You know, after a while, when things really don’t seem to make sense in the context from which you are used to viewing the world, you start to wonder if your context is still valid. I am beginning to get that way with the Obama administration.
As Americans, we tend to think that when it comes to large things, such as our country, our government, and our constitutional liberties and freedoms, things will continue to go pretty much as they always have. When it comes to things that are “too big to fail”, for most of us America heads the list.
Administrations will come and go. Sometimes the Republican’s will be in power, sometimes it’s the Democrats; but whoever it is, there is little doubt in the minds of most of us that the Republic will go on. Policies change, people change, and America changes, slowly around the edges, but at the core, most of us believe, the strong foundational principles remain, the constitution remains, and life goes on.
We take our freedoms for granted. Of course, we have the right to free speech. Of course, we have the right to practice the religion of our choice. Of course, our press is free to report what it likes without fear of government interference. These rights are enshrined in the Constitution of the United States, that document that tells the Government what it is permitted to do and what it is not permitted to do. Most of us seldom take the time, or even have the understanding, to contemplate how unnatural this approach is in the history of the world, a history marked most frequently by the tyranny of dictatorships and the divine rights of kings. 
Despite the fact that they lived over 250 years ago, our founders were intelligent men, learned and well read. They studied history, and despite the flaws in our founding, attempted to learn from history and fashion a country unlike any ever before attempted in the history of the world. Their challenge? To bond together people with disparate histories from disparate countries, some of whom had been at war with each other from time to time, into a new nation based not on the divine right of kings, but on the rule of law; and to do so in such a fashion as to withstand the test of time.
They selected as their format, not a pure democracy, but a republic; a representative democracy. Why? Not for purposes of control, or because they thought the people too stupid to govern themselves directly, but because history has shown pure democracies to be unstable. They work ok in small, homogeneous societies, but they don’t scale very well. And they tend to not protect (or even tolerate) minority interests; at best being indifferent, at worst disintegrating into mob rule.
Historically, democracies don’t tend to last very long once the people exercising direct control via their vote discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury.
So the founders built instead a democratic republic, a representative democracy, where elected individuals represent the people, and are charged with the responsibility of acting in the people’s interest. Furthermore, they constructed a system of checks and balances between all the parts of government so that no one branch could gain power and ascendency over the other, and codified these rules into a written constitution. The intent here was to keep the structure from degenerating over time into a tyranny.
The government they built was not intended to be efficient. It was designed to dilute the power of government and allow the people of the United States to live in freedom. The powers of government were intended to be few and defined, with the bulk of the power reserved for the sovereign states and the people. The federal government was envisioned as the glue that gave the nation identity, regulated trade between the states, and protected us from foreign domination.
When it comes to the single most important guarantor of our freedoms as Americans, one document stands supreme; the U.S. Constitution. Not only does it set forth the structure of our government, but in its first 10 amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, it puts into print areas in which the government is not allowed to tread. When the constitution was being written, there was lively debate as to whether or not such definitions were necessary.
Alexander Hamilton argued that they were not. He and others argued that ratification of the Constitution did not deprive the people of any rights they currently enjoyed, and he was afraid that enumerating specific rights might imply that any rights not mentioned did not exist and would not be protected. In effect, Hamilton, and those who agreed with him (the Federalists), feared that adding the Bill of Rights to the constitution would have the effect of limiting their rights to only those specified. For this reason, the ninth amendment, “the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people”, was added.
On the other side of the argument, Thomas Jefferson and other anti-Federalists, to include John Adams and John Hancock, demanded that the Constitution be amended to include a Bill of Rights before they would consider ratifying it. They feared that a strong national government was a threat to individual rights. They were afraid that the President would ultimately become a king, and also did not like the federal court system the Constitution set up. Jefferson considered the Bill of Rights the least that could be done to ensure individual liberties, writing to Madison that “Half a loaf is better than no bread. If we cannot secure all our rights, let us secure what we can.”
Which brings me back to the present; our constitution has served us well for the past 222 years. It is the supreme law of the land. It is the foundation and source of all the legal authority underlying the existence of our country. It is the framework of our government, and the ultimate guarantor of our freedoms. It is the shortest and oldest written constitution of any major sovereign nation.
It is all that stands between us and tyranny; between us and dictatorship. Between us and the gulags of the former Soviet Union, the killing fields of Cambodia, or the anarchy of Darfur.
It is all that stands between us and those who would like to take America down a different path.
It is difficult to amend our constitution. In the 222 years it has been in existence, it has only been amended 27 times, and 10 of those were done immediately after ratification, and one was done to undo a previous change that didn’t work out as well as we thought it would.
It was deliberately made difficult to amend. The idea was that changes would not be made based on popular whim, but only after great deliberation. Changing the basic structure of our government and our society should not be undertaken lightly.
For those of us who believe in freedom, it is the foundation stone upon which all our rights are built, a dam against the power of government in our lives; where we have the free agency to determine our path in life. For those who want to radically change the direction our country is headed, it is an impediment, a tripping stone in the path to what they see as a better form of society where an enlightened government guides our lives.
Thus we hear from the left a constant barrage of comments against the constitution; it’s an old out-modeled document, sufficient for the 18th, 19th, and 20th century, but wholly unsuited for life in the 21st. It’s a living document; it means whatever we decide it means whenever we want to change the meaning. Thus we do not have to amend it – we can simply redefine its meaning. It means whatever five of the nine Supreme Court justices say it means, and all we have to do is ensure that we pick five justices that agree with our definitions.
But what if the constitution itself were no longer there? What if it were dispensed with entirely?
When the Confederacy seceded from the United States, it did not take the Constitution with it; a new Constitution was written for the Confederate States of America.
