'Is the Right of the People to Alter or Abolish It'
ELECTIVE DESPOTISM was not the government we fought for," James Madison wrote
in Federalist Paper 41. As America nears the 229th anniversary of its
independence, it is well to recall Madison’s words and to remember what the Founders
fought for is best described in Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence,
which remains the single most important statement on the nature of our republic.
It is true that Christian scripture informed the work of Jefferson and the Founders,
but the declaration and the constitution that followed it are the only scripture
to which Americans must hew. God, after all, will work His own will, to His own
satisfaction, in His own time.
this July 4th Americans must consider if it is again time to "dissolve
the bands which have connected them with another" this for the third
time in their history. We did so in 1776 to shed ourselves of Britain’s thrall,
and our wrong-headed but valiant Southern brethren did so in 1861 after deciding
the Union’s political bands threatened their "country’s" economy, political
aspirations, culture, and domestic institutions including especially the
abominable practice of black slavery.
Americans confront a despotic threat to themselves and their nation like those
of 1776 and 1861, but one that neither Jefferson nor the Southern secessionists
would have imagined possible in the America the Founders designed. Americans now
live under a Federal government that is pervasive and dictatorial like
Britain in 1776 and which acts as the destroyer or suppressor of culture,
economic endeavor, and political aspirations. In addition, today’s Federal government
is the main inciter of American-vs.-American hatred, much as the South perceived
the Federal government in 1861. The threat posed by the Federal government’s deliberate
pitting of citizen against citizen, however, is not most dire threat to America.
That tragic honor belongs to another aspect of the government’s performance: Its
supine and resolute refusal to protect American citizens and territory. In regard
to national defense, Americans today find themselves in what Thomas Paine described
as the "intolerable state" of being "exposed to the same miseries
by a government, which we might expect in a country without government…."
three branches of the Federal government, and the two political parties that run
and staff them, are knowingly and willfully failing to protect what Jefferson
termed the "unalienable Rights" of Americans, chief among which, he
wrote, are "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." The Declaration
described in simple terms what governments are meant to do, and what citizens
are obliged to do if governments fail to perform to specification. "That
to secure these [unalienable] rights," Jefferson explained,
are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is
the Right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government
laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form,
as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and Happiness.
went on wisely to warn that long-established governments must not be changed for
"light and transient reasons." He added, however, that the documented
record of a government’s "long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing
… a design to reduce them under an absolute Despotism" creates for its citizens
a right and a duty "to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards
for their future security."
"Despotism" Americans face today is not that of George III’s Britain,
nor is it the expanding Northern commercial and social juggernaut the Secessionists
despised and feared. No, Americans are confronted and oppressed by an "absolute
Despotism" of incompetence, cowardice, and self-interest, a despotism controlled
by an aristocracy of male and female life-time office servers who have forgotten
that they are hired help, not demigods. These men and women care only for the
perpetuation of their power and sinecures and only act to preserve their power.
They care not a jot about protecting Americans and their land.
today are ruled by a despotism of failure that is unresponsive indeed contemptuous
of their needs, demands, culture, and history. As citizens, therefore,
they must consider recourse to the duty the Founders assigned them: To rid themselves
of a tyrannical Federal aristocracy willing to permit the destruction of their
country in a selfish effort to preserve the power and prerogatives they exercise
over their brethren. The citizen’s role in this unavoidable duty is central and
immensely daunting. Still, citizen action is the only path toward safety and away
from despotism. Calling for resistance to British tyranny, Patrick Henry in 1775
argued that America’s freedom depended on the willingness of its citizens to defend
their liberties against "so formidable an adversary." Delay, he said,
would be fatal. "Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall
we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and
hugging the delusive phantom of hope until our enemies have bound us hand and
foot?," he asked. No, Henry concluded, whatever the risks of defying a despotic
and powerful foe, the danger to liberty demanded the risks be run. Henry’s prescription
was valid in 1775; it is valid today. Americans must either act or allow a despotic
aristocracy of incompetence to commit suicide for them, their children, and their
made are not assertions proved. Jefferson recognized this and so enumerated in
his declaration the British transgressions that compromised the "unalienable
rights" of Americans. He and the Founders submitted their list for review
by "a candid world." In this bill of particulars, Jefferson used the
pronoun "He" to refer to George III and his ministers, whom the Founders
identified as the agent and symbol of America’s oppression. Hereafter in this
essay, the pronouns "He" and "His" will refer to the elected
officials and their senior political appointees of both parties
who run and administer the Federal government. Let the "candid world"
of the American citizenry consider the following:
He has taxed citizens at usurious rates and yet has failed to avoid budget deficits
astonishing in size and crippling to future generations. He has spent massive
amounts of these taxes on building the strongest military on earth, and yet refuses
to use that military to remorselessly destroy America’s enemies, instead allowing
America to be attacked with impunity. Preferring not to offend the opinion of
foreign nations, He refused to exploit numerous opportunities to kill Osama bin
Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi before they became strategic threats, and then
hid those failures through the work of three intelligence investigations staffed
by safe and trusted former members of the Federal aristocracy. More recently,
He wantonly wasted the lives of U.S. Marines by aborting, on victory’s threshold,
the first attempt to take Fallujah in Iraq. And today, as Americans wait for their
foes to detonate a nuclear weapon in their country, He shamelessly begs and bribes
a South Asian military dictator to use a Third-World army to find and kill the
terrorist most likely to inflict nuclear devastation on America.
