Essential Liberty (Part 2)
“[W]here is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation deserts the oaths…?” –George Washington
Publisher’s Note: This essay is the second of a two-part seminal treatise on constitutional Rule of Law. (Read: “Essential Liberty Part 1.”) This essay is published as the introduction to our Essential Liberty Project Constitution booklets. The mission of the Essential Liberty Project is to support the restoration of constitutional integrity and Rule of Law. Our objective is to distribute millions of Essential Liberty booklets to students, grassroots organizations, civic clubs, political alliances, military and public service personnel, professional associations, etc. As a primer on Liberty, “endowed by their Creator” as our Founders codified in the Declaration of Independence, and by extension, in our U.S. Constitution, these pocket guides are an outstanding resource for Patriots of all ages. Please support the printing and distribution of these Liberty guides, and purchase them for your own distribution from The Patriot Post Shop. Visit the official page of the Essential Liberty Project for more information and find more resources on Liberty on our Rule of Law pages.
“A republic, if you can keep it”
“Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” –Benjamin Franklin
At the close of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Ben Franklin was asked if the delegates had formed a republic or a monarchy. “A republic,” he responded, “if you can keep it.”
To that end, as a warning for future generations to beware of “cunning, ambitious and unprincipled men,” George Washington wrote, “A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position.”
Daniel Webster wrote, “Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the People against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”
Ominously, Alexander Hamilton noted, “Of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the People, commencing demagogues and ending tyrants.”
John Adams observed, “Is the present state of the national republic enough? Is virtue the principle of our government? Is honor? Or is ambition and avarice, adulation, baseness, covetousness, the thirst for riches, indifference concerning the means of rising and enriching, the contempt of principle, the spirit of party and of faction the motive and principle that governs?”
Adams also wrote that sustaining these principles was dependent on the wisdom of the people, noting, “There is in human nature a resentment of injury, and indignation against wrong, a love of truth and a veneration of virtue … if the people are capable of understanding, seeing and feeling the differences between true and false, right and wrong, virtue and vice.”
On the necessity of wisdom and reason, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the spot of every wind. With such persons, gullability takes the helm from the hand of reason and the mind becomes a wreck.”
Should such reason fail to sustain the Liberty enshrined in our Constitution, Adams cautioned, “A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”
Unfortunately, and at the expense of our Liberty, the Constitution has suffered generations of “cunning, ambitious and unprincipled” politicians and judges whose successors now recognize only vestiges of its original intent for governance. Consequently, constitutional Rule of Law has been weakened by those who have failed to abide by their sacred oaths to “support and defend” the same.
As the erosion of constitutional authority undermines individual Liberty, it likewise undermines economic Liberty, and the primary instrument of that erosion is taxation and regulation.
Our Founders were uniformly concerned about government power to lay and collect taxes, most notably direct taxation of income, and, accordingly, enumerated specific limitations on taxing and spending.
James Madison addressed the issue of unlimited spending, and warned that misconstruction of “[T]he power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States,” would result in “an unlimited commission to exercise every power which may be alleged to be necessary for the common defence or general welfare.”
To ensure that federal taxation would be limited to these constraints, [Article I, Section 8](https://patriotpost.us/documents/82), Clause 1 of our Constitution (the “Taxing and Spending Clause”), as duly ratified in 1789, defined the “Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises,” but Section 8 required that such, “Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.” This, in effect, limited the power of Congress to impose direct taxes on individuals, as further outlined in Section 9: “No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.”
That constitutional limitation survived until 1861, when the first income tax was imposed to defray Union costs of the War Between the States. That three-percent tax on incomes over $800 was sold as an emergency war measure. In 1894, congressional Democrats tested the Constitution again, passing a peacetime tax of two percent on income above $4,000. A year later, that tariff was overturned by the Supreme Court as not complying with the limitations set forth in Article 1.
