Posted by: reformedmusings | August 8, 2010

Consent of the governed

I came across an awesome essay by Bojidar Marinov, a Bulgarian and Reformed missionary as well as co-founder of the Bulgarian Society for Individual Liberty. He titled it, appropriately, Consent vs. Compliance. This is a must read for all who value the liberty we used to enjoy here in the U.S.A.

Mr. Marinov’s title refers to the preamble of the U.S. Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Nota bene that our unalienable rights come from our Creator, not human governments. Also note that the role of government is to secure these rights, not grant them (which God has already done), and that the government derives its just powers from the people, not an elite ruling class of Harvard, et al, graduates.

Derived from the foundation laid in our Declaration, the Constitution grants a very limited roles/duties to the federal government. Contrary to modern liberals’ interpretation, the Bill of Rights limits the power of that government, not the people, enumerating some of the unalienable rights of the people: freedom to choose and practice their religion, freedom to speak their minds, freedom to keep and bear arms to preserve their liberty, freedom from gross imposition of a despotic government through illegal quartering, search or seizure of their property, self-incrimination, etc. In fact, this limiting of the federal government is made explicit in the all-to-often neglected preamble to the Bill of Rights:

The Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution [my bold]

The Ninth Amendment lays out the very limited role of the federal government and expression of the all-encompassing rights of the people:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

and the Tenth Amendment caps it off:

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.

Liberals and socialists fear these amendments along with the Second because they clearly delineate the limitation of their beloved big government.

Bojidar Marinov’s essay explains very clearly why this is and the only way it can work. Further, the Second Amendment lays at the core of preserving our liberty, as James Madison pointed out in Federalist #46:

Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. [my bold]

And so it is to this day, going beyond firearms all the way to pocket knives. As you consider Mr. Marinov’s essay on the source of liberty and the difference between European thought and government, remember this quote by James Madison from the Federalist Papers.

Thomas Jefferson, of whom modern liberals express fondness, believed just the opposite of what the ACLU and other leftists would have us believe. Against the “living Constitution” wax nose theory of liberals like Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomeyer and Kagan who try to steal our wealth and freedom by twisting our Constitution against the peo0ple, Jefferson wisely observed:

Free government is founded in jealousy, not confidence.  It is jealousy and not confidence which prescribes limited constitutions, to bind those we are obliged to trust with power…. In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in men, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution. [my bold]

As Wendell Phillips once said:

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

Echoed in Wayne LaPierre’s follow-up over a century later:

Freedom is never an achieved state; like electricity, we’ve got to keep generating it or the lights go out.

I close with a wise observation from Thomas Paine, a firebrand of our American Revolution:

The greatest tyrannies are always perpetrated in the name of the noblest causes.

Obamacare, anyone?

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