These are the times that try men's souls

Dec 5 2012 - 2:32pm

We have just gone through one of the most heated and controversial Presidential elections in recent memory.  It is obvious that the country's political thought is split right down the middle. About 50 percent voted Republican and about the same Democrat.  Each party espousing an agenda juxtaposed to the other.

 It is a sad thing when, in this Constitutional Republic, ideologies are so far apart in thought, practice and agenda on how the federal government should function when the Constitution of the United States, having only about 4,450 words, very easy to read and understand, spells out those enumerated and restricted powers We the People granted it back in 1789.  Our Constitution is a Contract, a Covenant, and a Compact wherein the terms are set.  Any contract, to be valid must have five components.  There must be an offer, there must be an acceptance, there must be performance, there must be consideration and finally...there must be a remedy if any party violates its part of the Contract.

 

We the People offered to the "government" the powers to govern us.  In other words, we consented to their governing us, but restricted the power to enumerated and specific ones.  All the rest were left to the States and the People.  Those to whom we granted the power accepted the governance and those restrictions placed on them and swore an oath to support and defend it.  The performance is that the government would perform solely within those boundaries we set for it and We the People would perform by abiding by the law and supporting and defending the Constitution/Contract. The consideration is the protection of our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and all other rights, of We the People and the governing bodies would be allowed to continue governing with our consent.  The remedy, meaning if the government fails to perform its duties to govern by those rules set in that Contract or goes beyond those boundaries set therein, was spelled out in the Declaration of Independence itself.  James Madison, considered the Father of the Constitution, said "...all just and free government derives from social compact." 

 

Indeed, this is the basis of our government, found in the Declaration of Independence, which specifies that the "just powers" of government derive from the "consent of the governed."  The only source of legitimate rule, as already stated, is by the consent of those governed and the only reason for the consent of those who are being ruled and the only real or legitimate reason to give over that consent to another body is for the "safety and happiness" of those who agree to be governed.  However, (and here is where the "Remedy" lies), whenever that government acts in a way to disfranchise the people of their rights and/or fails to protect those rights, the People always reserve its right to alter or abolish the government in order to secure new forms that are better calculated to promote their "safety and happiness."  This is what is known as the right of revolution. An absolute right of the People to preserve their sovereignty, and in turn, that which is the ultimate guarantor of all other rights possessed by the People.  The power of the government comes from the People up. This right of the People to alter or altogether abolish government which has abused its powers is the only obligation which is mentioned in the Declaration of Independence because the sovereignty of the People is expressed in this manner if the terms of the Contract are broken by the government.

 

The United State Constitution states that "We the People... do ordain and establish... this Constitution."  The Constitution does not create the people, but rather, the People establish the Constitution.  The Declaration of Independence created People in their political capacities as "one people" and in their moral capacity as a "good People."  Madison said that once the People are established, a second Contract must be entered into, this time between the People, as a body in its political and moral capacities and those who would govern.  It is under this second Contract that the People consent to be governed under those restrictions enumerated therein and the government pledges to use its powers exclusively to "promote the general welfare" and "secure the blessings of liberty" to those living then and to their posterity.

 

I am not calling for revolution, but unless We the People bring the government back to the confines of the Constitution, a revolution will be our only remedy.  Our Republic is in dire straits.  Are we only going to be Sunshine Patriots and Summer Soldiers and shrink from the crisis?  These truly are times that try men's souls.

Crockett lives in Huntsville. He has taught American history and authored a book on the Constitution.

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