‘We the People’ Against Tyranny: Seven Principles for Free Government

Time to vote with our feet” through sustained, mass civil disobedience!

“As I look at America today, I am not afraid to say that I am afraid.”—Former presidential advisor Bertram Gross

As history teaches us, if the people have little or no knowledge of the basics of government and their rights, those who wield governmental power inevitably wield it excessively. After all, a citizenry can only hold its government accountable if it knows when the government oversteps its bounds.

Precisely because Americans are easily distracted—because, as study after study shows, they are clueless about their rights—because their elected officials no longer represent them—because Americans have been brainwashed into believing that their only duty as citizens is to vote—because the citizenry has failed to hold government officials accountable to abiding by the Constitution—because young people are no longer being taught the fundamentals of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, resulting in citizens who don’t even know they have rights—and because Americans continue to place their trust in politics to fix what’s wrong with this country—the American governmental scheme is sliding ever closer towards a pervasive authoritarianism.

This steady slide towards tyranny, meted out by militarized local and federal police and legalistic bureaucrats, has been carried forward by each successive president over the past fifty years regardless of their political affiliation.

Big government has grown bigger and the rights of the citizenry have grown smaller.

However, there are certain principles—principles that every American should know—which undergird the American system of government and form the basis for the freedoms our forefathers fought and died for.

The following seven principles are a good starting point for understanding what free government is really all about.

First, the maxim that power corrupts is an absolute truth. Realizing this, those who drafted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights held one principle sacrosanct: a distrust of all who hold governmental power. As James Madison, author of the Bill of Rights, proclaimed, “All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.” Moreover, in questions of power, Thomas Jefferson warned, “Let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” As such, those who drafted our founding documents would see today’s government as an out-of-control, unmanageable beast.

The second principle is that governments primarily exist to secure rights, an idea that is central to constitutionalism. In appointing the government as the guardian of the people’s rights, the people give it only certain, enumerated powers, which are laid out in a written constitution. The idea of a written constitution actualizes the two great themes of the Declaration of Independence: consent and protection of equal rights. Thus, the purpose of constitutionalism is to limit governmental power and ensure that the government performs its basic function: to preserve and protect our rights, especially our unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and our civil liberties. Unfortunately, the government today has discarded this principle and now sees itself as our master, not our servant. The obvious next step, unless we act soon, is tyranny.

The third principle revolves around the belief that no one is above the law, not even those who make the law.This is termed rule of law. Richard Nixon’s statement, “When the President does it, that means it is not illegal,” would have been an anathema to the Framers of the Constitution. If all people possess equal rights, the people who live under the laws must be allowed to participate in making those laws. By that same token, those who make the laws must live under the laws they make. However, today government officials at all levels often act as if they are royalty with salaries and perks that none of the rest of us are afforded. This is an egregious affront to the citizenry.

Fourth, separation of powers ensures that no single authority is entrusted with all the powers of government. People are not perfect, whether they are in government or out of it. As history makes clear, those in power tend to abuse it. The government is thus divided into three co-equal branches: legislative, executive and judicial. Placing all three powers in the same branch of government was considered the very definition of tyranny. The fact that the president today has dictatorial powers would have been considered a curse by the Framers.

Fifth, a system of checks and balances, essential if a constitutional government is to succeed, strengthens the separation of powers and prevents legislative despotism. Such checks and balances include dividing Congress into two houses, with different constituencies, term lengths, sizes and functions; granting the president a limited veto power over congressional legislation; and appointing an independent judiciary capable of reviewing ordinary legislation in light of the written Constitution, which is referred to as “judicial review.” The Framers feared that Congress could abuse its powers and potentially emerge as the tyrannous branch because it had the power to tax. But they did not anticipate the emergence of presidential powers as they have come to dominate modern government or the inordinate influence of corporate powers on governmental decision-making. Indeed, as recent academic studies now indicate, we are now ruled by a monied oligarchy that serves itself and not “we the people.”

Sixth, representation allows the people to have a voice in government by sending elected representatives to do their bidding while avoiding the need of each and every citizen to vote on every issue considered by government. In a country as large as the United States, it is not feasible to have direct participation in governmental affairs. Hence, we have a representative government. If the people don’t agree with how their representatives are conducting themselves, they can and should vote them out. However, as the citizenry has grown lazy and been distracted by the entertainment spectacles of modern society, government bureaucrats churn out numerous laws each year resulting in average citizens being rendered lawbreakers and jailed for what used to be considered normal behavior.