However, the most devastating insult to economic Liberty was dealt by the father of American socialism, Woodrow Wilson, who was elected due to his mastery of [classist rhetoric](https://patriotpost.us/pages/306) as outlined by Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto in the mid-19th century. Wilson used that rhetoric to gain rapid passage of the [Sixteenth Amendment](https://patriotpost.us/alexander/3034) in 1913, which specified, “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”
“From whatever source derived” indeed.
The top tax rate levied under the new Amendment was seven percent on incomes above $500,000, but today, almost every individual with an income of $25,000 or more (less than $1,000 in 1914 dollars) is taxed. If Wilson had attempted to impose his tax on incomes of $1,000, a second American Revolution would have commenced immediately. But like most usurpations of Liberty, the income tax levy has avoided insurrection by incremental imposition on ever-broader income groups over the last century.
James Madison warned, “There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the People by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
The Sixteenth Amendment has been used to enact unequal and discriminatory taxation of targeted groups of income classes, “progressive” taxation as it is known, which has resulted in classism and the bulwark of all socialist movement’s “class warfare” agenda. It opened the floodgates for populist executives and legislators to enact taxes for expenditures not expressly authorized by our Constitution, and thus, the end of constitutionally limited government and the empowerment of the rule of men.
Notably, however, the construction of the Sixteenth Amendment notwithstanding, Article I, Section 9, of our Constitution assures that “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed” which would single out individuals or minority groups for undue punishment. Thus, it should be argued that targeting certain classes of income earners constitutes a Bill of Attainder, which should disqualify all but the even distribution of taxation by way of a flat tax across the board.
The most reckless of the populist class warfare provocateurs in the 20th century was Franklin D. Roosevelt, ironically, a wealthy aristocrat. At the onset of the Great Depression, he instituted a plethora of policies which further challenged constitutional limits on our government, the cost of which would, today, threaten our nation’s economic solvency.
FDR’s economic and social solutions were shaped by his upbringing as an “inheritance welfare liberal” (those raised dependent on inheritance rather than self-reliance). He used the Great Depression as cover to redefine and expand the role of central government via countless extra-constitutional decrees, and he expanded Wilson’s program for redistribution of wealth in order to fund such folly.
Roosevelt proclaimed, “Here is my principle: Taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay. That is the only American principle.”
If that language sounds somehow familiar, it is because his “American principle” is essentially a paraphrase of Karl Marx’s communist maxim, “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.”
Roosevelt’s “principles” had no basis in Rule of Law or the principles of free enterprise, and consequently, his New Deal policies and programs set the standard for extra-constitutional government expansion funded by wealth redistribution under what is the central government’s most oppressive weapon: The U.S. Tax Code.
Chief Justice John Marshall wrote, it in McCulloch v. Maryland (1819): “An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy; because there is a limit beyond which no institution and no property can bear taxation.”
But a century later under Wilson, government began to nibble around the edges. Today, it gobbles wholesale.
The net effect of this expansion was and remains the abject violation of our Constitution’s [Article Ten](https://patriotpost.us/alexander/3121) “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The resulting corruption of constitutional Rule of Law has propagated a perilous assault on Liberty.
The Rise of Statism and the Welfare State
“I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.” –Benjamin Franklin
The ability to impose direct taxes to support a welfare state was anathema to our Founders and the Liberty they fought so hard to secure for their posterity.
Of government welfare programs, Madison wrote, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents. … Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.”
Neither Article 1, Section 8 of our Constitution, nor its Sixteenth Amendment, gave Congress the authority to collect taxes for bailing out financial institutions, or subsidizing production or service sectors like health care, or to fund education and welfare, or to issue tens of thousands of earmarks for special interest “pork” projects. Nor is Congress authorized to institute countless conditions for the redistribution of wealth in its more than 75,000 pages and 4 million words of tax code alone, or to impose millions of regulations on everything from carbon emissions to toilet water volume.
So corrupt is this process of funding special interest groups in return for constituent votes, that it is now the greatest threat to our Constitution.
Put another way, a large percentage of income is confiscated by the government and redistributed for purposes not expressly authorized by our Constitution. Consequently, the liberal hegemony controlling the federal budget in the first decade of the 21st century saddled the nation with more government debt than all previous administrations combined, debt which obligates future generations for repayment.
