“Bind Him Down from Mischief by the Chains of the Constitution”

“ In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” Thomas Jefferson

russellkirk1For those of us who love individual liberty, free-markets and limited government, we face each day, burdened, with more news of the march toward socialism and the destruction of the principles of constitutionalism. The principles, upon which this nation were founded, are being discarded for the failed elitist theories of socialism.

I believe, however, that the move, by the current administration, toward a centralized, messianic government, does not reflect the will of the majority of the American people nor does it reflect the intent of the Framers of the Constitution.

We must be reminded, then, by what authority government operates and what limits the Framers of the Constitution intended to impose on government? Russell Kirk explains, in his excellent book, “The American Cause,” writing,

“The constitutions of the American commonwealth are intended – and have successfully operated – to restrain political power: to prevent any person or clique or party from dominating permanently the government of the country. Sir Henry Maine, the nineteenth-century historian of law, remarked that the American Constitution is the great political achievement of modern times. The American constitutional system reconciles popular government with private and local rights. It has been called “filtered democracy” – that is, the reign of public opinion chastened and limited by enduring laws, political checks and balances, and representative institutions. It combines stability with popular sovereignty.

It is one of the great premises of American political theory that all just authority comes form the people, under God: not from a monarch or a governing class, but from the innumerable individuals who make up the public. The people delegate to government only so much power as they think is prudent for government to exercise; they reserve to themselves all the powers and rights that are not expressly granted to the federal or state or local governments. Government is the creation of the people, not their master. Thus the American political system, first of all, is a system of limited, delegated powers, entrusted to political officers and representatives and leaders for certain well-defined public purposes. Only through the recognition of this theory of popular sovereignty, and only through this explicit delegation of powers, the founders of the American Republic believed, could be the American nation keep clear of tyranny or anarchy. The theory and the system have succeeded: America never has endured a dictator or tolerated violent social disorder.

I firmly believe that Americans are not ready to abandon the Constitutional principles of limited government, nor are they ready to allow the federal government to continue to overstep those principles. We have achieved the greatest freedom of any people on earth and history has not provided another prospect for bettering mankind. What it has shown us is that government must be bound “…from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”

This entry was posted in Constitutional Government, Limited Government and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

3 Comments

  1. Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    That is one of my favorite quotes from Jefferson. Unfortunately, the Constitution is a dead document unless there are people who stand ready to enforce it. Every elected official takes an oath to defend that document and the principles enshrined in it. It would be good if more of them took that oath seriously, but it is incumbent on the voters to make them!

  2. BSmith
    Posted November 22, 2011 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Just under half of the people are ready to throw off the yoke of personal responsibility and instead enfold themselves in the soft, warm, protective strait-jacket of government care.
    It’s a curious thing that those who seek the “best and the brightest” to lead them always choose poorly, those best and brightest being full of hubris and gall and belief that not even God can create a better world than them.

  3. JB
    Posted August 11, 2012 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    In reality, if you bother to investigate the history, there never has been a time when our constitutions operated successfully. The Federal constitution has been ignored since Washington was elected to the Presidency. Indeed, the first convention was intended to revise the Articles of Confederation, but the representatives overturned their own rules and their mandate to create a different form of government the populace was largely unaware of and did not want. TJ’s political views are laudable in the main, but this statement of constitutional chains is a comedy of errors, a scarecrow. This the chief fault in all constitutions–there is no mechanism by which politicians are forced unequivocally to adhere to their professed rules. Representative government will never function properly no matter the fine print on paper until each citizen performs their duty as judge and executioner of those chosen to work for them.

6 Trackbacks

  1. […] The Founders knew that is was not enough to understand the temptations of political power and its inevitable abuse and destruction of individual liberty by men who would be corrupted by unfettered power. Therefore they took pains to construct a Constitutional that would limit government and protect its citizens. Again, as Jefferson opined, “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in men, but bind him down from mi… […]

  2. […] The Founders knew that is was not enough to understand the temptations of political power and its inevitable abuse and destruction of individual liberty by men who would be corrupted by unfettered power. Therefore they took pains to construct a Constitution that would limit government and protect its citizens. Again, as Jefferson opined, “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in men, but bind him down from mi… […]

  3. By Hello world! | Healthcare in America on November 6, 2010 at 10:30 am

    […] keep elected officials from interfering grossly in our lives and liberties. Do we still believe this today? This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the […]

  4. By Tear our Clothes | Modern Exodus on March 20, 2011 at 10:12 am

    […] How do we get back to the days of binding the hands of our “elected” officials with the chains of the Constitution? We’re not sure, but we do know that we are outraged, emotionally distraught, and spiritually […]

  5. […] current whim favors. Instead, they established a republic with a brilliantly written Constitution. Jefferson said it […]

  6. […] current whim favors. Instead, they established a republic with a brilliantly written Constitution. Jefferson said it best: In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down […]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

  • Categories