of 90% of its land holdings.
But let’s face it, the main problem isn’t actually the U.S. Constitution per se. The problem is the way it has consistently been misconstrued, perverted and outright ignored. And the fact that government employees and representatives are constantly thinking of ways to have the government do something new and additional, or have it do things in a bigger way than before. Everyone, it seems, wants their budgets to be expanded.
The time for that is past. We don’t need the government to do more new things, or to do old things in a bigger way. We need the government to do less, and to get out of the way of the private sector. When God laid out the framework for civil authority, He did not envision or empower people to create a centralized structure, but a decentralized one. Self-government is the rule – from the bottom up, not the top down.
However, I’m not sure there are enough people in the U.S. today (I’m talking about roughly a hundred people or so) who I would trust to write an all-new Constitution based on the principle of self-government. The framers were steeped in a common worldview, based on strong biblical teaching of a federal theology derived from a Judeo-Christian framework that is no longer commonly shared or well known.
Frankly, the most frightening possibility to me is throwing 100 modern Christians into a room and asking them to write a Constitution – which would be disastrous, because modern Christians simply have no clue about historic federal theology or any significant appreciation of the substance of the laws of nature and nature’s God.
But of course, you’d never get Christians of any stripe to be a majority of a convention body today, which only goes to the point that the worldview framework of any group of constitutional experts’ or political wannabees would be so fractured, so disparate that they wouldn’t be able to agree on anything, or if they did, it would be horribly wrong. Can you name 100 people you would trust to create a new and better government structure?
In the end, however, exercising the right to alter or abolish isn’t about getting my personal wish list, or anyone else’s wish list (such as the Liberty Amendments proposed by Mark R. Levin), enacted. In fact, altering or abolishing the government isn’t really about the Constitution at all. At root, the Constitution isn’t the main problem. The main problem is the way everyone – government employees, public officials, public welfare recipients and the average voter – all think about government.
Thanks to the relentless efforts of the progressive movement, we have become a society not of free individuals, but of collectivist thinking drones.
Maybe what we really need is not a wholly new Constitution, but a fresh start, a reset, accomplished by brooming out all of the current people in government and forbidding them to return to government service. Accompanied by getting government out of the education business altogether, so maybe in a generation we can transform our population back into a society of free individuals.
In any event, something major has to be done. Status quo will lead America in only one direction – tyranny and despotism. Are we just going to sit by and let it happen?
A LONG TRAIN OF ABUSES AND USURPATIONS
According to the Declaration of Independence, the people have the right and duty to “throw off” a government when a long train of abuses and usurpations indicates that the government is: 1) intent on destroying the inalienable rights of the people; or 2) intent on wielding unlimited power (that is, it has become despotic).
Unfortunately, the train of abuses and usurpations of the current government system in America (both state and federal) is growing at an alarming rate. In the words of the Declaration, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
The President has:
• appointed numerous officials to new offices or positions not authorized by Congress;
• made numerous recess appointments when Congress is not actually in recess;
• legislated from the Oval Office by issuing rules and regulations for the general public by executive fiat;
• decided which laws he will enforce or not and refuses to enforce those laws he does not personally approve when he has no discretion in the matter;
• refused to secure our national borders or enforce existing valid immigration laws;
• used the armed forces of the nation as fertile ground for implementing social policies relating to sexuality, gender and religion which are detrimental to force readiness, force capabilities and troop morale;
• undertaken actions for the sole purpose of achieving political ends without regard for the good of the people or his constitutional duties;
• implemented a foreign policy in which he refuses to name or acknowledge our actual enemies and uses euphemisms and weasel words to obscure the nature of the enemy;
• offended, rebuffed and spurned our international allies, while easing restrictions on our enemies and bowing to their leaders;
• vowed to hold terrorists responsible for attacks against us, but actually does nothing to apprehend or punish them; and
• allows agencies under his authority to wrongfully target people based on political or religious beliefs and refuses to hold anyone accountable.