Of such debt, Jefferson concluded, “The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” This debt burden most assuredly will, in the end, break the back of free enterprise and permanently replace it with the statist policies of Democratic Socialism.
However, historians and economists concur that Democratic Socialism, like Nationalist Socialism, is tantamount to Marxist Socialism repackaged. It seeks a centrally planned economy directed by a single-party state that controls economic production via regulation and income redistribution. All three socialist manifestations are formed around class warfare propaganda, and in opposition to free enterprise. As noted economist and philosopher F.A. Hayek wrote, “There is no difference in principle, between the economic philosophy of Nazism, socialism, communism, and fascism and that of the American welfare state and regulated economy.”
Our Founders' wisdom notwithstanding, at the dawn of the 21st century, more than 70 percent of the federal budget would be allocated for “objects of benevolence” for which there is no original constitutional authority. Despite claims to the contrary, the debt issue is not a government revenue problem but a government spending problem.
By the end of the first decade in the new millennium, taxes on the top 50 percent of income earners totaled almost 97 percent of government revenue, while some 40 percent of Americans bore virtually none of the cost of government. Much more ominous is the fact that almost 35 percent of Americans are now dependent upon redistributed wealth. Thus, they are predisposed to vote for those promising such redistribution of wealth rather than work for their own. Indeed, in the words of George Bernard Shaw, “A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”
Under siege of oppressive taxation, regulation and debt accumulation, can the Republic survive?
Can Liberty endure?
Principium Imprimis – Restoring First Principles
“In disquisitions of every kind there are certain primary truths, or first principles, upon which all subsequent reasoning must depend.” –Alexander Hamilton
If we are to bequeath to our posterity the Liberty that our Founders envisioned, then we must return to principium imprimis, or First Principles. Our freedoms cannot long endure unless we, the People, reaffirm what was well understood by our Founders: Liberty is “endowed by our Creator.” The primacy of faith must be protected in order to preserve the most fundamental conviction that, as Jefferson wrote, our “liberties are the gift of God” and not the gift of government.
We must be steadfast in our advocacy for individual rights and responsibilities, and demand the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary. We be tireless in our promotion of traditional American values, particularly those family values which are the cornerstone of democratic society. We must support free enterprise in order that all Americans can have opportunity for prosperity, and a strong national defense to protect our national interests.
The Cycle of Democracy has been summarized as follows: From bondage (rule of men) to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to Liberty (Rule of Law); From Liberty to abundance; From abundance to complacency; From complacency to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage (rule of men).
Our Founders established a democratic republic, not a democracy, in order to enfeeble this cycle. However, with the erosion of constitutional authority, our Republic is now in jeopardy of following the same cycle as have all other democracies in history. Only intervention by citizens and leaders who advocate the primacy of constitutional authority, those committed to supporting and defending that authority above their self-interest, can save the Republic for the next generation.
Irrevocably linked to the Liberty ensured by constitutional Rule of Law is economic Liberty.
In 1916 an outspoken advocate for Liberty, William J. H. Boetcker, published a tract entitled “The Ten Cannots.” It fittingly contrasts the competing political and economic agendas of the right and left in this era:
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence.
You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they will not do for themselves.
Simply put, the central government cannot give to anybody what it does not first take from somebody else.
Nineteenth-century historian Alexis de Tocqueville once observed, “Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.”
Tocqueville was commenting on liberty and free enterprise, American style, versus socialism as envisioned by emerging protagonists of centralized state governments. And he saw on the horizon a looming threat – a threat that would challenge the freedoms writ in the blood and toil of our nation’s Founders and generations since.
So what is a Patriot to do?
Extending our Legacy of Liberty to the Next Generation
“Contemplate the mangled bodies of your countrymen, and then say ‘what should be the reward of such sacrifices?’ … If ye love wealth better than Liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!” –Samuel Adams
Some of our countrymen are overwhelmed with the current state of our nation. They have resorted to fratricidal self-destruction among our ranks, or withdrawn from the fields of battle altogether. In so doing, they forsake the legacy of Liberty extended to them by generations of Patriots who have pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.
