As you know, my goal with The Liberty Belle has not been to push a partisan agenda or a certain political ideology on people. No, my goal, more than anything, is to help educate Americans about the Constitution, the American government, the founders and the founding. I’m not going to write and campaign for candidates or campaign against candidates. I think the Democrats have some valid points to make about our government and the Republicans have some valid points to make about our government. However, I have a hard time buying any of what they say since they all disregard the one thing I hold in highest regard: The Constitution of the United States.
Therefore, when I hear what they say, I like to kindly bring them back to this question: “Is what they’re doing Constitutional?”
But here’s the thing. I think Americans assume that, because I respect the Constitution, I must blindly accept that it is perfect, infallible and should never be changed. Or that the founders and founding were perfect, infallible and should never be changed. Perhaps people think that my respect for the Constitution is a bit outdated, narrow minded or even uneducated. Some people may agree with my respect for the Constitution, but only because they themselves blindly support it and respect it (I’d prefer blind respect to no respect).
I want to respond to some of these assumptions. I love liberty—hence the name, The Liberty Belle. I realize that a Constitution is the greatest support and defense of liberty.
So, my passion and my allegiance to the Constitution really isn’t even about the Constitution. I don’t believe there is any inherent virtue or goodness in the document. I don’t even think it’s the most perfectly or well-written government document to exist in the world today. But, what I do know is that it is a STANDARD.
Without a standard to base government’s actions against, we really have nothing, and government can do anything. For liberty to thrive, government must have a baseline, it must have a standard… liberty demands it.
In a class that I teach, I asked my students why people think the government is ineffective or not doing a good job.
My students gave me a litany of answers and so I pushed them. How is the government ineffective? What would be an effective government and why? What is an ineffective government action? Is passing no laws ineffective? If so, why? What about passing just some laws? What’s a good law? What’s a bad law? What’s too many laws? Who determines these things?
They said, well, moral laws are good laws. I said, ok, what’s a moral law and who determines that?
Some of them grabbed their heads and said their brains were hurting. They were being pushed. Finally, one of them said… “If the law isn’t Constitutional, it’s not a good law. We need to see if the government is passing Constitutional laws to know if it is being effective.”
And that’s the crux of it really. The Constitution sets a standard, without which, government has no standard and the citizens have no standard to judge government behavior by.
Some people may say, “Well, the Constitution is racist and was made by racists”.
My answer is: “Whether that’s true or not, does that really matter? It’s a standard. Would anyone prefer arbitrary unlimited government power with no standard to a government that’s limited by a standard even if that standard was created by racists, murders or whatever terrible slander someone would want to argue?” The point isn’t the document or the virtue thereof, the point is the fact that there is a document and it sets the standard for government action.
The Constitution isn’t perfect and that’s why Madison wanted to include the ability to amend it as the country discovered the Constitution’s inherent flaws.
The point was never the content, the point was that the Constitution limited government’s power, something no government had ever been subject to before. Governments always had inherent power, power that they held simply because they were the government. Governments with inherent power could do or not do whatever they wanted, with no repercussions and no standard to measure itself against. The citizenry could cry out against the government, saying it was abusive and unfair, but the government could respond, “By whose standards? What is fair? Who makes that call?—Certainly not you.”
I love the Constitution because it sets that standard. It IS the standard. We know if government has done something good or bad because of it and we can use it to call government out. It governs government and without anything to govern government, government is a relentless taskmaster who gladly tramples liberty.
The Constitution sets the bar for government. It says, “Government, you have the power to do these few things and that’s all”.
Now, is the Constitution, the standard, right, virtuous, and good…? Does that matter? No one, no government, is right, virtuous and good, which is why we need a standard. And until we can find a better standard and a peaceful way to establish that standard new standard, we better uphold the standard we now have, or else government is sure to plow through liberty and never look back.
I think this is something that everyone–liberals, conservatives, independents and libertarians alike–should all be able to agree upon. Liberals may want a different standard, but I can almost guarantee you that they’d prefer any standard to no standard and the subsequent arbitrary unlimited government power that follows.
So, to all of you who have been faithfully following me, who want to learn about the Constitution, the government, the founding, the founders, American history, government today and the like, look at why you appreciate and support the Constitution. Have you ever thought about why?
Is it because you think it’s so well written? Is it because you think it has some inherent virtue in and of itself? Or it is because, deep down—even if you’ve never really been able to articulate it—you know that it sets a standard, a standard for government and that violating that standard means the death of liberty.
And yes, I’ll address the elephant in the figurative room. In America today, the government violates that standard left and right, many times because the people ask her to and government is more than happy to oblige. Most people don’t think about the consequences of asking for arbitrary power of government.
