The American Way of Life (Part 17 of 28)

Part 17: of a 28-part series

The equal rights command, and the happiness of every individual, are not acknowledged to be the only legitimate object of government. Modern times have discovered the only device by which these rights can be secured –the device that modern man has discovered (this is modern in 1823). The most modern political invention is the Constitution of the United States. It’s a political innovation.

History climaxes at this institution called America’s form of self-government – this Constitution. It is the positive answer to despotism. It was designed to check despotism. It was designed to prevent it if at all possible. It is to put government on the people themselves — not on the king, not on an assembly, not on a congress. Congress is not to do anything beyond the will of the elector. Every man of right here is a representative chosen by themselves. This is a phenomenon.

“If men were angels,” says James Madison, “no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls of government would be necessary. In a government which is to be administered by men over men, you have to first enable the government to control the governed, and oblige it to control itself.”

What we see here is that in the Constitution, we have written in how the rulers can control themselves, or how to check themselves – the checks and balances we have in the Constitution. Unlimited power is apt to corrupt. And who has oversight of the rulers? We’ve been hearing a lot about oversight lately. We’re supposed to have oversight, and we’re supposed to oversee our representatives. We haven’t been doing our job. We’ve not been overseeing people we have put there to represent us, and they have run amuk. And that’s where our oversight has to be – not on them overseeing us, but on we overseeing them. But we’ve lost the know-how, somehow.

To be continued…