Saturday, December 27, 2008

What is the Constitution to me?

The constitution is a simple document, but it means many things to many people. This is what it means to me, along with documentation of why I believe so.

The Constitution is simply a civil contract between three parties, a particular state, the people of that state, and all other states. It did not provide punishments for its violation, as a civil contract could not do so. In effect, the Constitution established a new party that oversaw the other three, and ceded specific powers from the states to that federal government. These powers allowed limited legislation, as well as the execution of that legislation, and its interpretation.

According to the original documentation and argument, the Constitution was designed to be very limiting. The people at the time had suffered quite enough at the hands of despots and tyrants, and had no wish to bring in new hands to control them. They had recognized the dangers of the manipulation of money under the Bank of England, and thus chose to use gold and silver as a standard. They had recognized the danger of not having a standing military, but feared the military itself. The discussions on this subject were often full of vitriol and anger. Thus the government had to be limited more, in order to prevent the misuse of these powers.

The government did not establish rights, nor did the constitution. According to the people of the time, and the philosophy of the time, those rights pre-existed the constitution from British common law, from the Magna Carta, and from God himself. They were therefore forever outside of the venue and powers of government. This is part of the reason why there was no bill of rights in the Constitution as it was written.

The argument was that anything not written in the Constitution would be outside of the powers of government. The government therefore could not do anything it was not explicitly granted, and further could do nothing that it was explicitly prohibited from. The bonds on government were designed to be strong, to limit the power there to preserve the liberties of the people.

There are several 'basic' rights, the right of liberty, life, and property, as well as that of the pursuit of happiness. It was felt by Alexander Hamilton that the listing of such rights would actually be detrimental, as it would imply by their listing that the government may have the power to limit them, as well as distracting the people from the rights that were so voluminous that they could never be enumerated.

The constitution does not establish rights. It simply recognizes them. The Founding Fathers had studied John Locke, and the Lockseyan model of rights, as well as Blackstone, and many other philosophers of the past. They'd studied Rome, Greece, and had the advantage of being able to start over with a nearly clean slate. When Shay's Rebellion ushered in the awareness of the impotence of the Articles of Confederation, a convention was called to amend the Articles... and the Constitution was the ultimate result.

Our Constitution is a contract, deliberately limiting the powers of the government and of the states, and setting out their duties, their offices, and the nature of the government itself. Our government is limited to only ten square miles of Federal land.... the District of Columbia.

Our government is prohibited from removing Habeas Corpus rights from the people, except in the most dire of emergencies of insurrection and rebellion.

Our government is prohibited from legislation that removes the rights of the people without trial, making laws that make actions illegal or provide punishment or consequence after the fact, or making a taint from the parent pass to the children. (corruption of blood).

I look back into the past and see many parts of history, the tools that led us to where we are currently, and weep that so few ever read the histories, not just what you are presented in school, but those histories that are found on dusty library shelves, in journals, and diaries. One must be cautious to compare them, and to try to eliminate the personal bent that exists in all writings.

It provides a quite different view of the nature of our government. Our rights pre-exist the government, and were never provided by it. Our rights exist, not because of the government, but in spite of it. The government cannot create rights, but only attempt to destroy them.

The Boston Journal of the Times in 1769 wrote an article on the right of the people to keep and bear arms, saying it was a pre-existing right. Indeed, the Militia Act of 1792 provided for the arming of the militia out of their own pockets... every able-bodied male citizen of the United States was ordered by writ to have, and maintain the best military weapon that they could afford, to provide powder and ball, and to be proficient in their use, to prevent the tyranny of a newly-established Federal military.

John Locke felt that there were only a few things that could destroy a free people. One was to have public education that was government funded. One was to have a standing military that was stronger than the might of the people. The third... was inaction of those very people, disinterest in their rights and ignorance of their meaning.

Ultimately, as was intended in the preamble to the Bill of Rights, but destroyed in that Article 5 Constitutional convention, the powers of government are derived from the people, and it is their right, when they believe that those powers are being used in ways detrimental to their well-being to alter or abolish them, by whatever means their conscience sees fit.

All rights are retained by the people. All powers are derived from the people, and all governments stand... or fall by the love of their people. Fear not only leads to tyranny, it is a symptom of tyranny. When we cannot defend ourselves.. we are already a good distance toward that ignoble goal.

When we cannot speak, we are already on our way to slavery. When we cannot believe, cannot worship, cannot meet, cannot even petition for the redress of grievances... we are already there. Is it necessary to wait until the chains are already upon us? Is it a good thing to cling to that siren of hope, until our enemies have bound us hand and foot?

Hope is an illusion. It will, as Patrick Henry said, prove a snare to your feet. Our hope lies in the re-establishment of that Constitution, as it was intended in the beginning, for a limited government, and a powerful people. The people cannot simultaneously be subjects of the government, and the owners of the government. It is a logical fallacy to claim that the government can own us, while we control it.

It is equally a fallacy to claim that the Constitution established rights... as the Constitution only established a government and limited it. The rights existed before the government, and were forever to be outside of its powers.

You might ask yourself if the government might have transgressed its powers over your rights. The right to liberty... to no undue government interference. The right to life, to have your body under your sole control, to not be forced by a government into surgical procedures, experimentation, sterilization, or death. The right to property: The very right to maintain a home, land, and goods. The right to the pursuit of happiness... all rights limited by the rights of others.

We will never have a perfect society. We will never be without crime. The Supreme Court has judged us to have no 'right' to police protection, which leaves our protection, as it always was, in our own hands. If we have no right to police protection, no right to protect ourselves, then who is protected?

None but those outside the law.

1 comment:

Avendora said...

A cry goes out across the land to bring about restoration. Few head the call. Those that do, are considered either madmen ranting and raving, or criminals of one form or another.

Our Government seeks to enslave us to it's picture of the way society should behave. They wish us to be small and week. But American's, of all ages, races, and times, have NEVER stood for weekness. Allways have we stood for what is right. Never have we backed down from the fight when injustice is being done. It is the American way to stand up to the oppressor.

Are you American?