On the Inevitable Changes to Republican Forms

If there is one aspect of the crisis that Convention of States supporters and opponents can agree on, it is that our governing institutions have been corrupted from their constitutional purposes to “ . . . form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty . . . “

Where the two sides differ is what to do about it.

Regular readers know of my admiration for the late Stuart-era martyr for free government, Algernon Sidney. The fundamental thread of his voluminous Discourses Concerning Government, is that the purpose of government is to secure the liberty, freedom, and happiness of the people. Like COS supporters, Sidney believed in eternal vigilance. Constitutions of government must be amended when circumstances, such as corruption of the government, demand change.

Ideally, a constitution can be written once and for all time. However, the nature of men in power is toward self-serving avarice and ambition; by degrees they will corrupt governing forms. The civil society is also subject to change over time, which may necessitate constitutional amendments. From Section XVII of his Discourses, Sidney noted that man’s wisdom is imperfect. Although he cannot foresee all contingencies, he can use his God-given reason and experience to deal with situations as they arise. Furthermore, he expressed disdain for those who sit on their hands: “He that should resolve to persist obstinately in the way he first entered upon . . . does as far as in him lies and renders the word of errors perpetual.” Accordingly, new or amended constitutions are necessary to prevent or cure mischiefs arising from them, or to advance a good that at the first was not thought of.

Changes to both society and government are therefore unavoidable. While it is foolish to think the same form of government is suited to all peoples at all times, this isn’t to say there aren’t fundamental rules to good and free government, just as there are in medicine, military discipline, and other specialties. These first principles, these foundational laws upon which societal happiness rests, should be embraced and protected.

For instance, Sidney cites the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses as fundamental law for legislators to follow. While these laws were not subject to change, the Israelites were free to have or not, kings, judges, high priests or military captains as best suited themselves. Thus, there is enormous flexibility under fundamental laws. Sidney – They who aim at the public good, and wisely institute means proportional and adequate to the attainment of it, deserve praise.

From another example: Over several hundred years, the Roman republic aimed at keeping free government through separation of powers. To this end, they:

  • Expelled the Tarquins and creating consuls.
  • Admitted plebeians to marry patricians.
  • Erected Tribunes to defend the rights of the plebeians.
  • Appointed Decemviri to regulate the law, and then deposed them out when they abused the law.
  • Created Dictators as circumstances required.

As Sidney summarized, the Romans “acted in the face of the sun for the public good, and produced results suitable to the rectitude of their intentions.” Changing times and circumstances required amending their institutions of government. While governing superstructures were reformed, the foundation remained.

When Rome fell into Empire, changes continued. However, they were not for the public good, but rather for the ambition of the Emperor, and enrichment of the evil men who kept him in power. Instead of separation of powers, all power resided in a despot, the Roman Emperor.


No nation is exempt from change. Change can be harnessed and directed toward public good or public evil. Since 1913, the predominant amendments to the American governing system in response to change  have been imposed by presidents and scotus acting outside of their prescribed limits. Power has all but collapsed into an imperial president aided by fellow travelers at the scotus.

The well-known foundation of both Roman and American republican liberty is separation of powers. With it, freedom has a chance; without it, free government is impossible. Doing nothing other than voting in the hope that someday, the men and women in Washington, DC will “follow the constitution we have,” is just silly.

We are the many; our oppressors are the few. Be proactive. Be a Re-Founder. Join Convention of States.

Sign our COS Petition.

11 thoughts on “On the Inevitable Changes to Republican Forms

  1. cliff wilkin

    Thank you Rodney. Love your historical references. As has been pointed out those that:
    “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”

    The quote is most likely due to George Santayana, and in its original form it read, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’

    Socialism has failed and killed (21 – 70 million). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_killings_under_Communist_regimes

    Visit http://www.conventionofstates.com to learn how you can support domestic freedom fighters.

  2. Carol Menges

    Check out the website, sign the online petition that goes to your state legislators, and volunteer to help patriots throughout the nation. There are many legislative districts that still need District Captains within states. Take that on whether you live in a particular district or not. There are wonderful Tuesday evening online training calls (9:00 PM Eastern Time; they’re also recorded for watching at your convenience) that have been enormously helpful to me. They’re informative and inspirational. You’re needed on deck! http://www.conventionofstates.com

  3. Gary Rosenbaum

    Great article, Rodney and thanks for all you do for COS!!
    Our choice this year is probably the worst of the past 100 years as to the lesser of two evils. Do we pick an avowed progressive who will use a willing congress and her phone and pen to finish the dreams of the early 20th century progressives? Or will we pick a nationalist who leads us as the king of which God warned the Israelite’s? In essence it does not matter, evil is still evil.

    The task before us is not an easy one, power is not easily wrested from those who are entwined in it’s loving arms. Each of us has to make the choice. It is like a marriage, if both agree it is forever then nothing stops them. If either one decides it’s not worth the effort, it is doomed. Is our Republic worth the effort?