• passed burdensome laws without knowing what was in them and openly mocked the requirement to read aloud and debate legislation prior to passage;
• farmed out the writing of major pieces of legislation to private interest groups and then adopted the same as their own work product;
• placed many burdensome requirements on the people which Congress exempts its own members and their staffs from sharing;
• failed to pass annual budgets as required by law or to restrain its own spending habits;
• authorized unprecedented increases in the national debt limit which have endangered the national economy;
• failed to hold the Federal Reserve accountable or to reign in its inexcusable printing of fiat currency in large quantities;
• established phony courts such as the FISA court which operate in secrecy and whose proceedings are completely ex parte (a non-adversarial proceeding, i.e., no actual case or controversy);
• violated the separation of powers and usurped judicial power by taking testimony, administering oaths and using subpoenas to compel testimony in non-judicial hearings;
• used the tax laws to achieve a coercive redistribution of wealth under the guise of social welfare programs and individual tax subsidies;
• enacted manifold legislation based on a non-existent power to regulate things which merely affect interstate commerce indirectly;
• delegated legislative authority (rulemaking) to so-called independent agencies which have no accountability to the people;
• created a sizeable fourth branch of government consisting of administrative agencies which have no accountability to the people; and
• exercised a general police power that the Constitution intentionally reserved exclusively to the states.
The Supreme Court has:
• colluded with Congress to deprive the states of their proper spheres of sovereignty and so defeat the will of the people;
• created numerous fictitious constitutional doctrines out of whole cloth, such as substantive due process and the dormant commerce clause, all evincing a design to increase federal power;
• incorporated’ the Bill of Rights intended solely for Congress and applied them to the states in violation of state sovereignty;
• proclaimed that its opinions are the supreme law of the land, whereas the Supremacy Clause applies solely to legislation, not judicial opinions;
• looked the other way and ignored pleas to enforce the natural-born citizen clause;
• refused to adhere to a color-blind or race neutral policy for government actions, instead deferring to the false gods of affirmative action and diversity;
• created non-existent individual rights to reproductive health based on penumbras and notions of social progress;
• refused to enforce familial rights to reproductive health based on the laws of nature and nature’s God;
• manufactured criminal procedure rights (Miranda warnings, state provided legal counsel, etc.) and prisoners’ rights (sex change operations, etc.) out of thin air;
• upheld the taking of private land by government for non-public uses, including private redevelopment; and
• allowed Congress and the President to expand the scope of federal powers well beyond anything envisioned by the Constitution and failing to act as guardians of the rights of the people.
Additionally, both state and federal governments act in numerous ways to defeat the rights of the people.
Government has deprived or subverted the right to life by:
• making the wholesale slaughter of unborn children not only permissible, but protected as a civil right;
• caring more for the lives of lower animal species through protective legislation than for unborn children;
• treating lower animals as having rights of property and inheritance;
• authorizing the assassination of people for political purposes, to protect government bureaucrats, or supposedly for national security reasons;
Government has deprived or subverted the right to personal liberty by:
• using national security as an excuse to deprive individuals of the due process of law in interrogations;
• engaging in the secret or forcible rendition of suspected criminals to another country without due process of law;
• creating a personal right to engage in immoral sexual behavior and to terminate pregnancies where no natural rights exist;
• engaging in intrusive government tracking of individual movements, electronic activities and transactions which are private in nature;
• involuntarily conscripting every teacher, health care professional and child care worker as a confidential informant (i.e., government agent) with respect to the treatment of children; and
• granting anonymity to such informants depriving the accused of the right to face their accusers.
Government has deprived or subverted the rights of free speech by:
• treating institutional press organizations and personnel as entitled to freedom of the press, but denying that same right to unaffiliated individuals;
• restricting personal speech and behavior according to the dictates of the false gods of political correctness and zero tolerance policies in violation of the individual right of free expression;
• penalizing so-called hate crimes, when hate is exclusively within God’s jurisdiction to deal with and no man has authority to punish; ad
• limiting the time, place and manner of free speech based on the content of that speech.
