Like love of oneself and family, love of country is a natural emotion. From a rational standpoint, what is not to like and love about the greatest force for good in world history?
I find pride in American citizenship. I am not the subject of a king, nor a slave in an islamic or authoritarian hell-hole, nor a proletarian ruled through fear by communist party thugs. To be a citizen is to be equal before law of our own making, not through direct democracy, but by representatives, our agents who craft law on our behalf. We the People are still the sovereign, the source of all earthly law.
John Adams recognized the essential nature of law and that without law, republics cannot survive. The self-perception, the self-regard of the people must be that of sovereign lawmakers who bind themselves and later generations. Yet why are we bound by what Leftist’s deride as the “dead hand of the past?” Not because current or past generations of representatives were sages, but precisely because no matter when laws were passed, we can amend, repeal, or replace the law today. Until then, old law, ridiculous law, bad law, stupid law, etc., are in effect and deserve at least grudging respect because they’re the product of past citizens and weren’t decreed by a king, caliph, or party leader.
A truly republican system allows future citizens, posterity, to revise what their forebears had done, but only within the framework of known law, which institutionalizes popular will. Adams grasped that republicanism could only survive if the will of the people was channeled through law.
At the root of our Framers’ fear was the conviction that the new American republic wasn’t proof against the fate of the “cycle of corruption, discontent, decay, and dissolution that enlightenment thinkers regarded as the law of nature.” The question lingered whether a revolutionary people could make fundamental law that would restrain the disorder that had fueled the Revolution only a generation before.”1
Republics put enormous responsibility on its members. Despite the risks, the ultimate guarantor of safety is the people’s authority to refashion the law.2 In recent generations, the law, both fundamental and statutory, has indeed been refashioned, but in large part not by the sovereign people or their agents. American law isn’t so much the output of Congress, but is instead the product of courts and the executive branch. In time, the will of the American people was largely cut off from the law.
Thanks to lawmaking by non-representatives, and as feared by Adams, the republic is in jeopardy. In response, some quietly advocate violence while others blame the people for not sending better men and women to corrupt institutions.
Since, in the eyes of Article V opponents, we are not virtuous enough to reform our government, they defend the status quo, a system whose corruption invites civil disorders and eventual anarchy. To deny an Article V COS to the sovereign people is to deny self-government itself. Rather than sentence posterity to the fate of other failed republics, we must implement the Framers’ gift, the law of Article V. Is a favorable outcome guaranteed? Of course not, and neither is an unfavorable outcome. But since love of country is natural, and no people ever knowingly sold themselves into slavery, reason informs us of either a beneficial outcome or no recommended changes at all from an Article V COS.
1. Hoffer, P. C. (1998). Law and People in Colonial America. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 152-153.
2. Ibid., 149.