The conclusion to the five part series on the founding principles of America in honor of Independence Day 2015. “…a liberty to follow my own will in all things, where the rule prescribes not; and not to be subject to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, arbitrary will of another man; as freedom of nature is to be under no other restraint but the law of nature.” John Locke
Imagine a society where the law changed daily. A place where the person who wore the Mayor’s hat or the Governor’s sash or the King’s crown decided that on one day you were “lawful” and the next day you were to be thrown in prison. That is a land under the “Rule of Man” and was precisely what our founders fought to overthrow when they declared independence from King George III in 1776. Imagine a land where the well-connected steal, rape and murder with impunity. A place where a baron, lord, corporate head or the son of a politicians could violate the law openly, while another person was judged to have broken the exact same law and be thrown in prison. That land, with unequal justice, was also overthrown by our founders in 1776. That is why America was founded as a land of Rule of Law, and Equal Justice – two key founding principles that protect the freedom of individual Americans and promote a prosperous and peaceful society. Yet, as with our other founding principles, Americans no longer live under the rule of law, nor can they expect equal justice. This is the result of decades of erosion of America by progressives and an apathy among Americans who seem to value entitlements and hedonism far more than freedom itself.
Join the “Founders on your Corner” float in the Independence Day parade in Pinellas Park/Kenneth City. Meet on 62nd St. N between 46th Ave and 54th Ave from 10-10:45 on Saturday July 4th, 2015.
Rule of Law Rule of Law prevails in societies where laws are written by elected representatives, based on a firm constitutional limits, enforced by an Executive and subject to an unbiased review and support or deletion by the courts. People can predict the consequences of their actions. They can determine the limits within which they may operate a business. Families can plan for their futures knowing the law will determine their fortunes, not the arbitrary whim of another man that may come along a few years in the future. A Rule of Law makes sane and predictable life possible. It prevents a politicians who holds power from arbitrarily deciding that a person’s fortune may be arbitrarily taken for some other purpose than the law allowed a few years prior. When the law exists and prevails in society, it doesn’t matter who holds power, they are far less relevant than the law itself. Rule of law also applies to the observance of just laws by citizens. If your neighbor could just decide to build a fence five feet into your yard, that would not be lawful and would violate rule of law. If a mob decided that they had suddenly developed the right to burn down a few blocks worth of houses and businesses, then the society has descended into pure lawlessness. Certainly though, laws can be unjust, and peaceful civil disobedience is appropriate to call attention to the injustice of certain laws – like racial segregation in the south. A “tyranny of the majority” can exist that creates vast injustice and at those times, there is also a violation of natural rights of man such as their life, liberty, and their property rights.
America Now Under the Rule of Man The rule of law is breaking down in America. Congress often doesn’t even make laws anymore, but merely delegates their parliamentary authority to the executive branch for “rule making”. Then thousands of unaccountable, unelected career bureaucrats effectively write the law. That is the case with Obamacare and many environmental regulations. The Supreme Court is no longer upholding law that is actually passed by Congress, instead determining what they think the law “should be” based on their political preferences and favoritism. The President of the United States, Barack Obama no longer respects the rule of law, deciding, for instance, to allow illegal immigrants to have de facto amnesty. Wars are a particularly dangerous times for citizen’s and their natural right to “rule of law”. In war time, the natural rights of citizens are easily ended and subjected to tyranny in the name of “national security”. Citizens themselves no longer respect the law,turning into looting rioting mobs as a form of phony protest and a means of political intimidation. Activists no longer respect the rights of others, turning the court system into their personal mafia bosses to get their way through the force that their preferred judges can apply to a fellow citizens. Here are some examples of a conversion to rule of man.
- Obamacare law is re-written by the court to turn a “penalty” into a “tax” and “state” into anything the court needs it to mean to keep a failing health policy approach on life support.
- The Department of Health and Human Services uses panels of bureaucrats and elitist ivory tower “doctors” to create rationing rules that will ration care for those who aren’t viewed as valuable or too costly to society.
- The Supreme Court decides that citizens of dozens of states can’t define who their state-based governments will define marriage under the law. Instead, a slim majority looks for some notion of “dignity” in the constitution and re-defines marriage to suit their tastes under vast political pressure.
- In the ’30’s President Roosevelt arbitrarily ordered everyone to turn their gold over to the government, paying a very low rate for it and forbidding private ownership!
- The President of the United States aims cruise missiles at Libya without declaring war or following the law under the War Powers Act passed as law by Congress.
- The President of the United States pays to ship illegal immigrant children to America to create a crisis then grants them de facto legal status.
- The City of St. Petersburg determines that a gay pride parade will be given $70,000 of free police and sanitation services while other political groups must pay the city for the services.
