"A Republic, if you can keep it."
Most of us are acquainted with the remark by Benjamin Franklin as recorded in the notes of James McHenry, a delegate from Maryland, when Franklin was asked by a lady after the Constitutional Convention ended, "Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy?" "A republic," replied the Doctor, "if you can keep it."
What Franklin was no doubt referring to was the delicate and time consuming nature of the precious, freedom-preserving document they had just painstakingly authored, and the knowledge he had that it would take a constantly enlightened people to preserve it. Otherwise it would quickly fall into the other forms of government that history shows always results when a people let themselves be governed by the whims of men.
During his life of 81 years, Benjamin Franklin became a master student of human tendency throughout history. He understood what might be termed the "Pride Cycle." It follows these steps:
When people have real equality and freedom, which he felt this Constitution would provide, they always become prosperous, which is a blessing God always bestows upon a righteous people.
Over time, people tend to lose sight of the Godly source of their prosperity. This leads to class distinction driven by pride and arrogance. This is fueled by strife between the haves and the have-nots. The Fatherhood of God and the equal brotherhood of man are forgotten.
As internal contention and difficulties arise, less attention is paid to external challenges which brings wars from without and faltering economies and famines within, all leading to the demand for a leader with monarchial powers to "fix" it all. This leader usually gains more power by promising more to the "have-nots" who envy the "haves" and who become more numerous and politically powerful.
All these monarchial leaders know to do is to build a stronger bureaucracy with more and more centralized control over the people. Of course, to retain power, they promise more and more gifts to the growing class of poor who keep electing them to power.
Because of heavy government control and taxation, individual initiative falters and the economy produces less and less. In an attempt to keep the gifts flowing, the master-minds incur huge debts which cannot be paid back and eventually the whole economy collapses under the weight of regulation and debt. Chaos ensues, and, if the people are not conquered by a foreign enemy, the central government breaks apart and law and order breaks down. People are left to survive with what they have saved up during the good times. Hopefully, enough law and order can be had on a local level to provide some protection.
When the people have been sufficiently humbled again, maybe they will begin to remember the prosperity, freedom, and peace they enjoyed before and take steps to, once again, reestablish Constitutional freedom. As with all such attempts it will, no doubt, take the shedding of blood to restore.
Benjamin Franklin seemed to sense these patterns of human nature when, during the Constitutional Convention, made the following statements:
"Sir, there are two passions which have a powerful influence in the affairs of men. These are ambitions and avarice; the love of power and the love of money."
"Reasons will never be wanting for proposed augmentations [speaking of public salaries and political power]; and there will always be a party for giving more to the rulers, that the rulers may be able in return to give more to them."
"Hence, as all history informs us, there has been in every state and kingdom a constant kind of warfare between the governing and the governed, the one striving to obtain more for its support, and the other to pay less."
"But there is a natural inclination in mankind to kingly government. It sometimes relieves them from aristocratic domination. They had rather have one tyrant than 500. It gives more of the appearance of equality among citizens; and that they like."
The Constitution of the Unites States -
limited, divided, balanced - to keep the Republic
It is for these reasons that the Founders in the convention developed a form of government wherein power was limited, divided, and balanced. It is this delicate structure of government that Franklin knew would be difficult to keep if the people did not remain constantly educated and vigil.
When one studies the provisions of the Constitution, these concepts of limited, divided, and balanced power can be observed. In our Making of America textbook, each and every provision of the Constitution is identified-there are 287 of them if the amendments are included. When I teach these provisions to our seniors in high school, they can identify how these provisions limit, divide, and/or balance political power, thereby protecting the rights of the people. Many of these provisions are technical and procedural, such as the one which states a representative in the House must be 25 years of age. There are others, approximately 38 in number, which provide the meat, nerve, and sinew of the Constitution. These are the ones most important and are usually the ones most under attack.
Below is a table containing these precious 38 provisions. Column one gives the provision number in The Making of America textbook and column two indicates where to find it in the Constitution. The next column indicates how that provision was designed to protect the Republic. The last column shows how our Republic is slipping away by changing that provision. Surely, this is what Benjamin Franklin was referring to when he said, ".if you can keep it." We have not done a good job keeping the protective provisions of the Constitution.