Government has deprived or subverted the rights of religion and conscience by:
• denying to Christians the same freedom of religious expression which is afforded to people of other faiths;
• denying to individuals the freedom to make religious discriminations in their private associations, business transactions and employments;
• denying military chaplains and other government employees the right to freely practice their religious beliefs, including the right to proselytize;
• forcing private organizations to support health care policies which violate their religious beliefs;
• treating clergy as persons entitled to special tax and legal benefits in violation of the universal religious rights of all individuals to be treated equally in their religious capacities; and
• treating certain religious organizations as entitled to special exemptions in violation of the universal religious rights of all individuals and the prohibition of establishments of religion.
Government has deprived or subverted the rights of family government by:
• permitting the adoption of children by same-sex couples to whom God has given no natural right to bear children;
• permitting the artificial insemination of unmarried persons to whom God has given no natural right to conceive or bear children;
• restricting and denying the right of parents to control the sexual education, sexual behavior, and access to contraceptives or abortions of their children during their minority;
• restricting, regulating and licensing parents in the discharge of their natural rights and duties to educate their children in any manner they see fit;
• forcibly removing children from their parents based on non-compliance with government standards for the education, care or discipline of such children; and
• coercively imposing progressive ideals of education through compulsory attendance laws, funding by property taxation, the licensing of teachers, and state approved curricula.
Government has deprived or subverted the rights of private property by:
• telling people what crops they can or cannot grow on their own land;
• telling people what they can or cannot build or develop on their own land;
• telling people that business activities which are perfectly lawful when conducted elsewhere cannot be conducted from their homes;
• requiring the preservation of habitats, wetlands and other environmental zones when their modification poses no common law nuisance or trespass to other property owners;
• imposing environmental regulations on privately held property;
• taxing property, gifts, estates and inheritances;
• taking private property in the name of a public use’ but in reality turning such property over to another private owner;
• regulating land use for aesthetic purposes and to achieve other social goals through the use of zoning laws;
• designating various agricultural crops which God has made as contraband, making it illegal to grow, sell or possess them; and
• imposing licensing, regulation and taxation on the processing of agricultural produce for personal use or consumption (such as tobacco and alcohol).
Government has deprived or subverted the rights of free enterprise by:
• subverting the bankruptcy laws by denying the claims of legitimate creditors and granting improper claims to special interest groups for political favor;
• using taxpayer monies to fund the bailout of private enterprises;
• placing an inordinate and extreme amount of land in the nation under the sole dominion of the federal government, restricting its cultivation, habitation and development for commercial purposes;
• using taxpayer funds to prop up favored private business enterprises in obeisance to the false gods of green energy, environmentalism and sustainability in subversion of private markets; and
• taxing and regulating carbon dioxide emissions, which is the same as taxing the air, when the Creator has ordained that all living things other than plants should emit carbon dioxide, which is their natural right so to do.
Government has deprived the rights of private employers by:
• forcing them to hire people whose beliefs or lifestyles are repugnant to them, and prohibiting employers from making hiring and firing decisions based on factors they alone deem relevant, all in violation of the freedom of association;
• dictating the terms of employment, including wage and hour regulation, health care coverage, the provision of contraceptives and other benefits to employees at no cost, all in violation of the freedom of contract;
• forcing them to recognize and deal exclusively with labor unions, prohibiting the hiring of non-union employees, and subjecting union contracts to government oversight, all in violation of the rights of contract and association;
• involuntarily conscripting every private employer as a tax collection agent by making them collect, pay and account for taxes owed by others, namely, their employees;
• imposing numerous other regulatory burdens on the conduct of private enterprise which are unfunded liabilities, undertaken to impose non-consensual social policy objectives, thereby decreasing profits and incentives, and in many cases causing businesses to close not because of market factors but because of excessive government regulations;
• regulating business endeavors by imposing fees, licensing requirements, as well as time, place and manner restrictions, arbitrarily making illegal what is inherently lawful by natural right;
• granting monopolies to labor unions to represent employees and then forcing both employers and employees to deal exclusively with such unions under penalty of law; and
• imposing government restrictions (via licensing) on the number and qualifications of people who would choose a particular line of work.