- The City of St. Petersburg decides that an electronic message center that has a message changing every ten seconds is aesthetically “unpleasing” but that 80,000 90 gallon recycling bins on the street are acceptable as well as sign spinners outside a pizza shop.
- Mobs rampage through Ferguson and Baltimore in response to a completely false story of “hands up don’t shoot” and when allowed “room to destroy” by the Mayor (respectively).
- Citizens are subject to arrest and detention without due process of law as enemy combatants under the “Patriot Act” and the “National Defense Authorization Act”.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously stated: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” This refers to an equal justice. Rather than having a rule that says white people can sit on the front of the bus, or at the lunch counter or go to a better school, Equal Justice states all have the same rights. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, black or white, politically connected or a protestor, you will be treated the same under the law. No judge will determine that since your fathers fought in the Civil war (for instance), you will serve twice the jail time as those who fought for the Union. If you have a piece of land, you will receive the best price if the government decides to build a highway through it no matter who you are – not just because you gave money to the Mayor’s election campaign. If you decide that you would rather not cater a wedding of a gay couple, you will receive the same respect as gay pride parade that doesn’t want to allow Christians to march with a “Repent” sign in the parade.
Unequal Justice in Modern America
Today, “justice” is often viewed as being more necessary for those in certain protected classes. The politically well-connected get special financial deals and rules against their competitors. Those with alternative sexual orientations are given special leeway by the media and courts. People who riot are given “room to destroy” if their cause is somehow seen as “more just” by the activists in power. Here are some examples of unequal justice visible today.
- A Wall Street bank that made bad investment decisions gets billion in bailout from the U.S. government.
- The Federal Reserve prints money to prop up the well-connected for bailouts, causing a devaluation of the dollar for average citizens who then face inflation.
- A firefighter who preaches in favor of traditional marriage in his own church is fired from his job – even if he never stated anything like that on the job.
- A bakery in Oregon is fined $135,000 for not wanting to cater a gay wedding.
- A doctor who works for government hospital (like a University hospital) is shielded from malpractice liability with “Sovereign immunity” laws while a private practice doctor is fully exposed.
- A Large billboard manufacturer can place electronic billboard on major interstate highways in St. Petersburg that change messages every ten seconds, but a mom-and-pop business can’t do the same on a quiet business district street.
- Those people caught using crack cocaine get sentences twice as long in jail as those using powdered cocaine.
- Government unions force the taxpayers support fiscally unsustainable and extravagant pension and retirement health benefits, while the citizens themselves not only pay for them, but can’t afford them either.
Re-establishing Rule of Law and Equal Justice
Restoring America and the freedom of her citizens will be difficult and will take many years if not decades. After all, it took decades of slow progressivism to get us into the sorry state our nation is in now. Means of ensuring Rule of Law and Equal Justice are many and have varying levels of difficulty. Unfortunately, the simplest is also the least likely. That would involve citizens merely demanding that the government ensure equal application of laws and that politicians can’t change the rules on a whim. That can be done with elections if Americans can get over the entitlements they enjoy and take time away from their lives to dedicate to some civic engagement. Lawsuits are a more expensive way to try to address the unequal justice and rule of man predominate in America today, but sadly the courts are now a bigger part of the problem (but overwhelming them will help). There will come a time for civil disobedience. A time when people simply stop sending their tax money to the government, or refuse to comply with ridiculous zoning and other regulations at the local level. Such actions will take tens of thousands of courageous people willing to clog up the court system. Addressing the mob mentality of looting, burning and destroying will require removing politicians who refuse to enforce the basic laws of society. It will also mean working to reform society at the moral level through family, community and church actions. The final and most difficult way to restore Rule of Law and Equal Justice is the way of our Founders – revolution. This author prays that Americans will wake up and take the difficult steps that are needed now, to avoid that scenario of a complete breakdown of society that faced our founders. As the Rule of Law ends and people seek a “strong man” for order, what history has most often produced is a tyrant. We are not far from tyranny in America. Only the Founders of America, operating on our founding principles and dedicated to freedom came up with the miracle of America that lasted so long.
Conclusion to the “Founding Principles” Series
America, fellow citizens, brothers and sisters – the future of our country is in your hands! It is time to stand up for the founding principles of our country: Natural Rights, Individual Liberty, Limited Government, Consent of the Governed, Property Rights, Free Markets, Rule of Law and Equal Justice. We are at a crossroads. The governing authorities in our country – both Democrats and Republicans – have made it clear that they seek a centrally planned economy where freedom must be wiped away to serve whatever agenda the political class deem “best”. The legislative bodies no longer legislate, the Executive Branch ignores the law and the Supreme Court seeks to make their own laws. The original, principled American system is unraveling before our eyes and this may be the last chance we have to catch the threads and weave them back together before we have to re-make the threads themselves and weave Freedom anew.
David McKalip, M.D.