"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." The Declaration of Independence
Each citizen should be aware that our rule of law is intended to protect each individual’s natural rights, i.e. to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The most critical component to natural rights philosophy is the understanding that my rights end where yours begin. While it is generally agreed that citizens communing in a society voluntarily forgo some rights for the greater good, it’s where the line is drawn that has people so divided.
For example, those who want less government intervention are less inclined to authorize the government to take what is earned by some individuals and redistribute it in the form of entitlements to other individuals. While we can all agree it is good to assist those in need (traditionally, this was done by community organizations and churches), one must always remember that in order to provide welfare, money is not collected but demanded from real people. They remain anonymous to those people benefitting from these now public funds, lending credence to the notion of a benevolent government.
"Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." The Declaration of Independence
The idea that governments are founded to protect the rights of people was an entirely new concept. Up until this point, those in power bestowed certain rights and privileges to their people. Though England had been evolving in this direction, the country still believed in the divine rights of kings. When the colonies revolted and won their freedom, it was understandable that they wouldn’t want to give up their hard earned sovereignty as independent nation states. Though they formed a confederation, very little power was yielded to a national governing body. So little authority was given that it could not perform the functions for which it was tasked. It was questionable whether we could maintain domestic tranquility, let alone the sovereign status we had earned. Something had to be done. This resulted in the formation of our U.S. Constitution.
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." Preamble to the U.S. Constitution
In order to form a more perfect union, each state agreed to yield some of their sovereign powers to the federal government. The power yielded to the federal government was divided into three branches. The goal was to make sure no one person or governmental body became too powerful. Citizens are considered citizens of both the state in which they reside, and their country.
When writing about current events, I endeavor to explain the Framer’s intentions for delineating specific powers as well as to point out how or why the balance of power may be compromised by past or present statutory or judicial decisions, administrative overreach, or what could be argued is governmental interference into private affairs. Those charged with making laws or rules should pause to consider how their adoption might be considered a perversion of power by the Founders and how our rights are affected by the passage of time. Understanding our rule of law from this perspective may change the role of our government from one of being tasked with making and enforcing law to one of studying how to repeal past directives to better defend our natural rights and maintain the sovereignty of our nation.