I apologize in advance if this post sounds as though I am trying to lecture anyone. That is not my intention. At the same time, I don’t “think” I am correct about what I am about to say: I know I am. What I hope to do is explain why I know this to be true. At the same time, I want you to understand that, unless something changes, what I know of history tells me that I will likely be killed for believing what I am about to write. What’s more, I’ll be killed by my own countrymen because they think me a traitor.
I have often been told that I focus too much on philosophy and not enough on reality. Many have gone so far as to call me a fool for doing so. I consider it one of my greatest failings in life that I’ve been unable to explain to these people that their words apply more to them than to me. Philosophy is everything in life: at least, in must be if our life is to have any meaning past our death. Your philosophy is your moral compass. It is the standard by which everything you do should be measured. If you have a shifting standard, an inconsistent philosophy, then everything you do in life will be inconsistent and contradictory. A lyric from a country song comes to mind: “You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.”
The philosophy that dominated the thinking of our founding fathers was founded on the notion of Natural Rights, Natural Law and the Social Contract in the Lockian sense of these theories. This means they could trace their roots directly to the Judea/Christian ethic from which they were derived: directly to Moses and the first recorded constitutional, representative republic in history. Their philosophy was set forth in the Declaration of Independence. That document declares the “what” and the “why” of the nation they founded. It also proclaims by what authority they claimed the right to establish that nation. They used the ideals and principles declared in the D of I in writing the Constitution, but the Constitution was only the “how” of this nation. It is not and was never intended to be the soul of our nation, but rather, the means by which we protect and preserve that soul. But this brings me to the crux of the reason for writing this post.
Many accuse me of asserting my opinion as fact. I suppose, were this true, then the accusations that I am a fool would be correct, and you should dismiss what I have to say as just that: the ramblings of a fool. But I am a trained philosopher. I take that seriously. As such, I seek the truth, and I seek to master the use of logic and right reason in helping me seek the truth – as best it can be understood by the mind of man. This is why I know I am correct when I say that the Declaration of Independence is our founding document, that it was intended to guide our application of the Constitution and that the two documents were never intended to be severed from each other. I know I am correct not because I believe this is what the founders meant, but because the last of the original founders to die said this was the case:
“Before the formation of this Constitution…[t]his Declaration of Independence was received and ratified by all the States in the Union and has never been disannulled.”
–John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams speaks with a greater authority than most scholars care to give him. We should never forget that he was not just a thirteen year old child when the Revolution started; he was a diplomat in service to this nation. He was also present at many of the meetings between his father and the other leaders of the revolution, and he remained a leader in the founding of this nation until he died. If this does not qualify him as an authority on this subject – a far greater authority than anyone living today – then what does? So, for me, this is a definitive declaration of our founders’ intentions, and the key to understanding where and how this nation lost its way.
Now, for the rule of law to work, the law must be known, understood and unchanging. If any of these three things are missing, then there is no rule of law, but a rule of men – those men who are in charge of determining what the law is. Our founders designed the Constitution as the best means they could design for implementing and governing according to the principles and ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence. They provided two means by which the Constitution can be changed, and neither of them was by “interpretation.” They wrote prolifically, and even admitted to each other that their words should be recorded and collected so they could act as a guide to their intentions for future generations. Jefferson was very clear on this point and, thanks largely to his foresight, the founders left us ample evidence of their thinking and intentions. Therefore, we have no excuse for not looking to this record to determine what the founders intended. The same applies to all laws written prior to our times. If we want to, we can know what was intended and why – we just don’t look to that historic record because it too often prohibits what we’re trying to do.
You see, we no longer care about the Declaration of Independence, or even the Constitution. The Declaration has been discarded, and along with it, our founding philosophy. And the Constitution is little more than an idol to which we make emotional appeals for what we want or want to prevent. But the Constitution is no longer set in stone. We have accepted that it means whatever the ‘experts’ tell us it means, which leads us to fight over who gets to ‘interpret’ the Constitution. In essence, these ‘experts’ (judges and ‘constitutional scholars’) have become the ‘priests’ in what is – essentially – a cult of the Constitutional idol. But remember what we said: in order for the rule of law to prevail, the law must be known, understood and constant, which means, if we must rely on ‘experts’ to tell us what the law means, there is no rule of law but of men. Yet, today, we defend this new cult of Constitution as though it is the rule of law. All we care about today is asserting our will over others, and we look to subvert the law to that purpose by any means we can achieve.
The law is supposed to be a tool we command to preserve our individual rights and liberty, not a tool by which we enslave those whom we wish to control. The moment the law ceases to serve everyone equally, and to be applied to everyone impartially, it ceases to be law and becomes tyranny. At that point, the people lose their control over the law and, consequently, their government. That is the point where tyranny begins: when the law falls into the hands of those who use it to control the people and reward their friends. We crossed that line long ago and, so long as we continue to insist that we keep to what passes for the law today, we accept our serfdom.
Free men control the law; slaves are controlled by it. If you and I cannot read and understand the laws and know that they will remain constant and not be changed by ‘interpretation,’ then we do not control the law, it controls us. If recognizing this makes me a fool, then I’ll be a fool in the eyes of this world, but I know this: the law does not change. It is today what it was in the beginning and as it will be until the end. So, until I die, I will do my best to hold to the Natural Law of this universe rather than the passions of whatever man or group manages to wrest control of the law from its rightful master: the People of the United States.