Of such resignation, Jefferson declared, “Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them if we basely entail hereditary bondage on them.”
On retreating from the defense of Liberty, Benjamin Franklin wrote, “They who can give up essential Liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither Liberty nor safety.”
George Washington warned, “Disorders and miseries…gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an Individual…(who) turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty … The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism… Let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.”
Patrick Henry said famously, “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me Liberty or give me death!”
Hamilton wrote, “A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one!”
On Patriotism, George Washington, in his Farewell Address, said, “Citizens by birth or choice of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. … Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indespensible supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness - these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.”
But Washington also warned, “Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.”
Plainly, none can claim the name “American Patriot” while passively submitting to laws and regulations that violate the most foundational tenets of our Constitution.
At its core, the word “Patriot” has direct lineage to those who fought for American independence and established our constitutional Republic. That lineage has descended through our history most conspicuously by way of those who have pledged “to Support and Defend” our Constitution – those who have been faithful to and have abided by their oaths, even unto death.
Those who can rightly claim the name Patriot in this era, men and women who have stood firm on the front lines of the struggle to restore constitutional integrity, are rightly encouraged by the grassroots groundswell of activism across the out nation in the past decade. Increasing numbers of our fellow countrymen are awakening to the serious threat of constitutional adulteration and its irrevocable terminus: tyranny.
The growing chorus of Patriot voices from every corner of the nation and all walks of life is demanding restoration of the Rule of Law as enshrined in our Constitution.
Today’s Patriots exemplify not only the eternal spirit of Liberty conferred through the ages by previous generations of Patriots, but also a spirit enlivened in recent history by a constitutional advocate who many historians regard as the greatest American president of the 20th century.
A Time for Choosing
“It is [the citizens] choice, and depends upon their conduct, whether they will be respectable and prosperous, or contemptable and miserable as a Nation. This is the time of their political probation; this is the moment when the eyes of the World are turned upon them.” –George Washington
Ronald Reagan, arguably the greatest president of the 20th century, was elected in 1980 on a platform of constitutional integrity and federalism, and he was devoted to that doctrine. He was re-elected on those principles four years later in a landslide victory – winning every state but his opponent’s home state (and, tellingly, the District of Columbia). Under his leadership, the nation’s slide into the socialist abyss was arrested.
In 1964, years before he had any presidential aspirations, Reagan delivered a treatise on Liberty, “A Time for Choosing,” which to this day appositely frames conservative philosophy.
In “The Speech,” as we know it, Reagan insisted, “I think it’s time we ask ourselves if we still know the freedoms that were intended for us by the Founding Fathers. … Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”
He continued: “You and I are told increasingly that we have to choose between a left or right, but I would like to suggest that there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down – up to a man’s age-old dream; the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order – or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism, and regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.”
Reagan departed the Democrat Party at the dawn of his political career, but clarified, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party; the Democratic Party left me.”
Consistent with that assertion, contemporary leaders of the once-noble “party of the People” have turned the wisdom of their iconic sovereigns upside down.
In his 1961 Inaugural Address, liberal John F. Kennedy proclaimed, “My fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
But now, his Party insists: “Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what your country can do for you.”
In his famous address from the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, liberal Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed, “I have a dream that my children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
But now, his Party insists: “I have a dream that my children will one day be judged by the color of their skin, not the content of their character.”
Some said President Reagan won broad support because he was a “great communicator,” but he said it more accurately in his farewell address: “I wasn’t a great communicator, but I communicated great things, and they didn’t spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation – from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in principles that have guided us for two centuries.”
The principles of Liberty advanced by President Reagan were, and remain, a template for victory over tyranny.
But our Legacy of Liberty is at risk today because most of the American people lack the most fundamental civic knowledge necessary to articulate the difference between Rule of Law and rule of men. The consequence of such perilous ignorance is the rise of a liberal hegemony in Washington, whose agenda is to achieve the objective of, according to their Party’s most recent leader, “fundamentally transforming the United States of America,” through the transformation of our economic system.
