One of the less understood yet revolutionary features of our governing forms is the built-in retention of the sovereign people’s authority to affect peaceful improvements to our state and national governments. Our new contribution to politics was the idea of provisions for reformation, of enabling society to return to first principles. As opposed to the beliefs of Article V opponents, this first principle of the American Revolution is, per James Wilson, “Not a principle of discord, rancor, or war; it is a principle of melioration, contentment and peace.”
Article V institutionalized and legitimated peaceful revolution.1
Somewhere along the way, our revolution took a wrong turn. Over time, two great depositories of despotism wormed their ways into our national governing form, the Administrative State and Scotus.
Regular readers of Article V Blog are familiar with squibs in which I place the blame squarely on the 17th Amendment. The 17A, ratified in the name of ‘progress’, kicked the corrupt states out of the senate and replaced them with at-large statewide representatives of the good and pure people, or so the storyline went. As it worked out, Senators no longer responsible to their corporate states no longer defended the 10th Amendment. From this error, popularly derived Senators breezily consent to social justice judges, most of whom would rather do away with the states. FDR’s legacy wasn’t just the New Deal and winning WWII; it was Progressive domination of the third branch of government enabled by the 17th Amendment.
Our judiciary regularly usurps Article V. On its own, Scotus legitimated social justice and amends state and national Constitutions at-will.
Of course, per Article V opponents, if only Congress did its duty, it could easily eradicate both the Administrative State and de-nut a Scotus so full-of-itself, that it would, if it could, delete the first two paragraphs of our Declaration of Independence. But, being popularly derived, members of both chambers of congress fear media criticism, especially organized media campaigns. To keep one’s job, the wise member of Congress avoids all controversy, and goes along to get along without concern for the Constitution or the general welfare. Self-reform of Congress is a fantasy.
But, our Declaration and Constitution as written, while ignored, are still there. Until the Left formally (somehow) deletes the stirring passages from our Declaration and the Preamble to our Constitution, they remain the signposts to American Progress. If modern Progressives were truly progressive, the progressive man would recognize and admit to mistakes, when he took the wrong road. The 17A is the proven path to what we’ve witnessed in recent years: accelerating despotism and violent revolution. Real progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road. Yes, after 80 years of an easy downhill slide, the walk back up will be difficult and treacherous, yet there is nothing progressive about being pig-headed and refusing to admit a mistake.
In 1792, taking his cue from Montesquieu’s The Spirit of the Laws, James Madison wrote that governments were better divided into those which derived their energy from military force, those which operated by corrupt influence, and those which relied on the will and interest of society. A republic which began as one that relied on the will and interest of society subject to a written Constitution, had degraded to one that operates today on corrupt interest and force.
While we don’t stare at bayonets at every turn as despotic government grows, so too have internal police forces grown to protect the persons of our oppressors. Since 9/11/01, every government building office I’ve entered is with the understanding that I give up my 4th Amendment right to unreasonable searches and seizures to obey government’s demands for taxes, jury duty, get a building permit or occupational license, etc.
Yet, the most powerful force today isn’t military or police. It is lawfare, abuse of the law by progressives and sanctioned by a social justice Scotus to destroy the lives of their enemies such as Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, TX Representative Tom Delay, and Alaska Senator Ted Stevens. Of course, the epitome of destructive lawfare is the ongoing coup d’état’ against President Trump, his family, his associates, and in turn, the American Republic itself.
The always present threat of lawfare is not only a powerful inducement to keep one’s head down, it works to turn once-conservative politicians. Why buck the system and face personal destruction when the alternative is wealth and power, the ‘avarice and ambition’ which Benjamin Franklin observed motivates us all?
James Madison warned, “the great danger to liberty, was if each individual may become insignificant in his own eyes – the very foundation of republican government.” 2 While Madison’s sentence structure is odd, a declarative sentence followed by a fragment, the meaning is clear. The foundation of republican government is an engaged society whose members regard themselves as essential to the continuance of a prosperous and happy nation, i.e. a continuing, peaceful revolution. Once individuals view themselves as insignificant, they relinquish public liberty and sentence themselves to a life of miserable obedience.
This is the viewpoint of Article V opponents; like the abused wife, we are too insignificant to raise our heads in opposition to accelerating despotism. If this is true, if society is unwilling to peacefully return to first principles, then the American Revolution is over, and at some future time another revolution, a violent revolution, will replace it. I say it isn’t so, I say Americans are ready, willing, and able to return to the first principles of free government.
We are the many; our oppressors are the few. Government is the playground of politicians, but the Constitution is ours. Be proactive. Restore the American Tradition. Join Convention of States.
1. Wood, G. S. (1969). The Creation of the American Republic 1776-1787. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. 614.
2. Ibid., 612.