Did you ever stand alone for something you believed against all odds? These men did precisely that: Algernon Sidney was beheaded for it. John Locke wrote about it. Alexander Hamilton declared it. James Madison did something about it. What deep-seated belief caused these men to stand up against all odds to proclaim their message? It was this: We the People ultimately run the Government.
“We the People,” those three enormous words with lightning bolt meaning, introduce our U.S. Constitution. It is no accident that our Supreme law of the land starts this way. You see, the English royal families believed in what they called “The Divine Right of Kings.” The British subjects of the 17th century saw no divine right to rule by birth alone. Algernon Sidney promoted the idea that “the right to rule is actually in the people and therefore no person can rightfully rule the people without their consent.” For this assertion, he was beheaded.
John Locke posited that those who govern derive their power from the consent of the governed. The belief that the divine right of power belongs to the consent of the governed (you and me), not to kings, rulers, or any other self-imposed authority, caused a stir. It still does, even to this very day. Locke’s writings mentored our Founders.
Alexander Hamilton declared in the Federalist 22: “The fabric of (the) American empire ought to rest on the solid basis of the consent of the people. The streams of national power ought to flow immediately from that pure, original fountain of all legitimate authority.” Isn’t that refreshing?
James Madison, the Father of the U.S. Constitution, realized that many Americans were afraid of this new document because “they felt a federal government was being given autocratic authority.” He reassured them that “the ultimate authority, wherever the derivative may be found, resides in the people alone.” (Federalist 46)
You may be wondering why this is relevant today. Could our U.S. Constitution be the Supreme Law of the Land, but another philosophy is at work in our Government today? Even our earliest Americans were afraid of autocratic authority, yet isn’t that what we are dealing with today? One set of laws exists, but another set of unwritten “laws” governs against it?
I have observed in life that there is authority and responsibility. If one entity has all the authority but not the responsibility, there is conflict. The reverse is also true. If one has all the responsibility but not the authority, there is no peace. No cohesiveness, only tension.
Think about these things. We the People need to line up the responsibilities of citizenship with the authority of governing. If we “hire” our fellow citizens to govern and they embrace the authority but not responsibility for upholding the Constitution, we need to vote them out of office. Then, when we accept our responsibilities and our authority as citizens (not leaving it to someone else to figure out), we will begin to be united again.
This is Common Sense Civics and Citizenship.🇺🇸