Government has further deprived or subverted the rights of free association and contract by:
• requiring individuals to enter into private contracts for the purchase of auto or health insurance under penalty of law and dictating the terms of those policies;
• prescribing the terms and conditions of private contracts for the purchase of all manner of services and products (price controls, legal tender laws, etc.);
• prohibiting individuals from personally choosing with whom they might enter into all manner of business transactions, while at the same time allowing government to discriminate against persons in the name of achieving diversity, when the legal rights and duties are exactly the reverse;
• requiring private associations in the name of diversity to admit members and install leaders who fundamentally disagree with the purposes of the association; and
• using tort law to hold parents responsible for the sins of their children, and using affirmative action laws to hold children responsible for the sins of their ancestors.
The Declaration of Independence listed a mere 27 items of complaint, which to the minds of the signers constituted a long train of abuses and usurpations. I have here listed 89 items of complaint, and I have no doubt but that with some helpful suggestions by my readers, that list could be expanded. But really – how many items of complaint does anyone need?
By the standard used in the Declaration of Independence, have things reached the point where a long train of abuses and usurpations has made it necessary to make some fundamental changes to our government? You bet they have.
It is a great and terrible truth that whatever people have the right to institute among men by the consent of the governed, they also have the right to alter or abolish by consent. These two great powers are two sides of the same coin, for one cannot possibly exist without the other. It is a package deal – you either get all of it, or none of it.
People not only have the right or ability to do these things, they have the duty or obligation to do them. It is irresponsible to fail to implement God’s design for the government of any nation by inadequately establishing a framework for the administration of justice and the securing of individual rights. It is just as irresponsible to fail to correct the situation when government gets so out of whack that the justice it administers is no longer just, and the individual rights of the people are no longer secure.
We as a people cannot do nothing. If not for ourselves, we owe it to our children – our posterity – to provide new guards for their future security when the existing ones have failed. This power is not to be taken lightly, nor should it be exercised regarding governments long established for light and transient causes.
But I hope you have seen the things with which we are now faced are not merely political differences, and the goal is not merely some light and transient cause. The struggle we are now facing is not about tweaking the government so that it can run better. It is about significantly paring back the size and scope of government. The government is simply doing too many things it shouldn’t be doing at all. Eliminating fraud, excess and corruption isn’t the issue. It’s about eliminating usurpation and setting the people free from their governmentally imposed chains.
All the jousting between political parties (Republican, Democrat, Independent) and philosophical camps (progressive, establishment, tea party) is just a distraction. If there’s one thing we should recognize by now, the problems we face with our government’s excesses and tyrannization of the people cannot be solved by any election, or series of elections. Merely getting “our” people in and “their” people out isn’t the solution if the entrenched interests and bureaucratic machinery currently in place remain intact.
Merely pouring new wine into old wineskins won’t solve anything – in fact, it is just as likely to make the situation worse. Cf. Mat. 9:17. The wineskin itself (government structure) must be changed before the new wine (new people) can be put into it in order to make the whole thing work.
Ultimately, we as a nation must reject the idea that the state (i.e., civil government in general) is the supreme achievement of mankind. Instead, we must embrace the ideal that the true foundation of every society is self-government, and those people are most free who have learned how to effectively stop the growth of civil power. Progressivism holds that progress is measured by an increased centralization of power. But I say the real progress of history is the ability to limit tyranny. That is the goal we must press toward.
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