has routinely ignored constitutional sanctions by allowing the president to oppress
the American people by initiating wars without an official, public, and recorded
vote by the legislative branch declaring war. Nothing in our Constitution is clearer
than the requirement for Congress to declare war. In Federalist 41, Alexander
Hamilton stressed that the Constitution made sure the president’s ability to make
war would not equal that of the British king. To this end, the powers to declare
war and raise and regulate military forces were given to the legislative branch.
Our first and greatest president respected this limit on his power. "The
constitution vests the power of declaring war in the Congress," George Washington
wrote, "[and] therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken
until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a
measure." Notwithstanding the Constitution’s clear intent, He has, for half
a century, acted in the arbitrary manner of the British king and rendered the
Founders’ absolute requirement an irrelevant anachronism.
He has passed laws with unbecoming fanfare and bravado and then refused to enforce
them. Thus today, in time of war, the nation is under a continuous and growing
domestic threat because of His deliberate failure to control borders and check
illegal immigration, as well as His cowardly refusal to identify the millions
of aliens in our midst because He fears political retribution. He has thereby
created and nurtured a situation that vastly increases the chance of more terrorist
attacks in the United States. Worse, this situation all but ensures American-against-American
violence targeting immigrant Americans after the next attack.
He has failed to make laws that would curb the undue and destructive influence
of foreign powers in America. He instead holds hands with tyrannical Arab princes
who sponsor religious war against America and extort billions by manipulating
oil supplies. He lines up to genuflect before and pander to the agent of a minor,
arrogant, and larcenous foreign power in the guise of the America-Israel Public
Affairs Committee. He recoils in terror before the war-through-inundation-of-immigrants
threats issued by yet another venal mountebank who is ensconced as Mexico’s president.
has dictated that a cruel bureaucratic war be waged against all religions in our
own country, consistently passing laws and issuing decisions from the bench that
denigrate and humiliate the faiths of American believers. In so doing, He has
set American against American as each religious group strives to protect its identity.
He has, for the first time, and by deliberate policy, created an environment conducive
to the spread of religious acrimony and perhaps violence among believing
Americans in America. He has done the same through His dictations on issues ranging
from education to road construction to law enforcement. He has made Federal domestic
polices the single greatest instigator of disunity and divisiveness in America,
almost as if pitting American against American is His goal. He has, moreover,
negated the ability of Americans to talk, debate, and, if necessary, argue out
their differences by imposing Federal censorship laws cynically and deliberately
mislabeled as prohibitions on hate speech.
He has recklessly squandered hundreds of billions of dollars in payments to foreign
powers whose policies and ambitions are antithetical to U.S. interests. He has,
moreover, spent like amounts in monetary and/or military aid to support religious
theocracies in places like Saudi Arabia and Israel, thus supporting religious
persecution abroad and unilaterally abrogating the Constitution’s prohibition
against official U.S. support for religion. It is patently absurd to fund and
promote established, discriminatory, state-dominating religions overseas, while
waging war against the faiths of the American people at home.
