On Sept. 17, we celebrated the 226th anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution, the oldest written constitution of any national government in the world. In six pages, the constitutional convention delegates organized a nation in which both civil government and those governed would be subject to and equally protected by the law. Understanding that government can be the enemy of liberty, our founders crafted a document that sets forth an enduring framework of limited government, provided that we understand its foundational principles and demand that those in power once again adhere to it.
Historically unique, the United States was established on the ideal that men are created equal and in the image of God, Who granted them certain unalienable rights. Our founding documents reflect a reliance on God and understanding that authority flows from Him. Our founders understood that rights granted by God cannot be taken away by man but that rights from man can be. Thus, the U.S. Constitution serves as the supreme law of the land, structuring a civil government that protects those unalienable rights, not claims or controls them. In fact, it is the ultimate standard by which civil government and its actions are to be measured.
In business terms, the preamble of the Constitution serves as a mission statement. The rest of the document and the Bill of Rights set forth the objectives, policies and procedures to achieve the mission, namely structuring a system for securing liberty while ensuring that its powers are limited by defining and distributing them among three branches of government and incorporating checks and balances for accountability.
Essential to the Constitution are the principles of representation and consent of the governed, separation of powers, federalism or the relationship between federal and state sovereignty, and a supreme law that limits the exercise of sovereign authority. Also important, the Constitution includes a process for amendment meant to ensure that the people from whom it derives its authority consent to any changes. It does not contemplate change by executive order, ordinary legislation, or judicial fiat.
Until the early 20th century, most leaders understood that an ordered society required balancing the authority and consent of the governed with individuals’ natural rights of life, liberty, property and the protection of each from government. That changed with the election of FDR. He set the stage for pitting group rights over individual rights, valuing classes of people over individuals. Evading the Constitution and its inherent Amendment process and under the guise of promoting economic recovery, he significantly expanded federal government intrusion into most areas of life. This departure from the Constitution allowed civil government to begin reshaping society according to the whims of those in power rather than allowing individuals the liberty to shape their own lives.
With a tortured interpretation of the Constitution and Congressional abdication of its legislative authority, a shift in power to the executive and judicial branches of government began to take place. Administrative agencies now have legislative, executive and judicial power. Courts now claim authority to create rights and legislate. Presidents now ignore the law without consequence. Impotent states now scrap for crumbs thrown from the federal trough to those who bow.
Historically, people lived under laws made by the dictates of men through force or fraud. In separating the rule of law from the men in power at any particular point in time, the U.S. Constitution changed that. Often ignoring the principles, institutions, and rules of civil government it established, today’s leaders have regressed.
As the ultimate authority of civil government, the people have also regressed. With rights come responsibilities, and we have a choice. We can idly sit while an illegitimate concentration and distribution of unbridled power leads us to a path of destruction from within. Or, we can fight to reclaim our heritage of a limited civil government that gave rise to the most prosperous nation in history, recognizing that people exercising their God-given rights – not government – best determine the course of their own lives.
Tina J. Benkiser, J.D.
Attorney & Counselor at Law
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There are only two rackets in the United States. The first is the "Save the Country" racket, and the second is the "Empower the People" racket. Both rackets were invented by totally selfish opportunists.
All arguments over the body polity in the United States is always between these two rackets.
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Our founding fathers knew a thing or two about government oppression. While establishing the foundations for this great country, they deliberated at great length the pros and cons of other government systems that they knew about from their history lessons and tried to draw the best parts of each one.
They did everything in their power to put a system of checks and balances in place to control the power hungry, because they knew that men (and women) are prone to greed and selfishness, and seek their own good at the expense of others. They knew that without men of integrity in office those defenses would fail.
A few public schools were even started to train the common man in Biblical morality and also to teach them how to think critically about the issues and to know their rights and civic responsibilities. Many of our founding fathers, as well as those first teachers, were the clergy. It was their desire to defend liberty and end oppression....did they do it perfectly? No, but I think they were onto something mighty good.
As a nation, we are failing to put people in office who are honest, wise and truly servants of the people. I too have voted for the "lesser evil" and it's a shame that our choices for good candidates are so limited. Most of us have no idea how to "save the country", but I suspect that it begins in our own families and circles of influence.
I choose to not wring my hands with worry though, because I have a friendship with the One Who is not surprised or distressed by any of these problems.