I find that everyone in government right now minimizes the Constitution and the standard it sets. They may talk about it and its importance, but do they really grasp what they’re talking about? Do they understand the gravity of not adhering to the standard?
I recently met a candidate running for Congressional office. I asked him if he’d read the Constitution or knew the Constitution. He said, “Oh, I haven’t read it in a while. I was just thinking the other day that I should probably read it. I think I’ve read it 3 or 4 times maybe”.
I was astounded at the flippancy with which he treated the standard by which he and his colleagues are supposed to be held accountable—at all costs.
Friends, we’re to blame. Because if we don’t hold them accountable to it, who will?
I fear the power of the government today. It’s unlimited and it’s complete. There is little stopping our government from doing whatever she pleases. Yes, we do still have a Constitution, or at least the ghost of one, but it has been violated, misinterpreted and reinterpreted beyond recognition. It’s no longer treated like a standard but merely a suggestion guide. And the citizens of the United States have allowed this to happen.
This doesn’t mean the Constitution can’t again have power, but it does mean that in order for it to have power, we the people must imbue it with such and require, nay, demand that our representatives revere, respect and follow that standard at all costs. They need to tremble at the consequences they may reap should they violate the standard the people set for them.
This is why I’m fighting so hard to wake up the American citizenry to the importance of the Constitution and the gravity of not following it—NOT because of the Constitution itself but because of what it stands for. It is a standard. It is THE standard. (and until or unless we get a different one, we better give our all to protect and defend this one)
Friends, we stand at a precipice. If people take office who will use and abuse this power as never before, it is incumbent upon us to stand. We must fight to restore the standard, no matter the cost and no matter the resistance. And if we lose the battle, at least we can know that we gave liberty our all and we loved her while we had her. We can impart this love to our children so that maybe one day they too can know and taste of the rare gift of liberty.
But there is hope. There is hope because there is a remnant of respect for the Constitution that still burns in the hearts of this great American citizenry. But they must know what that inner flicker means so that they can stoke it into a powerful flame.
We hold the answer. We know what will stoke the flicker into a flame and should we successfully elect people who are willing to resist the temptation of arbitrary power, we will have been given a gift… the gift of time. Time to stoke those embers of liberty into flames of passion.
It’s time to remind this country that liberty is worth fighting for and dying for. But most of all, it’s time to remind this country that liberty is worth living for.
The Liberty Belle
5 thoughts on “Without a Standard, There Can Be No Liberty”
One of your statements is so telling. You said: "I fear the power of the government". I can’t recall this second who said it, but the quote goes something like this: "When the government fears the people, we have liberty. When the people fear the government, we have tyranny."
We certainly have tyranny for anyone with two brain cells should fear the government. They can require us to wear a mask, they can decide what jobs are essential, and that’s just recent events. You and I know such mandates are unconstitutional and unenforceable, but yet they have happened. Why? The people fear the hand of the government. I fail to share your hope of the future.
Still another very timely repost! Thank you gain for sharing your knowledgeable,educational thoughts, per the Constitution and what it stands for, pointing out the obvious and asking questions of us that should open lazy eyes.
As before, what a Blessing you are, especially to those who live under the deceptions of our elected representatives & bureaucrats.
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I am currently reading “The Three Lives of James Madison,” which besides giving fascinating background on the presidency of Madison gives details behind the thinking of the founding fathers.
In Federalist 38 Madison went on the attack against any second convention. If there were to be a “second convention, with full powers and for the express purpose of revising and remodeling the work of the first”, he predicted it would be marked by “discord and ferment.” In Federalist 50 Madison took the point a step further. Not only must constitutional conventions be avoided, but even periodic reviews of constitutional practice were problematic.
Ben Franklin’s connection to the Declaration of Independence being signed in the same room as the Constitution made him the right person to defend the Constitution “with all its faults, if they are such”.
“I doubt whether any convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution. For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interest, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does.”……..Tuesday 17 September 1787
Being a long-time reader of your blog, I found the main attraction is as you stated above that you are “not pushing a partisan agenda or political ideology” but simply “educating about the Constitution” and the founding. I find it disconcerting however that through no fault of yours so many of your readers in their comments twist the interpretation of your writings as justification for their right-wing beliefs.
If anything, James Madisons main intentions in drawing up the Constitution was not only to protect the minority from the majority rule but his fear of factions and of our elected officials taking advantage of their positions in government. It seems the New Right not only believes in revanchism and mob rule but follows the beliefs that “they should help friends and punish their enemies”. The leaders of this faction now proclaim, “I am your retribution” and advocate “SUSPENDING the CONSTITUTION”. No matter how hard you try you can’t twist the interpretation of SUSPEND the CONSTITUTION into a Madisonian doctrine.