Thomas Jefferson warned, “I place economy among the first and most important virtues and public debt as the greatest dangers to be feared. … To preserve independence … we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. … [W]hen all government … shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another. … Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread. … The fore horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follow that, and in its turn wretchedness and oppression.”
Today, our economy is threatened by the enormous weight of mounting debt, and may eventually implode with much greater consequences than those of the Great Depression. The ensuing social crisis will likely result in government intervention under the pretense of “economic recovery,” structured to, ultimately, replace the last vestiges of free enterprise with a democratic socialist framework.
As Jefferson concluded, “We must make our election between economy and Liberty, or profusion and servitude.”
Alexander Hamilton wrote likewise, “No man in his senses can hesitate in choosing to be free, rather than a slave.”
Another Time for Choosing
“If men of wisdom and knowledge, of moderation and temperance, of patience, fortitude and perseverance, of sobriety and true republican simplicity of manners, of zeal for the honour of the Supreme Being and the welfare of the commonwealth; if men possessed of these other excellent qualities are chosen to fill the seats of government, we may expect that our affairs will rest on a solid and permanent foundation.” –Samuel Adams
Given that a plethora of actions, regulations and diktats by officers in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of our central government do not comport with the plain language and authority of our Constitution, it is clear that they have abandoned their “sacred oaths” to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” and to “bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”
Our Founders understood that the Rule of Law enshrined in our Constitution was the foundational guarantee to protect and sustain Liberty for their generation and that of their posterity. Consequently, they prescribed that all elected officials be bound by Sacred Oath to “support and defend” our Constitution.
For presidents, Article II, Section 1, specifies: “Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: ‘I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’”
Likewise Article VI, Clause 3 specifies: “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution.”
However, in the current era, many federal office holders have abandoned their oaths in deference to the expediency of redistributing wealth to their special interest constituencies, in order to ensure re-election. For certain, when the number of constituents who vote for their income and provisions outnumber those who work for their income and provisions, the Republic will be lost.
The time has come when we must inquire with a unified voice: If there is no explicit constitutional authority for the laws and regulations enacted by Congress and enforced by the central government, then by what authority do those entities lay and collect taxes to fund such laws and regulations? If they have no authority, does this then constitute “taxation without representation”? For dereliction, should they be duly prosecuted, one and all, for breach of oath to our Constitution and breach of trust with the American People? What should be the consequence of abandoning their sacred oaths “to support and defend” our Constitution?
Today, while the words “conservative” and “liberal” are ubiquitously used to describe political alliances, these words more essentially describe whether one advocates for Rule of Law or rule of men; the conservation of our Constitution as the Founders intended, or its liberal interpretation by progressive legislators and judicial activists.
As Reagan challenged, it is time for each of us to choose which of these we advocate and to fully understand the consequences of that choice. It is time for those of us who endorse the most basic tenets of our Republic, “That all men are created equal, that they are in fact ”endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,“ and "that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” to honor that heritage and set about the formidable task of restoring individual Liberty and constitutional limits upon the branches of our federal government.
The futility of debating policy matters must now yield to a more substantive national debate about constitutional authority and the First Principles of Liberty.
If we are to restore Liberty and the integrity of our Constitution, we must do so from the bottom up, a groundswell from the grassroots. Indeed, nothing great and enduring has ever been built from the top down. We must therefore start at the foundation, speaking with one disciplined, determined and unified voice toward one primary objective: the re-establishment of the Rule of Law.
If we are to succeed, we must understand our Constitution and the of Rule of Law it enshrines, and extend that understanding to others. If we are to turn back the rising tide of tyranny, it is important that every American Patriot, all who are committed to preserving our constitutional heritage and extending our legacy of Liberty to future generations, be able to articulate the difference between Rule of Law and rule of men.
