by Gary Barnett
I must say that I didn’t always feel this way, but I am now truly sick of hearing every day about how we should uphold, defend, and worship the U.S. Constitution. Yes, I am aware that if it were followed to the letter that we would all be somewhat better off, but was that ever the real intent? I think not.
As I perused an article recently in the Christian Science Monitor entitled “Why Do Americans Get the Constitution So Wrong” by Lion Calandra, I thought it was time to expose some of the misconceptions about our so-called reverent “founding” document. The first few words of that article set the stage for my rant.
The opening statement: “On this day, 223 years ago, the U.S. Constitution was born, giving Americans the freedoms that they hold dear, the freedoms that men and women have died to defend.”
Obviously, the author also got it wrong, because everything in the above sentence is patently false. Our freedoms did not come from any political class or due to any drafting of a political document. Our rights and freedoms are God-given and inherent. They are natural human rights, and cannot be bestowed by men! Our natural rights to life, liberty, and property encompass all others; this a fact barely acknowledged by most. Without the right to life and liberty, no other right can exist. With the right to life and liberty, all other rights are evident.
Also, the notion that men and women died to defend our freedoms can only be correct if one considers those very few who have died fighting against our own federal government’s encroachment against liberty. If the intent here is to laud those who died in warfare, then again, the author is completely wrong. Those who fight in wars are defending and serving the government, and therefore are harming freedom, not protecting it. This may seem a harsh statement to some, but it is this truth that escapes almost all Americans. If more understood this, we would all be much better off. War is the health of the state, and therefore is antithetical to freedom. U.S. wars are directly responsible for a more powerful government and less freedom; the opposite of what is taught in the government-run schools, and what political pundits constantly spew.
Why was the current U.S. constitution drafted and ratified in the first place? Was it because our founders believed that they were doing more to protect liberty? Did they think that this particular document would serve to expand and protect our freedoms? Were the Articles of Confederation, our constitution at the time, anti-freedom or inadequate? Did that constitution allow the federal government more or less power than the new one?
If one answers these questions honestly, many other questions will arise, and the answers to those questions may cause resentment to replace respect. In fact, our current constitution greatly expanded government power over the people, not the other way around, as most believe. Just consider one example: In the Articles of Confederation the federal government had no power to lay and collect (by force) taxes. Any money needed had to come voluntarily from the individual states. In Article 1, Section 8 of our current constitution, the federal government has virtually an unlimited power to tax. This fact alone should have been reason enough to not ratify the constitution 223 years ago. Of course, most of the rest of those powers given to Congress in Article 1, Section 8 should have also caused great concern for anyone sympathetic to liberty.
The Anti-federalists had it right all along. The Articles of Confederation were certainly not perfect, but that constitution was a damn sight better than the one we have now. One single reading of Article 1, Section 8 of the current U.S. Constitution should literally scare the living daylights out of all who believe in freedom and liberty. In my opinion, Hamilton and his followers were able to fool and then co-opt enough of the political leaders of the time to bring about a massive change; a change that ushered in a much more powerful central governing system. This was entirely by design in my opinion, and was never intended to advance and protect the freedom of the individual. Had that been the case, slavery would never have been sanctioned by that same document. Why this system is so revered is beyond me. It can only be due to long-term indoctrination. I have been told since childhood of the greatness of the constitution by peers, by the school system, by politicians, by the media, and by virtually everyone else able to utter the spoken word. Considering this, it is no wonder that this mediocre document is worshiped by so many.
It should be obvious that I am not attempting to fully explain or outline the constitution, nor am I attempting to put forth any expert legal opinion concerning it. This has been done over and over again. I am simply pointing out that this supreme law of the United States is not what it seems. Things are always done for a reason, and in my opinion, the constitution was drafted so as to expand the powers of the national government, and weaken the powers held by the individual states and the people. This has certainly been the end result. I think it is important to remember that many of the founders of this country, while courageous in their fight to free themselves from English rule, were still politicians, and as such had their own agendas. These agendas did not always run parallel with individual freedom, especially considering the Hamiltonians. While this may be hard to swallow for some, it is nonetheless true.
What does all this mean? In my mind, it simply means that a piece of paper does not freedom make. None of us gained freedom due to other men bestowing it upon us. None of us gained our freedom due to men drafting constitutional documents. We gain our freedom naturally at birth, and from that point forward, it is up to each individual to protect it. Freedom can only exist and thrive when individuals understand its importance and defend it at all costs. Not against monsters from abroad as is the opinion of most, but against our own government. No constitution can accomplish this, and any constitution is worthless without the ideas of freedom and liberty living in the hearts and minds of individuals willing to force its compliance. There are some who have the freedom philosophy living in their hearts and minds, but there are very few who are willing to risk all to fight for it. This dynamic will have to change before we again become truly free of this now tyrannical government.
I think the time has come for all of us to reevaluate the meaning of freedom. Freedom comes from within and is natural to the human species. Men cannot give freedom but men can take it away. All government operates by force, and force is the absolute opposite of freedom. Government is never a friend to liberty, so government should be held back and controlled. If some set of rules such as a constitution is the desired vehicle to accomplish order, then those set of rules should not only be strict and limited, but enforced by the people themselves. Without this control, we end up in 2010 America.
The following excerpt from Human Action thoroughly illustrates the antagonism between freedom and government:
It is important to remember that government interference always means either violent action or the threat of such action. The funds that a government spends for whatever purposes are levied by taxation. And taxes are paid because the taxpayers are afraid of offering resistance to the tax gatherers. They know that any disobedience or resistance is hopeless. As long as this is the state of affairs, the government is able to collect the money that it wants to spend. Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards, and hangmen. The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning. Those who are asking for more government interference are asking ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom.
I will put my faith in God, not men. I will have faith in freedom, not constitutions. Our salvation and return to liberty lies not in faith in men residing in the halls of congress, but in our belief in us as free and sovereign individuals.
Gary D. Barnett is president of Barnett Financial Services, Inc., in Lewistown, Montana.