When the Soviet Union fell, and the Russian Federation took its place, the Soviet Constitution became null and void. The current Russian Constitution came into force on 25 December 1993, replacing the previous Soviet constitution.
Were the United States to fall, in a manner similar to the Soviet Union, it would not mean necessarily that territorially the United States would change. However our governmental structure and the rights guaranteed under our constitution could change radically as both were tossed on the ashbin of history, to join the Soviet Union, and a new government of some sort, with a new mandate, constitutional or otherwise, would spring into being.
A new government, with a new mandate, unfettered by the “restrictions” imposed on it by our current Federal Constitution. A liberal minded government, preaching liberty, freedom, and equality for the people, but holding the reins of power tightly to its breast, doling out those “rights” they deem appropriate to the groups they favor and stamping out those they deem “undesirable.”
Organized religion? Bad. Undesirable. Spewing hate-speech from the pulpit against those different from themselves. Allowed to exist but tightly controlled, regulated, and taxed; those who attend, on government lists of potential trouble makers, and unable to rise very high in government service or society as a whole.
Private ownership of firearms? Denied. In the people’s utopia that is the People’s Republic of America, why would anyone need such? No good could come of it.
Homeschooling? Denied. All children are wards of the state, whose upbringing and education must be carefully monitored to ensure a compliant, homogeneous society. Denying children their “right” to be schooled with their peers is child abuse.
Free speech? Only speech within proscribed government channels is permitted. Anyone speaking out against government policies, leaders, or programs is an enemy of the state and will be treated accordingly. Any speech not in accordance with government doctrines and proscriptions is hate-speech and will be dealt with using the full force of the law. Free and open debate of opposing ideas will not be allowed, since that would be divisive and counterproductive to the smooth operation of the state, whose enlightened and humanitarian policies are for the betterment of all Americans. This being axiomatic, any opposition to them clearly must be evil.
These are but a few examples. There are many. And how might this come about? How might a free society willingly disband itself and turn over the reins of power to a totalitarian state?
Germany did it in 1933 when they elected Adolph Hitler to power.
It is fashionable to look at that election and conclude it to be an aberration. In fact, studies have shown that “the most widely accepted existing theories of this era cannot distinguish the Weimar elections from almost any others in any country. [-] The consequences of Hitler’s election were extraordinary, but the voting behavior that led to it was not.”
Could such a thing happen today? Yes it could, however our constitution offers quite a bit of protection that the Weimar Republic’s did not. Any attempt by a president to seize power in a manner similar to the way Hitler did would be difficult to engineer.
But what if the government failed? What if mounting debt forced a collapse of the dollar to waste-paper status on par with the Zimbabwe Dollar, whose inflation rate currently stands (as of this writing) at 231,000,000% per year. What if the American people, scared, hungry, confused, seeing everything they had worked for disappear, demanded a change.
And what if a charismatic leader stood up and, decrying the “rich”, who had brought about this mess, and capitalism, which had obviously failed, and a previous corrupt administration who by deregulation and turning a blind eye to the deprecations of various fat-cat cronies in the business world had allowed the collapse to take hold and snowball beyond any hope of recovery, then claimed to have a means to reverse it all and end the suffering? It wouldn’t be easy, he might claim. And it would take a while, but in the end, under his enlightened leadership, there would be light at the end of the tunnel, and America would once again become a prosperous nation, with free health care, guaranteed jobs, and secure retirements for all Americans.
Would Americans give up their liberty in exchange for promised security? Franklin said that anyone who would do so deserves neither. But how many in this country today know or care what Franklin may or may not have said?
When you see things going on with our government that seem to make no sense in the context of a free and secure America; when you see things happening that seem to be to our nation’s detriment instead of the common good, it’s worth asking yourself “is this due to ineptitude, naivety, or perhaps, just a different political philosophy?” Or is there an ulterior plan afoot that we don’t see. Are the things we see happening that seem crazy in our context, perfectly sane and rational in a context we are missing?
Napoleon Bonaparte once said “never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.” And maybe that is the case here. Probably so. On the other hand it has also been said that just because you are paranoid, that does not necessarily mean that they aren’t out to get you.
So who knows? Still, it’s worth considering if for no other reason than it being a different way of looking at the problem. Thinking outside the box can suggest solutions to problems that would not have occurred otherwise. Besides, as a general rule of thumb, politicians are sly, devious and bear considerable watching. It is up to us, the putative owners of our country, to watch them very carefully and prune them back when they get too unruly.
I stated earlier that the Constitution is the ultimate guarantor of our freedoms. That was incorrect. In the end, the Constitution is just a piece of paper. In reality, as it states at the beginning of the document, it is “we the people” who are the ultimate guarantor of our freedoms. We either accept that responsibility, or we pass it on to someone else. If we shirk, we not only run the risk of losing the freedoms we accept as our birthright, we guarantee that sooner or later those freedoms will be taken from us. And once that happens, it will take more than a simple trip to the ballot box to gain them back. It will take years of blood, sweat, tears and toil; of death and destruction, and no guarantee of success at the end.
Is there a plot to end America as we know it, tear up the Constitution, and start over again with some other form of government that promises more but ultimately delivers less and leaves us much less free in the process? I don’t know. I hope not.
What I do know is that it is far easier to get involved now and ensure we keep our essential liberties than it is to attempt to reacquire them once they are gone.
 As an example, take this article by David Kupelian. It illustrates the point nicely.
 That is the “official” inflation rate. Forbes Asia puts the number closer to 6.5 x 10108 % (65 followed by 108 zeros). Just to give you an idea of how big this number is, it is estimated that the number of stars in the universe is something on the order of 1024