Indeed, in this the third century since our foundational Declaration and Constitution were instituted, silent encroachments have resulted in a central government that is poised to dictate the terms of freedom and Liberty according to the decrees of men, and the threat of tyranny is imminent.
Though our Constitution provides the People with an authentic means for amendment, as prescribed in Article V, activist jurists and lawmakers have altered that founding convention well beyond any semblance of its original intent, using the courts, legislation and regulation to greatly expand the powers of the central government according to their dictates.
We must declare by all means that the scope of our government’s activities be constrained to the limits enumerated in our Constitution, understanding that this contraction will take courage and deliberation, and years of steadfast diligence. It will take time to undo generations of insult to Rule of Law. But undo this abomination we must, with determination, knowing that if we fail, and Rule of Law is overwhelmed by the rule of men, tyranny will, once again, prevail.
On July 4th, 1776, our Declaration of Independence was inaugurated as our nation’s supreme contract proclaiming the unalienable Rights of Man. It asserted, “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.” Our Declaration’s principal author, Thomas Jefferson, wrote, “The tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. … Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.” On the signing of the Declaration, John Adams noted, “I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration…”
While one prays that Liberty will be restored and extended to our posterity by way of spirited rebellion manifested in ballots not bullets, history does not favor such prospects. But the beauty of our Constitutional Republic is that an informed electorate can reverse the trends toward tyranny by way of ballot.
Founder Patrick Henry wrote of seemingly benign encroachments upon Liberty, “It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth – and listen to the song of that syren… For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it might cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.”
It is time to fully object to the degraded state of our Constitution and reject any further degradation by way of “illusions of hope” that this offenses to our Liberties will resolve i. It is the responsibility of our generation of Patriots to provide for its revitalization, in the spirit of Thomas Paine’s 1776 assertion, “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.” So it should be in our day.
As the means for restoring the integrity of our Constitution are weighed, in regard to a “Constitutional Convention” for amendment, caveat emptor. In this day of mass communications (mass manipulations), there may be severe unintended consequences in convening a Convention.
Here, we propose an alternative, a “Constitutional Confederation” of the states, an alliance of states whose delegations could assemble to re-affirm the authority of our Constitution, in effect, re-ratify it and the Rule of Law it enshrines.
Article IV, Section 4 prescribes with no ambiguity, “The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government…” A Confederation of States should demand no less than the Federalist standard prescribed by our Constitution and affirmed in its Tenth Amendment.
Ronald Reagan said, “There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right. … You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.”
Liberty or Tyranny?
“[T]he citizens of the United States are responsible for the greatest trust ever confided to a political society. If justice, good faith, honor, gratitude and all the other qualities which ennoble the character of a nation and fulfill the ends of government be the fruits of our establishments, the cause of Liberty will acquire a dignity and lustre, which it has never yet enjoyed, and an example will be set, which cannot but have the most favourable influence on the Rights on Mankind. If on the other side, our governments should be unfortunately blotted with the reverse of these cardinal and essential virtues, the great cause which we have engaged to vindicate, will be dishonored and betrayed; the last and fairest experiment in favor of the Rights of human nature will be turned against them; and their patrons and friends exposed to be insulted and silenced by the votaries of tyranny and usurpation.” –James Madison
The cause of, and necessity for, the American Revolution was the violation of fundamental Rights endowed by the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God. Unjust taxation was the catalyst for the first American Revolution and the attempt to disarm the People resulted in the “shot heard ‘round the world.”
Once again, the irrevocable “Rights of Man,” are being violated, and that encroachment is sustained by wealth confiscation and redistribution, and regulation, for purposes not expressly authorized by our Constitution. As was the case at the dawn the American Revolution, taxes and regulations are the catalysts for undermining our rights. Liberty is not secure for us, or our posterity, if the legislature institutes regulations, collects taxes and accumulates insurmountable obligations of debt, to support government expenditures and agendas that are clearly outside the limits of our Constitution’s endorsement.
Consequently, our nation approaches the precipice of insolvency, and the bill is coming due. It will most certainly be repaid in the currency of tyranny unless Liberty and the Rule of Law prevail.
