Thursday, July 24, 2008

The First Great Lie of American Politics

In my last post, I spoke about the American Experiment, which I described as an experiment in self-governance. And while some may define democracy as self-governance, I disagree. The idea of self-governance is that the people are basically free to do as the want, as long as they do not interfere to greatly in the lives of others. I also said that the people of America are the overseers of this experiment. And like any good overseers, from time to time, we must stop and ask an important question. Just what is the status of the experiment? When I take a look around at the whole of America, my overall summation is 'not to good.' Judging from consistently reported polls, it would seem that my summation is generally shared.
But what then, is the source of the troubles? Why is it that so many things seem to be going wrong? While I have no doubts that there are a myriad of sources for the troubles, but there are some causes which have a much greater effect. I find there are two major ideas which not only cause some of the troubles we find ourself today, but they are also core misconceptions from which other sources of our troubles arise. I call them the Two Great Lies of American Politics. I will discuss the first here.
The First Great Lie of American Politics is that we, the people, have constitutional rights. I know that even thinking that can cause people to become worried. Don't we want to have constitutional rights? Isn't it these rights that protect us governmental abuse? Aren't these rights the very bedrock of our country and society?
As to these rights being the bedrock of our country and society, and our protection against government abuse, then yes, they are. But they are not constitutional. For a right to be constitutional, it must be given or created by the Constitution itself. No, our rights as people are not constitutional, they are inherent. The Declaration states that some truths are self-evident, and that 'All Men are Created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain, inalienable rights, which amongst these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness' (emphasis mine). The framers of the Constitution understood that the three rights mentioned in the Declaration were only the start. They knew this because they were there when the Declaration was written, and they knew for what they went to war.
Indeed, an inherent right is far more powerful than any mere constitutional right. When Jefferson penned the immortal words of the Declaration, he told us the source of our rights. When a right is given to us, endowed upon us at birth, then what agency of Man can contain it? By right can any government limit it? Force onto us any restrictions? There is the power of the inherent right. And this is why it is so important that we, as Americans, recognize the lie that is the people's constitutional rights. No, it is government that has constitutional rights. The rights of the government are created by the constitution, and are given over to it to ensure a free and just society.
It's not hard to find the proof of this concept. You don't even need to compare our Constitution to others in the world. You can compare it to itself and see the difference.
Consider the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances
And compare to the Sixteenth:
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.
Or to the first clause of the Eighth Section of the First Article, respecting the powers of Congress:
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
Throughout the Constitution this language is used. When respecting a right of the people, that right is assumed to exist. Only rights given to the government are expressed as such. Only Congress 'shall' have a power. A right of the people 'shall not be infringed.' This difference is very strong, and it clearly shows that the rights of the people are inherent, and not constitutional.

Recently, reading a published article by Michael Medved, I learned that he is in the process of publishing a book titled 'The Ten Big Lies About America.' Despite the similarity in titles, I am not a listener of Medved's radio show. Any similarity is strictly coincidental.

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