The 'Right' and 'Duty' to Throw Off Unjust Government
by CHRIS CARTER
August 2, 2010
The Declaration of Independence states that our government derives its just – or lawful – powers from the “consent of the governed.” The underlying principle implied in the Declaration was that “We the People” are the true and rightful government of the United States, and as Abraham Lincoln declared in his Gettysburg Address, “government of the people by the people and for the people shall not perish from this earth.” Elected and appointed officials are managers selected to work on our behalf in order to accomplish our collective will. We do not, however, elect them to dictate what our will is, or should be.
However, in the event that our government becomes one consisting of rulers rather than representatives, our government determined over 200 years ago what our course of action should be.
On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee introduced a resolution to the Second Continental Congress proposing that the thirteen American colonies declare independence from Great Britain. After they consulted with their respective colonies, Congress approved the resolution on July 2. The wording was not approved until two days later, when 56 American patriots would sign “the unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,” more commonly known as the Declaration of Independence.
The Declaration's authors listed numerous grievances perpetrated by Britain's King George III: abolishing the colonies' laws and representative houses, depriving colonists of their right to trial by jury, trying colonists in overseas kangaroo courts for phony charges, imposing taxes without consent, inciting insurgencies against the colonists, conducting mock trials on British troops charged with murdering colonists, forcing American prisoners to fight against other Americans, and for declaring war on the colonies – the Revolutionary War began fourteen months before Lee introduced his resolution.
But these “repeated injuries and usurpations” were all symptoms of a much larger disease. The founding fathers didn't declare independence from mock trials and taxation without representation. King George had established “absolute Tyranny” over the colonies, and that tyranny is what drove America to declaring independence.
The Declaration not only absolved our ties with the tyrannical ruler of Great Britain, the document also established individual rights that no man or government could encroach upon:
“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...”
Although our Constitution would not be ratified for another twelve years, the foundations had been laid for a people that – in theory – would no longer suffer under tyranny. Government could no more intrude on our unalienable rights than could an armed citizen walk into the Oval Office of the White House.
But has today's Federal government alienated American citizens from our unalienable rights? It is a sad truth that throughout human history, tyrants have used a mire of endless minutiae to obscure corrupt and manipulative power plays. The current state of political maneuvering seems to reflect this ongoing historic trend.
How much of Washington's activity is “just” when you consider that Article Ten of the Bill of Rights states that the Federal government only has the power to do what is enumerated in the Constitution. It is telling to mention that a bill has been introduced in each Congress since 1995, stating only that Congress cite where the Constitution grants them the enumerated power to enact each piece of legislation. Rather than leaving the American people to wonder if any legislation was constitutional, we could see the article, section, and clause that grants Congress the authority. As simple and necessary as that sounds, no session of Congress has allowed that bill to reach a vote. If Congress was operating within their authority, wouldn't it make sense that they would want to prove that they were doing so?
While our elected officials haven't necessarily “plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, [or] burnt our towns,” at least in an overt sense, they have repeatedly gone against the will of the people. A great number of Americans have expressed opposition to much of our government's agenda, which indicates that they no longer have the “consent” of a considerable percentage of the “governed.”
In the event that Americans find themselves at odds with their government, the Declaration tells us:
“... That 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 affect their Safety and Happiness.”
Unfortunately for the signers of the Declaration, King George most certainly did not see declaring independence as a right. Elitists almost never recognize the legitimate rights of others. But according to our nation's own foundational text, we now have that right:
“... when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.”
Our government has not yet driven us to “absolute Despotism,” but recent trends indicate that we could be headed in that direction. Additionally, an orchestrated and deliberate propaganda campaign is underway, aimed at squelching any opposition: those who take a stand in favor of the Constitution, limited government, and the principles listed in the Declaration and Constitution are being labeled as “extremists.” If supporters of the government's founding principles are considered extremists, then what does that make the government?
We certainly have not have reached the point of revolution yet, but we can “overthrow” the government – although on a smaller scale – at the voting booth. Will November's elections prove enough to return Washington to a government “of the people by the people and for the people?” We shall see.
In the movie The Patriot, the fictional character Benjamin Martin stated: “Why should I trade one tyrant 3,000 miles away for 3,000 tyrants one mile away? An elected legislature can trample a man's rights as easily as a king can.” Many real American patriots probably expressed that same sentiment – a sentiment that could prove true for modern-day Americans in coming months. Over 200 years after the colonies declared independence from King George's tyranny, the United States has slowly devolved into a government that has in some ways has begun to resemble his rule. It appears that tyrants come in many guises.
In summary, if our government chooses to violate our unalienable rights; if our government chooses to pass unjust laws, contrary to the consent of the governed; if our government chooses to take despotic actions that reduce us to servitude of the government, or some political agenda – then we have a right and a duty according to the Declaration of Independence to “throw off such Government.” Because regardless whether it comes from one tyrant in London or 3,000 tyrants in Washington, D.C., tyranny – in all its forms – must be passionately fought until it is defeated.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Chris Carter is the Director of the Victory Institute – an action institution and veterans service organization promoting matters that affect the liberty and security of the American family and writes for The US Report. Visit him online at The Victory Institute.