Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

America Embraces The Tyranny Its Founders Fought To Reject

Published on January 10, 2016 by   ·   No Comments

police_state

Mike Maharrey

The American Founding generation fought a long, bloody war to free themselves from a tyrannical government, only to see the people eventually embrace the very system they struggled to throw off.

That may seem like a stinging indictment, but careful examination of U.S. governance today reveals that it rests on essentially the same philosophical foundation as the 18th century British system Americans rejected.

The founding generation developed a brand new conception of government, resting it on the consent of the governed and the idea that governing institutions must operate within constitutional constraints. Today, we still see the vestiges of those founding ideals in political rhetoric and popular conscience, but the U.S. government long ago threw off constitutional fetters and now functions much like the English system Americans fought to free themselves from.

In Rights of Man, Thomas Paine captured the essence of American constitutionalism that evolved during the Revolution, characterizing the Pennsylvania constitution as “a political bible.”

“Nothing was more common when any debate rose on the principles of a bill, or on the extent of any species of authority, then for members to take the printed Constitution out of their pocket, and read the chapter with which such matter in debate was connected.”

In America, law was king and constitutions stood as the supreme law of the land.

It wasn’t that the British system lacked a constitution, but the English conception of its place in the political order was vastly different than the one that evolved in the American states.

In American thought, constitutions remained above governments. They limited the action of every governmental branch, and political systems were subject to words of their constitutions. In short, constitutions stood as the supreme law of the land, and the entire system of government flowed out of them.

The Supremacy Clause in the U.S. Constitution captures the essence of American constitutional thought.

“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.” [Emphasis added]

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