Bear with me in a brief history of the founding of the US Constitution. The New World, as it was known, was settled by people seeking opportunity for broader liberty and wealth. Ultimately it was peopled by those which fell under the governorship of the English monarch, the king. Eventually many of the settlers began to feel that king was becoming more a dictator than a benevolent protector. After years of effort to reach equality, of treatment by the king, with their counterparts in Europe leaders such as Thomas Jefferson wrote a document called the Declaration of Independence.
In the natural course of human events the king sought to re-establish the subservience of the Colonies under his scepter of authority. The War of Independence ensued, with the colonies being victorious. The colonies became independent states under an agreement or pact known as the Article of Confederation. Those articles proved to be substantially ineffective for a nation of sovereigns (individuals and states).
Presumably the best minds of the day gathered together in convention and wrote the document which preserved individual sovereignty for persons and states, while granting the nation a government strong enough to adequately protect the Union. That document, The Constitution of The United States of America, has been deemed by many as nearly sacred, and by some as inspired by God.
In the course of time scholars and their students have perpetuated the idea that the Constitution established three distinct and equal branches of the federal government; Legislative, Executive, and Judicial. That theory is an erroneous teaching.
The Constitution was not, and should not be considered, a solely comprehensive document. Rather it is a progressive document. Lest, the current anti-progressives get an immediate insult to their sensitivities clarification is in order.
By progressive it is intended to mean that the Constitution addresses issues in relative importance. The preamble of the Constitution identifies the intent of the document and co-incidentally that of the convention: To create a stronger union of the sovereign people and states. That is what was and is of greatest importance. Following thereon are the definitions of the powers of that central government and its limitations. One section progresses from the previous.
First, the intent. Second, legislative power. Third, executive power. Et cetera.
Just a brief clarification is needed. This requires a quote from the Constitution. “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” Conversely, “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” Note that the president is secondary to the Congress, and, that the executive is not given legislative authority.
Now, here is a brief word about legislation. Legislation is not law. Congress passes legislation in the form of “Bills”. The Founders were far more literate than much of today’s American society. Each word was written with specific understanding, intent, and order. They wrote with purpose, and for effect. In today’s society we lack much of that precision of voice and meaning. Therefore, when the Constitution uses the phrase “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress” there is meaning which the Founders comprehended, and which current society overlooks. Legislation comes from a Latin root “legis latio”,-proposing (literally ‘bearing’) of a law. It is therefore Congress that proposes law in the form of Bills. The President does not and should not.
For a significant portion of the history of the Colonies the King of England was viewed as a tyrant. He enacted laws which were punitive to the interests, safety, liberty, and prosperity of the colonists. The Declaration of Independence was the culminating expression of the colonist’s dissent and objection to that abuse.
The Articles of Confederation, and consequently the US Constitution, profoundly expressed the reasonable mistrust the people had with kings. The founders recognized and even embraced that mistrust. In consequence they segregated the chief executive from “legis latio” power.
In protecting people and states under the new, and now more powerful, national government the Founders diminished the power of a necessary chief executive. They declined all forms of royalty titles and inherency to the presidency by subjecting the election of a president to a wise body of electors.
They recognized through experience, both historic and personal, that entitlements to executive power would corrupt not just the president but the people as well. They realized that a man possessed of a personality trait of entitlement to govern would ultimately lead to anger, hatred, and potentially bloodshed. This would be brought about by the assertion of opposing forces persuading the masses of people to contend. In those contentions the laws would be perverted and many people would be corrupted.
Through careful consideration of history and known propensities of most men the Founders created a system to combat those eventualities. They established a comprehensive, although not complex, system of establishing laws and governance. It was initiated by wise legislators and executed by a president with a clearly restrained role.
The president’s role is limited in the Constitution. Those limitations were intended to prevent the chief executive from corrupting either the people or the laws. To the extent warranted, precisely, within the Constitution the president is tasked with preserving the unity of the nation.
The Founders were extraordinarily aware of the havoc that kings, presidents; dictators (et al) could create when they had the power and authority to implement laws and means of mastery over people. Further, they knew from their experience that such a person in power could and likely would be difficult to remove from power.
They also knew that such a person would have his friends in position to keep him in power; and that he may or would disregard the role of those who had the right to propose laws. Such a man, if given great power, in an interest in preserving himself in control, would create laws, and impose them upon the people. Those laws would be to preserve his own interests and those of his friends.
The founder, in their wisdom, knew that those who opposed these dictates and refused to obey them would be hounded by such a president until he caused their will and liberty to be destroyed. Anyone that opposes and speaks out against him will be chased down, and, he will seek every means at his disposal to destroy them, even to the extent of killing them if he and his friends deem it necessary.
Those descriptions sound extreme, yet history has repeated itself over and over. There has never been a generation of people where there has not been a leader with such propensities. Mankind would be entirely foolish to contend otherwise. Dictators have and will always be among us. The only means of avoiding them is through diligent efforts in preventing them.
As the founders established, the people should choose legislators which are conscientious in maintaining liberty for all the people, without restraint. Although there are always those who seek power and control over others it is not common that the majority of the people want anything injurious to others. Yet, in all societies small groups of people do, in fact, want to have dominance and power over others. It is therefore essential that the whole population of the people engage in the electoral process.
The founders knew that an entitled royalty or a chief executive strong enough to create laws of their own accord would be detriment to the sovereignty of the people and the states. In establishing the Constitution their debate was in how to protect the liberty of the people against the inevitability of a government that could become corrupted. One of their primary concerns was to restrict a president that would tear the nation apart by his partisanship (placing himself and his friends above the interests of the whole nation).
Many say that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitutional government of the United States of America was an experiment in liberty. Nothing could be further from the actual. It was not an experiment. American self-governance was an act of faith by wise and prudent men.
The Founders trusted the people, acting in their best interests rather than in selfish interests, to choose leaders that would be wise and prudent. Yet, they also recognized that in the course of time the people might become momentarily swayed by the sentiment for unwarranted gain. To that end they fashioned a government that would be complex enough to require the people to thoughtfully consider the ramifications of the proposals of men inclined to their own popularity.
Now, some two centuries and two score years later the origins of their wisdom have been squandered. A government intended to be legislated by representatives of the people and the states has degenerated into a system of partisan quarreling. A central government intended to minimize the power of a chief executive, without legislative authority, is now subject to the whims of a president surrounded with his hirelings in fraud. A national government intended to have a judicial system entrusted with protecting the federalism of The Constitution has been politicized to the level of pandering to a president, while a shorted-sighted legislature, tasked with oversight, is busied being neglectful of their duty.
Not to sound like an advertisement for Fox News, but America was founded in the principle of a fair and balanced society. In reality we were not designed to be governed by a government. Rather, we were intended to be a society governed by each man doing that which was right for all, while pursuing that which was best for them.
There is an old cliché which says “That government governs best, which governs least”. May I boldly amend that sentiment to read “That government governs best…which needs not govern at all”?
As a people we must return to be our better selves; unselfish, serving, charitable, hard working. Elected representative officials must return to the notion that they do not master the people, but rather simply propose necessary and essential legislation. The President must return to understand his role is not of a legislator, but that of a leader sacrificing all else to his country.
We have turned aside from what America was by experimenting in the “sorcery of power over others”.
The watchword of our current time is and ought to be “return”.
Foreign to our nature, as it has become, we must return to the course set by the Founders. If we fail to do so, we will fulfill the greatest fears of our Europeans ancestors. We shall sail forward into an unknown ocean of oppression, and, surely fall off the edge of the world of opportunity.