He has negated the ability of the nation’s military to protect Americans and their
territory by continuing to purchase weapons systems irrelevant to defeating the
enemies now threatening America. He has done so because the makers of these unusable
weapons systems contribute massively to the funds that allow His continued manipulation
of the electoral system and thereby maintain both His power and His ability to
ignore citizens’ safety. He then involves the nation’s military in wars it is
not equipped to fight and binds it with rules of engagement that make our military
personnel more targets than soldiers.
He has for more than thirty years knowingly failed to create an energy policy
that lessens America’s dependence on foreign energy resources. He has willingly
put the country under the thumb of Arab tyrants and Latin American dictators,
leaving it liable to unexpected and savage increases in energy prices. He has
deliberately left Americans in a situation where they will pay extortionate energy
prices which will, in turn, fund the terrorists who are killing their children
serving in the military.
Road Back: Citizen Action, State-based Defiance, and the Ballot
the Federal government, as now constituted and run, has the capacity but not the
will, courage, or commonsense to protect what Jefferson called the "Safety
and Happiness" of American citizens. Americans must act, therefore, to protect
themselves and their country. At this date, violence against the Federal government
is not needed, and must not be in the current set of options for Americans to
to Start? The only place to start is with the physical security of the United
States. Addressing this issue first has two clear benefits. First, without physical
security, all of America’s so-called post-9/11 victories over Islamic militancy
are mere eyewash. Second, if there is a single issue on which those we elected
to run the Federal government have, for decades, failed monumentally and deliberately,
it is the physical security of our nation. Criminal actions against these knowingly
negligent men and women are in order, but for now let us leave them to babble
lies about "improved Homeland Security" and act at the state and local
levels to protect Americans by taking the responsibility for domestic security
that the Federal government has abdicated.
to Proceed? It has taken two-plus centuries to statutorily empower our elected
Federal aristocracy of incompetence, arrogance, cowardice, and greed. These men
and women are now the masters of the Federal system and have, through arms-makers
and other industries, domestic and foreign lobbying groups, and incestuous relationships
with foreign powers, built dependable financial resources that make them independent
of and superior to the citizenry. These funds allow them to pay cynical lip-service
to the American electorate. Armed with the power of legal precedent, the aristocracy
will delay and ultimately defeat efforts by citizens to restore to themselves
a government dedicated to securing their "Safety and Happiness." In
the short term, there is no way to alter the cupidity, cowardice, and self-serving
arrogance of the Federal aristocracy. At first it can only be isolated, but then,
over time, it can and must be destroyed from the bottom up by massive, popular
resistance to its policies. "It was by the sober sense of our citizens,"
Jefferson wrote in words as true today as two centuries ago, "that we were
safely and steadily conducted from monarchy to republicanism, and it is by the
same agency alone we can be kept from falling back."
now, then, an active defiance of the Federal government through cooperation at
the state and local levels is the only means by which America’s domestic security
can begin to be protected. At times such defiance will mean using the same state-government
powers that governors invoke when man-made or natural disasters occur; at other
times, defiance will require blatantly refusing to obey Federal edicts. The state
governors must for now be the leading agents of defiance. If America is to be
protected, the governors must work across party lines and focus solely on the
security of their citizens and nation.
The Governors should exert their control over the military reserve units that
fall under state jurisdiction and refuse to transfer that control to the Federal
government. The governors should then mobilize and deploy these units to staff
and administer state-mandated, border-control regimes to stop the flow of illegal
immigration. Of course all governors do not have a border-control problem, but
all governors do suffer from the adverse consequences derived from those who do.
If extra military manpower is needed by the governors on the front-lines of this
federally mandated and protected immigration debacle such as those in California,
Arizona, Washington, Texas, New York, Michigan, and New Mexico it should
be provided by the governors of interior states who do not have contiguous borders
with negligent, apathetic, or ill-intentioned foreign powers. If the federal aristocracy
threatens legal or physical action against the states, the governors must defy
them. The Federal time-servers will quickly find that the electorate, in time
of war, will rally to governors who act to protect them when the Federal government
will not. The Federal aristocrats will also find themselves impotent: Can any
American imagine a U.S. soldier shooting his brethren for defying the Federal
government and trying to protect all citizens?