Finally, federalism is yet another constitutional device to limit the power of government by dividing power and, thus, preventing tyranny. In America, the levels of government generally break down into federal, state and local branches (which further divide into counties and towns or cities). Because local and particular interests differ from place to place, such interests are better handled at a more intimate level by local governments, not a bureaucratic national government. Remarking on the benefits of the American tradition of local self-government in the 1830s, the French historian Alexis de Tocqueville observed:

Local institutions are to liberty what primary schools are to science; they put it within the people’s reach; they teach people to appreciate its peaceful enjoyment and accustom them to make use of it. Without local institutions a nation may give itself a free government, but it has not got the spirit of liberty.

Unfortunately, we are now governed by top-heavy government emanating from Washington DC that has no respect for local institutions or traditions.

These seven vital principles have been largely forgotten in recent years, obscured by the haze of a centralized government, a citizenry that no longer thinks analytically, and schools that don’t adequately teach our young people about their history and their rights.

Yet here’s the rub: while Americans wander about in their brainwashed states, their “government of the people, by the people and for the people” has largely been taken away from them.

The answer: get un-brainwashed.

Learn your rights.

Stand up for the founding principles.

Make your voice and your vote count for more than just political posturing.

Never cease to vociferously protest the erosion of your freedoms at the local and national level.

Most of all, do these things today.

If we wait until the votes have all been counted or hang our hopes on our particular candidate to win and fix what’s wrong with the country, “we the people” will continue to lose.

Whether we ever realize it not, the enemy is not across party lines, as they would have us believe. It has us surrounded on all sides.

Even so, we’re not yet defeated.

We could still overcome our oppressors if we cared enough to join forces and launch a militant nonviolent revolution—a people’s revolution that starts locally and trickles upwards—but that will take some doing.

It will mean turning our backs on the political jousting contests taking place at all levels of government and rejecting their appointed jesters as false prophets. It will mean not allowing ourselves to be corralled like cattle and branded with political labels that have no meaning anymore. It will mean recognizing that all the evils that surround us today—endless wars, drone strikes, invasive surveillance, militarized police, poverty, asset forfeiture schemes, overcriminalization, etc.—are not of our making but came about as a way to control and profit from us.

It will mean “voting with our feet” through sustained, mass civil disobedience.

As journalist Chris Hedges points out, “There were once radicals in America, people who held fast to moral imperatives. They fought for the oppressed because it was right, not because it was easy or practical. They were willing to accept the state persecution that comes with open defiance. They had the courage of their convictions. They were not afraid.”

Ultimately, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, it will mean refusing to be divided, one against each other, by politics and instead uniting behind the only distinction that has ever mattered: “we the people” against tyranny.

# # # #

John W. Whitehead, Newsbud Contributing Author & Analyst,  is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. He is the president and spokesperson of the Rutherford Institute. Mr. Whitehead is the author of numerous books on a variety of legal and social issues, including A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Arkansas and a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law, and served as an officer in the United States Army from 1969 to 1971.

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Comments

  1. VoiceOf Arabi says:

    Hi John W Whitehead,

    That was powerful, yet very simple article. American people are the luckiest, and dumbest (i don’t mean disrespect) people out there…

    American people are the luckiest to have those the founding fathers draft those principles that can guarantee your freedom..

    American people are the dumbest for not tattooing those principles to their chest, and fighting for them with all they have…

    Sadly, they say people don’t appreciate what they have, until they lose it. I live in a police state, and I can tell you how this story ends….