    Visit here to learn more, sign the petition, and volunteer: http://www.cosaction.com/?recruiter_id=1636326

  4. Fred Yerrick

    Our Founding Fathers gave us a Republic with the stipulation that Enlightened Citizens would be needed to maintain her! Sad to say, we are failing on both accounts. I gave a COS presentation recently and had to explain to the majority of the group, what a Civics Class was back in my 60s High School days. How sad, we have so much information at our finger tips but fail to seek the truth. Please join us at conventionofstates.com. We thank you!

    1. Rodney Dodsworth Post author

      Well said. I’d heard that civics wasn’t taught in many public high schools. How awful. Yes, so much more information is available, yet so little of it is actually used toward noble purposes, like seeking the truth.

  5. Don Sutton

    Keep them coming Rodney! Will the current regime finally wake up and solve the structural problems that have evolved over one hundred years of Progressivism? We at conventionofstates.com are skeptical. REALLY skeptical.

    “The Budget should be balanced,
    the Treasury should be refilled,
    public debt should be reduced,
    the arrogance of officialdom should be
    tempered and controlled,
    and the assistance to foreign lands should be
    curtailed, lest Rome will become bankrupt.
    People must again learn to work
    instead of living on public assistance.”
    Cicero, 55 BC
    So, evidently we’ve learned nothing at all over the past 2,071 years.

    “The national debt—that is, the unfunded liabilities and fiscal operating debt—amounts to tens of trillions of dollars. The Government Accountability Office, the Congressional Budget Office, and numerous other public and private institutions have sounded warning alarms about the oncoming crash. But no serious or effective steps have been taken to address this simmering financial and economic implosion.”
    ― Mark R. Levin, Plunder and Deceit: Big Government’s Exploitation of Young People and the Future

    “CAN WE SIMULTANEOUSLY LOVE our children but betray their generation and generations yet born?”
    ― Mark R. Levin, Plunder and Deceit: Big Government’s Exploitation of Young People and the Future

    “To sit back hoping that someday, someway, someone will make things right is to go on feeding the crocodile, hoping he will eat you last – but eat you he will”

    Ronald Reagan

    Wait for the Tyrannical Federal Government to devour the Civil Society or join us.


  6. Lon LeBlanc

    Good one, Rodney….as usual. It would be a great luxury if we could go about our daily lives, with never a thought or worry about our rights being taken away. Unfortunately, just as I lock my doors each evening, and before leaving the house, we need to be just as careful and watchful over our Constitution.

    The Founders, as much as possible, attempted to craft a document that would protect the “plebes” and control the appetite of the patricians. Human nature being what it is, despots will always attempt to change, manipulate, reinterpret, and just generally chip away at anything which stands between them and power and money. Even penalties won’t stop them, if they have taken control of whether they should be penalized, or not. (See: Scandal, Email, Hillary).

    A Convention of States is (sadly) the only remaining answer to regaining control of a government that has proven itself incapable of controlling itself.

  7. George

    Your work and truthful explanation is very good and well received well and should be read by all those that probably won’t come within 10 miles of anything with the word Constitution in it.
    Great work and look forward to more.

  8. GaryWood

    The facade we are still operating under the U.S. Constitution is even eroding, glaring proof of our fall from federalism is clearer today than at any time in our history. Democratic socialism is openly cheered, bureaucracy is out of control at all levels, and the majority/minority party positions in our legislative branches are aiding in the final transformation progressive efforts drive toward. Risk is found in not calling for an Article V convention.

    Of all the organizations that see this as a viable path the one group with a controllable agenda, the group that I have found to be the least risky, is the Convention of States. For me it would be a shame to only call a convention for a single proposal, like a balanced budget or term limits. This is the main reason I fully support the agenda presented by the team behind the Convention of States movement. If you have not reviewed this important agenda please do so and get behind the efforts in your states. http://www.conventionofstates.com/proposed_rules.

    I’ve been a student of our federalist republic since taking my first Oath of Office in 1976. The decades of study has led me beyond the fears some speak of, a runaway convention that will destroy our constitutional order. In my years of study, teaching, and learning about the science of government a federalist republic is still the best system we can have for living as a free country. American Federalism is about to be destroyed, we cannot protect it by not using the tools the framers and founders fought to ensure we had available. Just as the 10th Amendment can help stop federal abuses from new laws, rules, and regulations and Article V convention can help us solidify, modify, and improve the Supreme Law. Restoring federalism will not occur any other way, peacefully, in my humble view.

  9. Mike Codding

    It won’t matter who is in the oval office; Taxing, spending and regulations are out of control; we the people can change the way Washington operates with a set of Amendments to the constitution that limit both. Washington, DC, will never voluntarily relinquish power. The states must exercise Article V of the Constitution which offers the single best remedy for the crisis our nation is facing. Please ACT now; sign the petition and or volunteer below. Thank you for your commitment to restore limited constitutional government.

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