The United States were once revered; now it is not. The structure of the previous sentence suggests the very problem: what once was a compound republic becomes a singular state, a democratic society, what the founders called a national society.
Much has been made of the democratical nature of the United States, but one of the bright ideas of the framers of the Constitution was to divorce government from the passions of the people. This dissociation of elections and rights may be their greatest achievement. They created a political system where fundamental rights are never votable, but are instead permanently secured by higher law, kept out of reach of the electoral process and beyond mere legislation. This is our success, inherited from We the People of the United States, who put their confidence in God.
Today our federalism is up against a political class with a mobbish self-confidence that comes across like an offer that cannot be refused.
Accepting those rules and regulations offered by the national state produces consequences, however, the most insidious of which is that the relationship between citizen and government becomes equitable rather than legal, and that relationship is then adjudged according to equitable principles rather than law as such.1 This disadvantages the citizen forensically, as it considers those protections guaranteed by law and recasts them in a compromising light, or displaces them altogether.
It was once written that “the facility and excess of law-making seem to be the diseases to which our governments are most liable,”2 which would help to explain today’s drive toward a comprehensive regulatory construct governing every element of human behavior. Our government is now an enormous engine for battering down the Constitution as if en route to a perfect national electorate of the sort that may even vote the government apart —— coalitional government of the type that may “fall” or be “brought down” by an election result —— government not of laws, but of men.
As this United States degenerates from mere nuisance to outright nemesis, it makes sense to think about your own freedom, where it came from, how it can be kept.
The Declaration of Independence created thirteen several States, constitutionally indistinct and peopled by equal sovereigns, just as equality under the law remains the hallmark of our system. The people of these states created a brand new sovereign called the United States, the nature and extent of which were defined in the Constitution, which even the people can amend only when convened in their individual states. In this way we protect ourselves against our own passing fancies and preserve basic freedoms by excluding a national society from any part in our government. Despite all the noise, Americans have never amended this core constitutional principle of legal equality. Law is the same for everyone.
So it remains that a law waived for some of us is no law at all, just as a law that prefers members of the government is no law at all.
And a nation of the government, by the government, for the government, is no nation at all.
Thankfully we have the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, safeguards for our “new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”3
1. Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111, 129-133 (1942).
2. The Federalist No. 62, at 378 (James Madison) (Clinton Rossiter ed., 1961).
3. Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address para. 1 (November 19, 1863).