The Breakdown of Rights in America - Basic Concepts
In this series:
Pick up a newspaper or turn on the news, and you're likely to encounter the latest scandalous result of the political rot that's set in with this country. Another political mishap, corporate botch of epic proportions, or notable political figure either going off the rails or getting chewed out for getting caught at it. Perhaps worse is the dreaded Slow News Day, when something huge and relevant is happening somewhere, but what's on your screen is a clip of a kitten playing the piano.
We're affected by the hidden costs of political breakdown every day, but few people seem to know how it happened or how to put a stop to it. I've researched the situation for over a decade, and HubPages makes a great place to promote awareness of the situation.
Or if you'd prefer, here's the kitty clip instead.
Sovereignty is a concept we very seldom hear of anymore in the U.S.. It refers to someone who is free, and the master of their own affairs. In Britain, the only sovereign is the monarch. Everyone aside from the monarch is his subject, meaning that they are subject to his will. From the lowest common-born Briton to the highest-ranking titled knight, they're all considered to be serfs to some extent or another.
When the colonies fought the War for Independence and won it, sovereignty in this country devolved back upon the people. Every man was considered to be his own king, with nobody to lord it over but himself. Imagine a society in which everyone was considered to be their own king! The U.S. truly was unique, recognizing more rights held by its citizens than any other country in the world. As your own king, you could do anything you liked whatsoever, provided that you didn't harm any other sovereign's life, liberty or property, and so long as you abided by any contract you chose to enter into. No speed limits, no gun control, no victimless crime legislation, no war on drugs, no overseas wars. Before the onset of the nanny state, citizens were considered to be competent to manage their own affairs. And the moment their choices detrimented their fellow sovereigns, they were held liable.
Rights were considered to be intrinsic, coming directly from our Creator to us. No man could stand between a man and his rights, and when someone encroached upon those rights there would be quite a reckoning for the offense. This was, and is, the American common law. And through systematic distortions, legal trickery and corrupt politics the citizenry have all but forgotten the actual laws and freedom of their own country. How did we get from a society where you could do anything you wanted that didn't harm others, to one in which politicians routinely encroach upon the rights of citizens and form public policies according to back-room deals and filthy lucre? And what can be done to correct the damage? That's what this new series will be checking into.
"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, — 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 effect their Safety and Happiness."
- The Declaration of Independence
What a phenomenal sentiment. The writers of the Declaration acknowledged that rights were an intrinsic component of people, granted to them by their Maker. They stated that governments were founded with the sole purpose of making sure those rights were kept safe. This is obviously a far cry from what the U.S. government does today when it encroaches upon the rights of its citizens at the stroke of a legislative pen.
So what happened?
The first thing necessary to shifting government from being a safeguarder of rights to an encroacher upon them was to devise a scenario in which a citizen's rights could ever be lacking or absent. If rights are given to people by their Creator, this is of course preposterous right from the start. If someone held a loaded gun to my head and pulled the trigger, they would most likely take away my life. They would naturally be guilty of murder, precisely because I had a right to life. They would have taken away my life, but not my right to it. But what had to be crafted was a scenario in which someone was actually devoid of their rights themselves. So a one-letter alteration was made in the Declaration, which changed the legal definition of one word very profoundly.
The word "unalienable" was altered to read "inalienable". Unalienable means something that can never be taken, lost, given away, haggled on, or in any other way go missing. By contrast, the word "inalienable" means something that can never be lost without the consent of the person who's got it. This seemingly miniscule alteration created the scenario by which people could be presumed to have done something to voluntarily give their rights away.
Unalienable vs. Inalienable
"Unalienable: incapable of being alienated, that is, sold and transferred." Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, page 1523
Inalienable rights: Rights which are not capable of being surrendered or transferred without the consent of the one possessing such rights. Morrison v. State, Mo. App., 252 S.W.2d 97, 101.
Republic vs. Democracy
How many times have you heard of how much the U.S. politicians do for democracy? About preserving democracy, restoring democracy, spreading democracy, and making the world safe for democracy? This would all be terrific, but for the fact that the Union is a republic. Sound odd? Think back to the Pledge of Allegiance you learned back in school for a moment. "...and to the Republic, for which it stands...". Any politician who doesn't know what form of government their own country has should either be ousted for incompetence or shot for treason. Both, for preference.
In case you're not familiar with the distinction between the two forms of government, a republic holds rights as being absolute. Inviolate. In a democracy, everything's up for grabs by the majority of voters. In a democracy, citizens can vote the rights away from a minority group. This includes who can or can't get married, who gets what tax breaks, who may continue to live on life support, who needs a government license to go about their business, or even who has the right to own property and under what circumstances. Democracy is majority rule, pure and simple.
Except that usually, it's not even that simple. Whoever can lobby and campaign the hardest had the most influence over shaping public policies, and that usually comes down to who has the most money. This is where things have gotten today, and it's a long way from a state where everyone's rights are inviolate. Most federal citizens seem to have forgotten what we'd started with, and so those who try to do something constructive usually end up struggling harder to advance their own particular special-interest group or demographic minority. This totally misses the point of absolute rights, and without that you have fractionalization of the citizenry. When everyone's struggling to pull harder in their own direction than everyone else, it becomes very easy for politicians to manipulate these special interests and do whatever they please. All because the citizens have missed the point of their common ground: absolute rights are something that everybody needs, and something that we can agree on. Without them, everything falls apart.
