The most significant correction that came with the American Revolution was that citizens themselves were recognized as sovereigns under God over government. In the United States, people looked to creation’s God for higher authority. The First Amendment rejection of power, claimed by government authoritarians, kings, academians, clergy, etc., unleashed competition for religion, education and speech among the people that enabled America to become the greatest nation in world history.
William Ellery Channing wrote, “Erase all thought and fear of God from a community, and selfishness and sensuality would absorb the whole man. Appetite knowing no restraint, and poverty and suffering having no solace or hope, man would trample in scorn on the restraints of human laws. Virtue, duty, principle would be moved and scorned as unmeaning sounds. A sordid self-interest would supplant every feeling, and man would become… a companion of brutes.”*
“Government by written and permanent law” is not complicated. No matter what one’s religion, birthright or political view, the principles of the Declaration and universal absolutes shown here clearly distinguish right from wrong. Stealing property that belongs to another is violating an unalienable right upon which liberty depends. Adultery is a violation of the sacred obligations of marriage and family, creating stress and shortening life. Dishonesty cheats the victim out of an unalienable, God-given right and undermines the reliable communication upon which commerce and community depend. Deliberately stopping the heart of an unborn child is an horrific offense to the God of life as well as to society.
How then can the people protect themselves from cavalier authoritarians who manipulate changes in laws that enable radicals to dumb down students and, by extension, over time, manipulate society?
Historians Will and Ariel Durant pointed out Solon of Athens’ recognition of the critical procedural choice that is directly related to limiting the options for political deception. Do we insist upon “government by written and permanent law,” or do we permit “government by incalculable and changeable decrees?”**
Impressions of Solon of Athens and other lawmakers from different cultures, with the focus on Moses and the Ten Commandments, are displayed on the Supreme Court building in Washington, DC. Although Solon did not support his understanding with references to the Old Testament for reliable standards, he did recognize the ongoing dangers of deception by authoritarians who manage to dominate soft sciences.
“Government by written and permanent law” provides long-term stability. Mankind is protected from short-lived popular fantasies and preserved from the inroads of political deception. Secular elitists who insist that the American charter for the use of government power is a “living constitution” now artfully advance “government by incalculable and changeable decrees.” To retain respect for the family and liberty, the Constitution must be anchored to the political truth adopted by the Founding Fathers.
*William Ellery Channing, 1820, The Great Doctrine of Retribution: The Founders’ Views of the Social Utility of Religion, cited by James H. Hutson in a presentation to the John Courtney Murray Seminar at the American Enterprise Institute, 1150 Seventeenth Street, NW, Washington, DC, June 6, 2000.
**Will and Ariel Durant, The Story of Civilization, the Solon of Athens “government by incalculable and changeable decrees” Vol. II, The Life of Greece, 1939, 118.
~ David Norris