Our Constitution, as written and ratified, stipulates in its preface that it is “ordained and established” by the People to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” But, the incremental revocation of our capacity to defend ourselves from encroachments on our rights, has greatly diminished our capacity to secure those blessing now, and for future generations.
“We, the People of the United States,” must demand that members of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of the federal government, abide by their sworn oaths to “support and defend” our Constitution as mandated in Article II and Article VI. Indeed, they are obliged by oath to act within the constraints of the Rule of Law set forth in our Constitution by its Framers and as ratified by the People. The enforcement of regulations, the collection of taxes and accumulation of debt for expenditures, which have no express constitutional authorization, is in violation of our Constitution and, thus, the oaths of those sworn to uphold it as the Supreme Law of the land.
“Representation” does not exist where there is no assurance that elected representatives will abide by their oaths to obey Rule of Law. As George Washington observed, “[W]here is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation deserts the oaths…?” Those representatives who undertake unlawful expenditures of federal treasury funds as an instrument to perpetuate their re-election by special interest constituencies, whose allegiance is secured with confiscated and redistributed wealth, betray their oaths and commit great insult to our Constitution and Liberty.
The time has come that all American Patriots must, “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor,” as we endeavor to restore Rule of Law and our Constitution’s limits on the central government. As the 18th century English statesman Edmund Burke, who supported the American Revolution, said of complacency and indifference, “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”
Fellow Patriots, at the dawn of the fight for American Liberty, Thomas Paine wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” And so it is today.
The cause of, and necessity for the American Revolution, was the violation of fundamental Rights endowed by the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God. Unjust taxation and the government’s endeavor to disarm the People was the catalyst for the first American Revolution and the “shot heard 'round the world.”
That being said, this treatise on Liberty is not a call for revolution but for restoration – to undertake whatever measures are dictated by prudence and necessity to restore the integrity and primacy of our Constitution and the Liberty it enshrines.
Be encouraged by these timeless words from George Washington when it appeared the first American Revolution for Liberty might fail: “We should never despair. Our situation before has been unpromising and has changed for the better, so I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new exertions and proportion our efforts to the exigency of the times.” Remember the words of Samuel Adams: “Let us consider, brethren, we are struggling for our best birthrights and inheritance… Let us disappoint the Men who are raising themselves on the ruin of this Country.”
Fellow Patriots, we are sons and daughters from all walks of life, heirs to the greatest legacy of Liberty in history, bequeathed to us at great cost of blood and treasure by our Patriot forebears. We are not defined by race, creed, ethnicity, religion, education, wealth, geography or political affiliation, but by our devotion to the endowment of Liberty entrusted to us, one and all.
Make it known far and wide that we remain steadfast in our duty to extend the legacy of Liberty enshrined in our Declaration and Constitution, to the next generation, and upon our sacred honor we affirm that obligation. We will make no peace with any measure of oppression.
Finally, hold fast to these words of encouragement from Ronald Reagan: “America’s best days are yet to come. Our proudest moments are yet to be. Our most glorious achievements are just ahead.”
Indeed they are!
Pro Deo et Constitutione – Libertas aut Mors
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis
(Alexander is Publisher of The Patriot Post and Founder of The Essential Liberty Project)
Publisher’s Note: If this essay has inspired you to action, then I invite you to purchase our Declaration and Constitution booklets from The Patriot Post Shop.
The mission of the Essential Liberty Project is to support the restoration of constitutional integrity and Rule of Law. Our objective is to distribute millions of Essential Liberty booklets to students, grassroots organizations, civic clubs, political alliances, military and public service personnel, professional associations, etc. As a primer on Liberty, “endowed by their Creator” as our Founders codified in the Declaration of Independence, and by extension, in our U.S. Constitution, these pocket guides are an outstanding resource for Patriots of all ages. Please support the printing and distribution of these Liberty guides, and purchase them for your own distribution from The Patriot Post Shop. Visit the official page of the Essential Liberty Project for more information and find more resources on Liberty on our Rule of Law pages.