So it's all well and good to argue over whether or not gay people should be able to marry, or when to pull the plug on someone else's life. But each of these hotbutton issues has been designed to keep citizens divided, just as long as they can be kept from remembering that our rights are never up for grabs by other people. Whenever we act on the premise that they are, we find ourselves ushering in governmental tyranny regardless of whatever issue we're currently pulling for. And this is one way that a government keeps the majority of its citizens arguing in favor of their own slavery.
You may want to promote awareness of this fact by bookmarking this Hub. The next time you're in a forum and you find someone arguing passionately for this or that latest trendy, media-inspired argument to pare down the rights of citizens, you can paste them a link. Until we can get the citizenry to stand for our absolute rights instead of fighting to determine who gets what treats from their government, we'll just have a merry-go-round of arguments for various types of slavery while the country deteriorates.
"The general misconception is that any statute passed by legislators bearing the appearance of law constitutes the law of the land. The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land, and any statue, to be valid, must be in agreement. It is impossible for both the Constitution and a law violating it to be valid; one must prevail.
A void act cannot be legally consistent with a valid one.
An unconstitutional law cannot operate to supersede any existing valid law.
Indeed, insofar as a statute runs counter to the fundamental law of the land, it is superseded thereby."
- Sixteenth American Jurisprudence, Second Edition, Section 177
"All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution, are null and void."
- Chief Justice Marshall, Marbury v. Madison
"The State cannot diminish rights of the people." - Hurtado v. California
"Our Bill of Rights curbs all three branches of government. It subjects all departments of government to a rule of law and sets boundaries beyond which no official may go. It emphasizes that in this country man walks with dignity and without fear, that he need not grovel before an all powerful government."
- Justice William O. Douglas, U.S. Supreme Court.
Law vs. Legislation
Many citizens in the U.S. have fallen victim to the notion that whatever acts or bills the federal government puts on the books suddenly becomes law. I recently visited a site that keeps close tabs on legislation that's been coming down the pipe. The page I was on was evaluating something called the "Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention and Prosecution Act of 2010". It purports to allow the military to detain U.S. citizens indefinitely and without trial in the case of terrorism. People were up in arms over it, and posting what they evidently thought were dangerously revolutionary questions about whether one of the latest trendy political groups, the Tea Partiers, could be labelled as terrorists and imprisoned without trial indefinitely under this act. Responses went back and forth about this, until I demonstrated that it didn't have the power to allow that. In fact, it couldn't. I posted a cite from American Jurisprudence, Sixteenth Edition explaining why. Namely that the moment something is written that goes against the Constitution it's automatically null and void. The cite is on the page, linked to above.
Most citizens still don't seem to know the difference between legislation and law. We have a country where citizens decided to cede a fraction of their rights to the government to allow it to safeguard their rights. The rights went from the Creator, to the People, to the founding documents, to their government. But today, they seem to think that rights come from their government, and that their government can grant or take away rights on a whim. Never mind that it encroaches on those rights willy-nilly, because repeated treason can never make it lawful even when it becomes commonplace.
For something to become law, it must actually have the valid authority in law to stick. By contrast, legal dictionaries describe legislation and things legal as that which "has the form and appearance of law, without necessarily having the substance of law". And usually, it lacks that substance these days. Legislation and legal are terms of bureaucracy. Were the right forms submitted? Were they turned in on time? The correct parties sign them? Awesome. But that still doesn't make it law! To be valid law, it must have the valid authority in law as well. Goverment lately has been writing all kinds of things that purport to give itself authorities it was never given. How wonderful that must be! For me to get something I don't already have, I generally have to earn it. I could steal it from someone else, but then I'd be a thief. When the government purports to give itself authorities nobody gave it, government is a thief. No less than Thomas Paine said,
"All Power exercised over a nation, must have some beginning. It must be either delegated, or assumed. There are no other sources. All delegated power is trust, all assumed power is usurpation. Time does not alter the nature and quality of either."
All powers not delegated to the government are retained by the People. When the government usurps more powers or authorities, it necessarily takes them from the People. This makes the government a usurper against the People, and makes the politicians who do so guilty of a conspiracy of treason. Treason remains a capital offense, and the only thing preventing the People from trying their politicians for treason are the Peoples' own inaction. Even while they don't, however, their politicians remain outlaws, having chosen to be well outside the law. What happens when the average citizen becomes accustomed to having outlaws dictate the law, and even pay their paychecks? The average citizen becomes a party to a conspiracy of treason, and the majority of citizens subsidize an overthrow of lawful government. At that point it makes little sense to hear one complain about the very problems they subsidize, like an enabler complaining about domestic violence.
In the next Hub in this series, I'll go into the deeper meaning of the First Amendment. Not just meant to separate Church and State, it attempted to keep the politics and law of this country free from being shaped according to shifting personal opinion. Then I'll go into how the 14th Amendment strove to undo that, bringing us a new second-class citizenship and with it an effort to shape public opinion and policy... ushering in mob rule instead of the republic the country was founded as.
Read on, to The Breakdown of Rights in America - The Dumbening.