My country 'tis of thee: Time for Americans to pay attention. Part V of VII
by Brian Kelly on January 24, 2013
Now that we have exercised our way through four parts of this essay, is there anybody out there who cannot tell me why the US is considered to be a constitutional democracy or whether principles of direct democracy should or should not be used to help us out at the national level? By now, those, who do not know these answers, who really want to know, already know that they may choose to reread the prior sections of this article. If my work is not enough, feel free to do additional research, perhaps on the Internet, an often fine source of information about our founding. In all cases, please pay attention.
I humbly request that my readers be honest with yourselves and eventually, even if you don't quite get it all yet, know that you will. I have recently been influenced by Rush Limbaugh, who believes all writers and show hosts must begin to attempt to bring in the low-information voters to help them learn what they must do to become better Americans. I agree with Rush's premise but, as a natural skeptic, I await his plan.
This column is not destined to become a slow-learners guide to American Democracy, but there will be times that I reach out a bit so you and I can help those who do not know what we know about our government. I think there must be some way that we can help a lot of good Americans to know that they are not being served well today by the US government. There is always hope that if we can help our fellow Americans understand the beauty of the American system, like US, they too will be upset when our leaders choose to not do their jobs.
The principles of our nation is a really fascinating topic. As a professor at heart, I am prepared to help those who want to learn or who need clarification. I promise to answer any direct question in the comments section of this article for any part of this essay that I may have left fuzzy. Feel free to ask your questions. You may choose to wait until the other two parts are posted for the answer may be there; but do not feel constrained. I will follow this article and will respond to your comments.
A practical exercise in understanding our government is to simply watch the news and / or read the papers. But, with a corrupt press, you and I must always carry with us our Dick Tracy wrist-band lie detectors, to assure we are getting the truth. Just don't let that crafty "little face" guy talk you out of any of your own original thinking.
When you watch or read or listen to the "news," please do not believe everything you see, hear, or read. Too many of US know that the Obama government is not operating under the Constitution, and we all wish that the rest of America knew what we know.
On the left, there are leaders who do not believe that the precepts of democracy or republicanism are even important. This fact can be verified simply by observing the actions of recent and current Democrat-controlled governments.
As a reluctant Democrat, I cannot believe that so many of my fellow Democrats fall for the slop delivered by the mainstream Democratic Party today. If really good people who are pure Democrats paid more attention to their leaders, they would insist their leaders do better for them. Alas, the people as a rule do not pay attention. That, more than anything else, is the missing piece in our representative democratic republic. We would all do well and our nation would do much better, if we all paid attention.
Simply by living in the last twenty years, many Americans who do pay attention have lost their trust in government. The most unfortunate part of that is that we the people have become the problem. We send back the knaves and the thieves and the scoundrels that vow to continue to keep us in this sorry state. We reward our politicians by reelection even when they serve US poorly.
Just yesterday, on her role in the Benghazi cover-up, Hillary Clinton, the next closest thing to royalty to our sitting President, summed up the whole hearing in these words: "What difference... does it make?" In other words her being Hillary Clinton is all that really matters, and the lies told won't bring back the four dead Americans. Though she and many others lied to the American people—So what! We can no longer trust the government or the press! That's what!
Even with our own too recent experience, Americans from many descents would still like to be in simpatico with our founders. To do the right thing, we must know what is happening, and we must understand that our leaders and the complicit corrupt press try to trick us into believing their drivel. While England was in control, it helps to remember that none of our founders ever met a government official they trusted. Nor should we!
The founders trusted no leaders and no forms of government. This stems from their own experience and observations in their home countries. Their hope for America was that they would be able to build a long lasting government that would best serve all the people of the United States from then unto the future in the best way.
As the colonists were contemplating a break with England, the motherland for many, the leaders searched for methods of certainty upon which they would be able to form a successful government. In this quest, they were profoundly influenced by John Locke, especially his 1689 work, known as The Second Treatise of Civil Government (1689).
In this work, Locke wrote of his strong belief in natural rights that exist in nature and should exist in government. Yes, it is recommended reading in the study of democracy, republicanism, and government. These rights, according to Locke, include the protection of life, liberty, and property.
A look at Thomas Jefferson's language when he wrote the Declaration of Independence shows how he was influenced by Locke. For property, he substituted the "pursuit of happiness," though in many writings, it was clear that Jefferson had great concern for the notion of private property, and that our government would extend respect to such a basic individual right.