|In Const.||How it kept the Republic (1) limited,
(2) divided, or (3) balanced
|How we our letting our Republic slip away|
|8||1.1.1||Only Congress can make laws (1)||Laws are now made by Ex. Order, Gov. agencies, and Fed. Courts|
|17||1.2.3||Direct taxes only by population (1)||Direct taxes on income, wealth, and inheritance|
|27||1.3.1||U. S. Senators appointed by state legislature to protect states' rights (3)||Senators now chosen by people. States have no protection in federal machinery.|
|67||1.7.1||All revenue bills must begin in House (1)||Senate originates some tax bills, such as Obamacare. People are not protected.|
|79||1.8.1||Federal spending only for whole nation (1)||Fed Gov. now spends money for individuals and special groups|
|80||1.8.1||Requires all taxes to be uniform (1)||Graduated income tax is not uniform|
|83||1.8.3||Congress to keep free flow of commerce regular between states (1)||Congress now regulates production, sale, and distribution|
|85||1.8.4||Congress to establish and enforce laws of immigration and naturalization (2)||U. S. is being literally invaded by foreigners, both good and bad|
|87||1.8.5||Congress empowered only to coin money (gold and silver) and regulate its value. (1)||Congress abrogated its monetary role to private interests and allowed paper money to become legal tender.|
|93||1.8.10||Congress has sole authority to define crimes on high seas (1)||United Nations and other international bodies now make rules on high seas.|
|94||1.8.10||Congress has sole authority to define and punish crimes between nations which protects U. S. sovereignty (1)||United Nations and other international bodies now make international law which destroys U. S. sovereignty.|
|95||1.8.11||Only Congress can declare war (1)||The president now decides when to go to war.|
|97||1.8.11||Congress to make rules for captured people or land (1)||International bodies now make rules for POWs and captured land.|
|101||1.8.15||Only Congress can build a large military by calling up state militia units (1)||The president now builds himself a military by calling up state militias.|
|105||1.8.17||Fed. Gov. can only own land in states for forts, arsenals, dock-yards, and buildings (3)||Huge federal land holdings now exist for federal forests, parks, environmental areas, etc.|
|106||1.8.18||Necessary and proper authority only to be used to carry out delegated powers (1)||Elastic clause used for whatever power is needed to do about anything far beyond delegated powers.|
|111||1.9.3||Congress cannot pass ex post facto laws (1)||Any new law which affects current rights is ex post facto.|
|113||1.9.4||Direct taxes only by population (1)||Direct taxes on income, wealth, and inheritance|
|117||1.9.7||No federal money spent except by appropriation by Congress (1)||Congress has invented several ways to make expenditures which increase automatically without appropriation.|
|124||1.10.1||No state can pay debts except with gold and silver (1)||Congress and the president has destroyed states' ability to use gold and silver by making paper money legal tender.|
|127||1.10.1||Government cannot impair contracts (1)||Both federal and state government interfere with private contracts by changing mortgage agreements, requiring paper money for payment, etc.|
|138||2.1.3||President to be nominated by electors and chosen by House if no majority (2)||Political parties have destroyed the Founders' wisdom in choosing a president, thereby allowing unqualified men assume the office.|
|148||2.1.7||President to take an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution (1)||President flaunts Constitution rather than protect and defend it.|
|158||2.3||President must only suggest to Congress laws for the entire nation (1)||President endorses huge sums of money in bills designed to benefit special interest groups.|
|183||3.2.3||Jury trial required in all federal criminal cases. Juries to decide both facts and law. (3)||Jury should be trained to decide both facts and law in a case. Many judges insist the jury only decides the facts.|
|186||3.3.1||Giving aid and comfort to enemy is treason. (3)||Court has ruled there is no enemy unless a war is actually declared, hence no treason.|
|200||4.3.2||Only Congress can dispose of federal territory.(3)||Panama Canal was given away by treaty without the House.|
|202||4.4||States are guaranteed a republican form of government. (3)||Democracy elements such as initiative and referendums are causing people to pass unwise legislation.|
|203||4.4||Congress to guarantee states against invasion of their sovereign territory (3)||Border states are being invaded by foreign nationals who are flooding into U.S.|
|210||6.2||Supreme law of land consists of: Constitution, and federal laws and treaties which are constitutional. (2)||Constitution is being violated by both unconstitutional federal law and unconstitutional treaties.|
|Congress prohibited from dealing with religious denomination issues. (1)||All levels of government now must be religion neutral.|
|219||Amend 2||Congress prohibited from dealing with firearms issues (3)||Federal government is unconstitutionally dealing with laws concerning arms.|
|221||Amend 4||Federal government prohibited from invading a person's privacy. (1)||Income tax cannot be enforced without violating a person's 4 th amendment rights|
|229||Amend 5||No private property may be taken without just compensation. (1)||Federal government is restricting private property usage through environmental laws.|
|230||Amend 6||Federal courts required to have speedy and public trial. (1)||Trials are delayed so long sometimes they become very expensive and deny justice.|
|242||Amend 10||Enumerated powers not delegated are reserved to the states or the people. (3)||Most violated of all provisions because fed Gov is doing so much|
|252||Amend 14||Citizenship by birth only applies to those under jurisdiction of the U.S. (1)||Those in the country illegally, plus children of ambassadors, foreign students, etc. should not have automatic citizenship.|
|254||Amend 14||Federal government was not intended to be a watch-dog over the states. People in the states are to solve state's problems. (3)||Federal government is now watching every move of the states and threatening to withhold federal funds if states don't comply with federal mandates.|
This is what Benjamin Franklin was afraid would happen. Out of ignorance or intent, the people would let the above important provisions be ignored or violated and their Republic would gradually slip from their hands. He is credited with saying:
"A nation of well-informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins."
NCCS introduces new study materials
for personal, family, and other group gathering
During the month of January, NCCS will produce a dynamic course entitled "Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land." It will be a full-color 230-page study guide, complete with audio and video recordings covering all 28 Principles of Liberty and the entire U. S. Constitution. It is anticipated to be a 15-18 hour course that will take advantage of all the formats available-live, internet, DVD, audio CD, etc. The goal of NCCS is to teach the Founders' formula for freedom in a more complete, yet compact manner than ever before.
Let's make the United States Constitution the most widely read document of 2013.
Happy New Year,
Earl Taylor, Jr.