Monday, January 18, 2016


In the Making of America ("MOA") Class I lead each week, we are studying the foundational principles the Founding Fathers sought to outline and use as the secure base and foundation upon which to build the Constitution and this republic we love. This week's lesson is short but powerful, and during this presidential election year, it is also timely.

This week are studying the 13th Principle of Freedom:

"A Constitution Should be Structured to Permanently Protect the People from the Human Frailties of their Rulers"

The text reads:

"At the Constitutional Convention, the Founding Fathers were concerned with the one tantalizing question which no political scientist in any age had yet been able to answer with complete satisfaction. The question was, "How can you have an efficient government but still protect the freedom and unalienable rights of the the people?"(1)

It goes on to explain how the Founders had much more confidence in the people than they did in any current or future elected government servants, especially when those elected servants held the power to injure the people and when those same people were blindly trusting in those servants, without taking the time to study them, study the issues, and stay on top of not only the current issues but the principles upon which this nation was founded and the principles that were driving the decisions of the elected servants, which are not always pure. 

"Two hundred years of American history have demonstrated the wisdom of the Founders in proclaiming a warning against the frailties of human nature in the people's elected or appointed leaders. Every constitutional action has usually been justified because it was for a "good cause." Every illegal transfer of power from one department to another has been excused as "necessary."  The whole explosion of bureaucratic power in Washington has been the result of "trusting" benign political leaders, most of whom really did have good intentions. Thomas Jefferson struck out with all the force that tongue and pen could muster against trusting in human nature. Said he:

"It would be a dangerous delusion were a confidence in the men of our choice to silence our fears for the safety of our rights; that confidence is everywhere the parent of despotism; free government is founded in jealousy, and not in confidence; it is jealousy, and not confidence, which prescribes limited constitutions to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with power; that our Constitution has accordingly fixed the limits to which, and no farther, our confidence may go.... In questions of power, then, let no more be said of confidence in  man, BUT BIND HIM DOWN FROM MISCHIEF BY THE CHAINS OF THE CONSTITUTION. (The Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, Annals of America, 4:65-66; emphasis added.)" (2)
  George Washington also felt strongly that it was necessary to jealousy guard our freedoms from those who hold the power over them, as the Founders looked on government as an unpredictable and "explosive" power that must be harnessed by the strict ENUMERATED delegated powers of the Constitution. He said: 

"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence - it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. (Quoted in Jacob M. Braude, Lifetime Speaker's Encyclopedia, 2 vols. [Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Pentice-Hall, inc, 1962], 1:326.)" (3)
Have you ever really taken time to stop and think what the real purpose of the Constitution is? It is to define the very limited area within which government leaders within all three branches of the federal government can work. Their powers are purposely ENUMERATED - that means limited, and numbered, to NO MORE than those that are listed in the Constitution.

"In ever human being there is a natural tendency to practice Parkinson's law of perpetual expansion and to exercise personal proclivities toward ego-mania and self-aggrandizement." (4)  That means our human nature leads us to be ego-centric and power-grabbing to make ourselves bigger, better, more powerful, more everything - to be on "top". 

Because of this, it is necessary to confine our elected leaders, because we are delegating them our own power over ourselves and over our money. Can you imagine what that could end up being like if these people went unchecked?

James Madison wisely said:

"It may be a reflection on human nature that such devices [as Constitutional chains] should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?...If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government should be necessary. [But lacking these,] in framing a government which is to be adminsitered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: YOU MUST FIRST ENABLE THE GOVERNMENT TO CONTROL THE GOVERNED; AND IN THE NEXT PLACE OBLIGE IT TO CONTROL ITSELF. (Federalist Papers, No. 51, p.322; emphasis added.) (4)
There are many I've heard over the past 20-40 years claim that the Constitution is outdated, that it was written by men who could never have known our day, that these men only lived and knew what an agrarian society was like and even that the Constitution was obsolete because social and economic conditions have changed so much.  HOWEVER, the Founders were much wiser than we could even begin to imagine today. We simply to not have the level of their logic, wisdom, and education today which they had under their belt already by the time they wrote the Constitution. 

Here is WHY THE CONSTITUTION WILL NEVER BE OBSOLETE: It was designed to control something which has not changed and will not change. Namely HUMAN NATURE.

The Founders knew from experience that our gradual loss of freedom through the erosion of Constitutional principles is not always so obvious that the people can readily detect it. Madison stated:

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations... This danger ought to be wisely guarded against." (Elliot, Debates in the State Conventions, 3:87.) (5)

So - when erosions come, what do we do? We take IMMEDIATE steps to halt it!  Said James Madison:

"It is proper to take alarm at the FIRST EXPERIMENT ON OUR LIBERTIES. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of citizens and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. THE FREEMEN OF AMERICA did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences [of governmental abuses] in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle [on which the abuses were based]. We revere this lesson too forget it. ("Memorial and Remonstrance," in Rives and Fendall, Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, 1:163; emphasis added.) (6)
SO.... Mankind has so many unalienable rights, they cannot possibly be listed in the Constitution nor elsewhere. We cannot even keep a jealous eye on every single one 100% of the time. So the mind asks, "Is there one right, above all others that we should guard first and foremost?"   The Founders said there is. They said we should concentrate on the preservation of one particular right, because this right is the "umbrella" over all other rights. And what is this "umbrella right"?


"Life and Liberty are Secure Only So Long As The Right to Property Is Secure." - the 14th Principle of Freedom.

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1.) W. Cleon Skousen, The 5000 Year Leap, p.163
2.) ibid., p. 164
3.) ibid., p. 165
4.) ibid., p.166
5.) ibid.
6.) ibid., p.166-67