“ 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
For 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.”