  2. Montague Thielen says:

    In summary, the ideology of democratic rule has been usurped by capitalism. The system is completely broken. In Forbes annual issue of “lists”, it was reported that the top 20 wealthiest people in America, ( the list does not include the super rich families who are in control and who stopped counting their money long ago, such as the Morgans, Duponts, Fords, Carnegies, etc ) have the same net worth as the bottom up 150 MILLION people. That pretty much says it all.
    Mr. Whitehead is absolutely correct in his synopsis that only a revolution will foster any hope of unravelling the tangled yarn of this dysfunctional government. And that of most other supposed “democracies” as well. The only question is whether a peaceful movement will be enough, or have we gone past the tipping point towards defending ourselves by means of force from the very people who are supposed to be our protectors.
    Perhaps the most pressing question of our day is who will lead the charge? We are so desperately in need of leaders. 🙁

    • The only way forward is to create a surveillance society. One where we lord over them just as they currently lord over us. Anyone that comes to a position of government must be relegated to a poverty level lifestyle for the remainder of their lives and forced to live in colonies where they are surveilled 24-7-365. This would eliminate the reward for criminal behavior. And it would eliminate any posibility of blackmail by dirt. And it would eliminate the class of folks who will do anything for power.

      We must also alter the concept of great people. Great people should be those like Sibel, or Ghandi or MLK. Not some fool ridin’ in a Bentley and living in a mansion. Our current society values things more than people, to the point where people are only valued based on what they have and can do.

      And we also need to get rid of the idea that the government will keep us safe. We now have more terror than ever before, much of it manufactured by war and proxy armies and the MIC which profits from it all, and the only solution the evil POS’es can offer is more of the war that made this mess in the first place. Why do people think more war will make them safe when all it has done is further endanger them? I mean it is obvious. We have more war than ever before. And we have more terror than ever before. Is it so hard to connect the dots? We wouldn’t have the refugee crisis if it wasn’t for war. We wouldn’t have the imigrants if it wasn’t for the CIA and NSA and USURERS. And yet instead all we get are these bogus “solutions” like walls and wars.

      Why do we allow such vile people to rule over us?

    • The only way forward is to create a surveillance society. One where we lord over them just as they currently lord over us. Anyone that comes to a position of government must be relegated to a poverty level lifestyle for the remainder of their lives and forced to live in colonies where they are surveilled 24-7-365. This would eliminate the reward for criminal behavior. And it would eliminate any posibility of blackmail by dirt. And it would eliminate the class of folks who will do anything for power.

      We must also alter the concept of great people. Great people should be those like Sibel, or Ghandi or MLK. Not some fool ridin’ in a Bentley and living in a mansion. Our current society values things more than people, to the point where people are only valued based on what they have and can do.

      And we also need to get rid of the idea that the government will keep us safe. We now have more terror than ever before, much of it manufactured by war and proxy armies and the MIC which profits from it all, and the only solution the evil POS’es can offer is more of the war that made this mess in the first place. Why do people think more war will make them safe when all it has done is further endanger them? I mean it is obvious. We have more war than ever before. And we have more terror than ever before. Is it so hard to connect the dots? We wouldn’t have the refugee crisis if it wasn’t for war. We wouldn’t have the imigrants if it wasn’t for the CIA and NSA and USURERS. And yet instead all we get are these bogus “solutions” like walls and wars.

      Why do we allow such vile people to rule over us?

      This never posted for some reason.

  3. clarice jernigan says:

    This nation was founded as a Republic not a Democracy. A Democracy is 2 wolves and a lamb deciding what is for dinner – mob rule. In a Republic the minority is protected from the majority. If we could hold our fed government controllers to the principles of the Constitution, many problems could be rectified. The local governments are the place to start to root out the destructive people and policies. I don’t think the system is bad but it is abused by the evil and powerful. I think this is what is to be expected when a people and a nation turns its back on God. The framers of our constitution knew that God had intervened in their just cause and they gave credit to Him……and said that the form of government they created….a self government….. could only work for a righteous people…”Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters” – Benjamin Franklin – What we need is a revolution, a spiritual revolution on a national scale. Only God can heal our lives or our nation.

  4. Funny how god is used exactly to make states vicious many times. No, god isn’t the answer. Decency is the answer. And many believers in god are nowhere near decent. More like stuck up pricks who think themselves so great because they have material things. Common respect would be a start. God is just another tool of division most times.

    • VoiceOf Arabi says:

      Hi Dr. No,

      I disagree with you when you say “Decency is the answer…”

      The only fact we have now is, no one seems to know the answer, or else the problem would have been solved long ago……

      The reason no one has the solution yet is, first step in problem solving is “Diagnose the situation so that your focus is on the problem, not just its symptoms” I don’t think anyone got to that stage yet (or got to that stage and lived)

      It is nice to be decent, but it does not solve anything.

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