Jefferson was very concerned about government confiscation of any type of property as well the denial of the opportunity for individual gain. And, so, he substituted the word happiness to carry all those notions. And, well it does!
After reading Locke, Jefferson said that "A right to property is founded in our natural wants, in the means with which we are endowed to satisfy these wants and the right to what we acquire by those means without violating the similar rights of other sensible beings." He sent this particular prose in correspondence to Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours in 1816. Do any Americans of today fear lack of freedom or liberty enough to even claim to fully understand these words?
According to Locke, government has one purpose—to protect these natural rights. Redistribution of assets from Joe, who earned them to Harry who did not, is not, according to Locke, a natural right. Among other notions, which the founders picked up from Locke was that the new government needed to be a limited government that had constraints that it could never violate. Who sees a big bully government as a friend?
In the President's Inaugural address, he warned us all that the days of big government are back. The Reagan years when individuals were given the opportunity to excel in life without government constraints are over. The president used the word collective to describe his new norm. In days past the collective or the commune was an intrinsic part of another notion known as communism. Just as collectivism, this too did not affirm individual rights.
We have all heard of communism and group-think, with the group of leaders at the top doing all the thinking. In such systems, the people are tricked into thinking we all have rights but individuals in these systems, have no rights. This is not the government our founders chose for us, no matter what the President may think. Be wary. Pay attention.
Primary among the constraints of our limited government was that the new government would be prohibited from ever becoming a dictatorship. Our government would always be based on the consent of the governed, not of some mythical despot or any other non-democratic feel good notion such as group-think. The representation aspect of our constitutional representative democratic republic provides for this protection. The connotation for this can be translated as: "Of the people, for the people, and by the people." I do keep asking myself after the November 2012 elections, "Do the people really care?... Do the people really get it?"
The founders had no implicit trust that any government would consistently do the right thing, and so, from Locke, the founders picked up the idea that governments must provide laws so that people know well in advance whether their behavior would be acceptable. This is why we are a republic. Our basic laws are imbedded in the Constitution.
The Constitution limits our representative leaders in the laws they may bring forth. These limits of behavior, known as laws are framed in our Constitution but more importantly; this same document limits the powers of government in affecting people's lives. Too bad our President and our Congress choose to not act properly regarding these long served principles of limited government. An informed populace would not let government get away with what it does. So, again, my exhortation: "Pay attention!"
Additionally, the founders abhorred the thought of government taking any person's property without his or her consent. Ask yourself where the distributive nature of the current administration fits in with this. Where does it get its authority to steal from one person to give to another? No such authority exists in the Constitution. The laws of which Locke speaks were provided in Jefferson's Declaration of Independence and by our Constitution as our founders directed its purpose: "in order to form a more perfect union."
From 1777, during the Revolution, the Articles of Confederation had been the guiding principles for our nation. The Articles were fully ratified by 1781. Though well written, they were not done well enough for the founders' liking. Enduring until September 17, 1787, the Articles were all the country had to go by. They were the rules of the Republic. However, after three months of debate, moderated by Convention President George Washington, the newly written U.S. Constitution was brought forth. Think of how difficult bringing a new nation forward must have been for patriots such as Washington.
In its preamble, the words, "in order to form a more perfect union," were chosen, because the founders were indeed pleased that they had forged the US government using the Articles of Confederation. Yet, they all knew the Articles did not do the full job and they acknowledged that even this new instrument was not perfect. The Constitution was designated as more perfect, but the implication was that it too still was not "perfect."
And so, this new set of rules called a Constitution created a strong federal government with an intricate system of checks and balances so that America could endure even through times such as now, when presidents and / or congresses would behave in ways that are unpatriotic, and in many ways, anti-American.
The major strength of course in the federal government is that the states have all the power other than those expressly enumerated in the Constitution for the central government. From this comes the notion of a limited central government, which we often call the Federal Government in Washington. The new 1787 Constitution of the United States was signed by 38 of the 41 delegates, who were present at the conclusion of the convention.
Article VII presented the stiffest constraint to the adoption of the document as the law of the land. The Constitution would not become binding until it was ratified by nine of the thirteen colonies which were to become the thirteen United States.
With many more states in the Union, today, Thirty-eight states would be required for the US to ever again hold another Constitutional Convention. Though it is a good idea to have such a convention so that the decisions of the Supreme Courts, many of which have been off the mark over our 237 years, can be reversed and that we can gain good laws or precepts to bind our future as a republic, there are major risks in so doing.
