In my last post, Professor Randy Barnett described the Left’s conception of We The People as a collective, a single mass that expresses its sovereign will through congress. Here, first comes government, then come rights. Rights are what We The People collective say they are.
The Republican Constitution.
On the other hand, We The People of a Republican Constitution are composed of sovereign individuals. The people we send to government are fellow citizens and servants who exercise limited, enumerated, and “just” powers. Their purpose isn’t to reflect majoritarian will, but rather to secure the unalienable rights we all possess. A Republican Constitution recognizes that first come rights, then comes government. Congressmen and senators are agents who govern on our behalf, and are subject to our ultimate control. The Republican Constitution is consistent with our Declaration of Independence.
As Barnett writes, “The Republican Constitution, then, provides the law that governs those who govern us. This written Constitution, to which our servants swear obedience, can no more be changed by them than you or I can change speed limit laws. Reason informs us that the meaning of this Constitution must remain the same until it is properly amended.
Next, Professor Barnett, in a creative approach, delves into the concept of individual sovereignty. The idea of individual popular sovereignty helps us to better understand just what rights and powers, privileges and immunities are retained by the sovereign people as individuals. He describes our individually retained rights and powers as closely resembling those enjoyed by sovereign monarchs, to wit:
• Just as monarchs keep watch over their kingdoms, sovereign individuals have jurisdiction over their private property and may exclude others from interference with their persons and property.
• Just as monarchs may use force to protect their possessions, so too may individuals use force to secure their possessions, which include unalienable rights.
• Just as monarchs may enter into treaties with other monarchs, individuals may contract with one another.
The Republican Constitution provides for the regulation of our liberties. Regulation in this sense is not synonymous with restriction, but rather consistent with equal protection of our rights. Under a Republican Constitution, the purpose of judges, who are also agents of The People, is to critically assess whether congress improperly exceeded its just authority to infringe upon our individual sovereignty.
While the Republican and Democratic Constitutions share the popular element through regular congressional elections, they are nonetheless mutually exclusive.
The Democratic Constitution invites a majoritarian hell in which demagogic rulers invent class enemies for the masses to hate. Innovation and rights of all kinds, including free speech, and religious worship are stymied when one cannot tell from one day to the next whether a majority might single out one’s inventions, speech and religion as hostile to the greater good.
Where the Democratic Constitution rejects the tenets of our founding, the Republican Constitution embraces our Declaration of Independence and commands the servants of the people to be mindful of the limits to their powers. When rights come first, as Barnett writes, “individual rights retained by the people are recognized and effectively protected from the will of the majority, that polity is a true republic.”
Can the true American republic be restored? Yes.
We are the many; our oppressors are the few. Be proactive. Be a Re-Founder. Join Convention of States. Sign our COS Petition.
Barnett, Randy E. Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We The People. New York: Harper Collins, 2016.