The Governors can also use their control over military reserves to begin to rein-in
the president’s unilateral and unconstitutional war-making ability. The U.S. military’s
reserve forces including those state governors command are key components
of America’s war-making ability; without them large, long-duration wars overseas
are not possible. Because the Federal legislature has allowed the president to
abrogate the constitutional requirement that Congress declare war, such action
by the governors will deny the Federal government vital military manpower, thereby
negating the ability of presidents to take America to war simply because he or
she is so inclined. By using the military units under their command to protect
citizens, the governors will provoke a needed confrontation with the federal government
that may at last return constitutional sanity to the issue of making war. Such
actions are not meant to make America vulnerable or render it unable to wage war
abroad. Rather, they are meant to help destroy an unconstitutional power that
has been assumed by presidents, and to make domestic security certain and reliable,
without which winning victory over our enemies overseas is, in any event, an illusion.
In the longer term, Americans
must destroy the current Federal aristocracy by establishing litmus tests for
all candidates elected to the Federal legislature. For now, such litmus tests
must have nothing to do with today’s contentious social issues. Those issues are
important, but their resolution is both impossible and irrelevant unless America
survives. The litmus tests should rather deal with a limited number of issues
that pertain directly to national security and constitutional rigor. No candidate
should be sent to the Federal legislature before he or she unambiguously pledges
Effective control of our national borders by the U.S. military: the temporary
suspension of all immigration until America puts its domestic house in order vis-à-vis
immigration policy and enforcement; the deportation of proven illegal immigrants
with tightly limited right of appeal; and the creation of an immigration system
that welcomes foreign nationals if they enter America via the established legal
system. Candidates must also support the construction of physical impediments
to crossing U.S. borders, thereby forcing all individuals entering America to
pass through official checkpoints. Without such barriers, the tens of billions
of dollars spent on computerized identification and detection systems will be
easily defeated by foes who will simply avoid official border crossings.
Equipping the U.S. military with appropriate weaponry to defeat America’s current
enemies; reformulating rules of engagement to facilitate the killing of as many
of America’s enemies as quickly as possible; and curtailing by statute the use
of U.S. forces in other than war-fighting situations. Also, the immediate and
permanent abrogation of Executive Order 12333, which forbids assassination of
foreign leaders. America’s young must fight no more wars, and the U.S. government
must invoke no more civilian-killing economic sanctions, when both can be avoided
by killing simple butchers like Saddam and Castro or nascent brilliant, charismatic,
and brutal leaders like Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Our own leaders
are hired help and replaceable. If their lives are put on the line as the cost
of eliminating threats to Americans as a whole, it is a chance they are paid to
take. Their protective blanket of E.O. 12333 should be shredded in the interest
of the greater good.
Substantial reductions in and eventual elimination of foreign aid to governments
especially dictatorships, tyrannies, and theocracies and the creation
of a foreign aid program catholic in its approach and limited to food, medical,
technological, and educational aid, preferably administered entirely by secular
private or public U.S. institutions.
An energy policy that demonstrably begins to reduce America’s dependence on foreign
energy sources. This policy should include alternative energy sources, increased
domestic production and exploration, and hybrid automobiles. Funds now spent on
aid to foreign tyrants, theocrats, and gangsters must be used as a catalyst for
creativity and innovation in the energy sector.
The immediate reclamation of the Congress’s now-usurped control of the war-making
power. This to abide by the constitution, to end a half-century of the American
people being oppressed by presidents who take them to war on personal whim, and
to heed Madison's warning that "If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it
will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy."
The reestablishment of Free Speech rights by systematically abrogating the Federal
hate-speech laws that are meant to preclude criticism of Federal policy and action,
allow the Federal aristocracy to experiment with and impose domestic policies
antithetical to America’s culture, history, and constitution, and which pit Americans
once the current Federal aristocracy is destroyed and a legislature is installed
that has the protection of Americans as its foremost goal, we must work toward
a constitutional amendment that will sanction the initiative, referendum, and
recall for all Federal officials elected and politically appointed
in all three branches of government. These measures must be applied to all Federal
judges. Both political parties long ago made ideology, not talent and objectivity,
the standard for judicial appointment. It seems best, therefore, to afford citizens
the right to decide the brand of ideology they want in their judges. The Internet
Age allows these measures to be executed in reasonable amounts of time and, once
undertaken, they will begin to reestablish a link between citizens and their government
that is vibrant, effective, and vigilant.