As noted in a prior Conservative Action Alerts essay of mine and others, the US no longer has a free press, and any changes to anything in government more than likely will be presented to the people from the corrupt press's biased leftist view. This influential biased press has very powerful speakers who are good enough to convince one neighbor that it is required to give another neighbor his property, and to be thankful for the opportunity.
With Republicans not being brave enough to tie their own shoes in public, I think a new Constitutional Convention would be devastating for the conservative cause without a Conservative Party per se. From my perspective, the Republicans as a force against progressivism have simply given up. They have failed and all of these RINOs need to be replaced by conservatives in primary elections. Despite their shameful performance, the RINOS will shamelessly again ask for your vote. We can do better but let's talk about that another day.
The corrupt press and the socialists in control of our government are excellent at chicanery and deceit. And, so I caution citizens of the US that before we think a Constitutional Convention will bring us relief, please think about who just got elected President, and think about the notion of the convention changing term limits to give the new president an unlimited term of office. Would our President like to change the Union into an oligarchy or a dictatorship with the "free" press's full approval? We must pay attention so this can never happen! Send only brave-hearted conservatives to Washington.
When you see President Obama backing the notion of a Constitutional Convention, please do not cheer. Remember, his Attorney General ultimately determines and assures the proper functioning of all the voting machines.
To better understand the government of the United States of America, it would help us to review the notion of federalism as established and used in the Constitution. A federal type of government divides the powers between the national (federal) government and the state and local governments.
With federalism as a basis, each level of government has sovereignty in some areas and it shares powers in other areas. Federalism is the great hope of America as long as the states fight for their rights over the notion of a strong, all-powerful central government. A very limited central government is the key to freedom. The Constitution was set up for the states to hold the bulk of the power.
In a federalist system, both the federal and state governments have the power to tax. However, only the federal government can declare war. The founders' intent was to give all powers to the states and only those absolutely needed to the "central government." Today we find conflict between the states and the federal government on many issues.
Using the Constitution as a guide, in these instances, the federal government must back down or a free America as founded will be gone. But, the states must assert their power for this to happen. That is why AG Eric Holder is in court so often. The Federal government is trying to usurp the individual authority of the states while trying to build up the central government. This is not a good thing for America. It is unconstitutional, and the founders clearly have offered this opinion numerous times.
Thomas Jefferson, a brilliant man and a defender of individual rights v. kingly rights would be the lawyer I would ask to defend my abilities to function as a regular citizen in a dysfunctional America. It helps to remember that Jefferson noted that: "all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people." Thomas Jefferson rightfully was worried that those we choose as governors would one day choose to govern without our permission.
On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire signed up to become the ninth state to ratify the document known as the Constitution. Thus, the US was prepared to become a republic. It was subsequently agreed that government under the U.S. Constitution would begin on March 4, 1789. And, so on this day, the US government began with the new and hopefully everlasting Constitutional body of original laws as its guiding light.
Thus, the constitutional representative democratic republic form of federal government used in the US arises from a representative democracy. Adding the term constitutional to democracy for many makes the nation a republic for sure and it implies a number of structural points as follows:
The basic principles upon which the society of the United States of America operates
The institutional forms and processes of the U.S. government
The distribution of political authority among the major offices and institutions of the government
The resulting power relationships among these government offices and institutions
The notion of constitutionalism strengthens democracy and republicanism as it defines the underlying principles under which the structure is to operate. It clearly differs from other forms of government not chosen by our founding fathers, mentioned numerous times within this essay.
These unacceptable types of government as noted previously include monarchies, dictatorships and oligarchies—though many scholars today suggest that the US in practice, with the tacit acceptance of the political class and the governed, is becoming more of a de-facto oligarchy in which the few rule the many.
If the constituents (you and I) were paying attention, this would not have happened. It still is not too late for the people to make a comeback. We must alter the de-facto notion to keep our America more pure. And, so if this is the first time you heard this exhortation, it is time to be alerted and to begin to become active to keep the government "owned" by the people and not vice versa.
The evolution to a strong central government as has been directed by Obama and the White House staff, was clearly not the intention of the founding fathers in developing the outline for our constitutional democracy, which has worked so well for so many years. The more we Americans pay attention and take action based on our observations, the more likely America will remain the shining light on the hill and the bastion of freedom and of liberty across the world, regardless of who the temporary occupants of the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue happen to be.