Heed Jefferson and the Founders
current Federal despotism is ample proof that the Founders were correct about
the imperfectability of human nature and the corrupting nature of centralized
power in a republic. Sadly, it also is clear that their system of checks-and-balances
has been destroyed by the men and women who staff and run the Federal government.
These individuals will not reform themselves, and so the people who elected them
must seek to take charge. The nationalization of the initiative, referendum, and
recall is essential not only to remove those who deliberately pit Americans against
Americans, but to block polices that further that goal and, concurrently, to initiate
policies to stop the current divisiveness of American politics from descending
into a new civil war.
Federal government is now run by individuals who too closely resemble those Walt
Whitman described as responsible for the Civil War. Listen to Whitman’s description
of the members of a pre-Civil War political party convention and prepare to cringe
as you recognize the same character types now populating our national parties
and Federal government.
members who composed it [the convention] were, seven eighths of them, the meanest
kind of bawling and blowing officeholders, office seekers, pimps, malignants,
conspirators, murderers, fancy-men, custom-house clerks, contractors, kept editors,
spaniels well trained to carry and fetch, jobbers, infidels, disunionists, mail-riflers,
slave-catchers, pushers of slavery, creatures of the president, creatures of would-be
presidents, spies, bribers, compromisers, lobbyists, sponges, ruined sports …
crawling, serpentine men the lousy combings and born freedom-sellers of
ballots to destroy today’s venal, self-serving, and incompetent ruling elite may
be the last chance to reclaim, without violence, a democratic republic in which,
as Jefferson wrote, "the people [are] the safe, as they are the ultimate,
guardians of their own liberty." While close to being too late to do so,
there is no need to despair. The Founders’ wisdom is at our disposal; indeed,
it silently but forcefully demands our attention and action.
on this Independence Day let all be of good heart as we accept our duty as American
citizens and begin to destroy an elite not a system of government
that is knowingly failing to protect the nation’s "Safety and Happiness."
In the early, dark days of America’s war against Britain, Thomas Paine outlined
the dangers his countrymen faced from British military power and urged them to
act with unity and confidence. "I thank GOD that I fear not," Paine
wrote. "I see no real cause for fear. I know our situation well, and see
the way out."
I call not upon a few, but upon all; not on THIS State or THAT State, but on EVERY
State; up and help us; lay your shoulders to the wheel; better have too much force
than too little, when so great an object is at stake. Let it be told to the future
world, that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive,
that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet
and repulse it. Say not, that thousands are gone, turn out your tens of thousands;
throw not the burthen of the day upon Providence, but "show your faith in
your works," that GOD may bless you. It matters not where you live, or what
rank of life you hold, the evil or the blessing will reach all of you. The far
and the near, the home counties and the back, the rich and the poor, shall suffer
or rejoice alike.
is, again, no cause now for Americans to use violence as they confront the Federal
despotism. That said, the threat Americans face is as desperate as that faced
by Paine and our forbearers. Our domestic security is deliberately and disastrously
compromised by presidents and legislators who refuse to defend America. Our constitution
is defied by presidents who covet the role of overseas military buccaneer. And
worst of all, these presidential buccaneers are aided and abetted by a Federal
legislature more concerned with safeguarding their sinecures than in exercising
their constitutional duty. These failures must be rectified, and measures must
be emplaced to prevent their repetition.
each of us, then, draw inner strength from belief in the God of our choice, but
let all of us steel ourselves with the resolve and power found in Jefferson’s
timeless declaration and the Founders’ actions and legacy the eternal right
and duty to change a government that does not secure our "Safety and Happiness."
"I love the man," Paine wrote, "that can smile in trouble, that
can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ’Tis the business
of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves
his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death." Fortunately for today‘s
Americans, the Founders and their compatriots pursued their principles and were
victorious. Now it is our turn, and we must keep in mind that our failure to act
will yield the same result Paine forecast if his own generation had failed to
act: "The blood of his children shall curse his cowardice, who shrinks back
at a time when a little might have saved the whole and made THEM happy."
Scheuer [send him mail] is the author of
Hubris and Through Our Enemies' Eyes. He recently resigned after 22 years
at the CIA.
2005 © LewRockwell.com