Freedom is never free.....

"It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds."-Samuel Adams

Political Frivolity (maybe)


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy Bill of Rights Day

“We the people.........” three words that changed the course of human history as none had done before.

As a group of forty two delegates sat in Philadelphia, all from different regions of the American colonies, from different cultures and ancestry, in what would become Independence Hall, they had but one purpose: to draft a document that would redefine government as the world had known it since the dawn of civilization.

The founders and framers understood through painful lessons of history that the monarchies and kingdoms and papal edicts were a study of what not to do. By the very nature of their existence, these forms of governing were inherently tyrannical and oppressive. By the whims of kings and queens and clergy, freedoms could be erased if those in power “felt like it.”

The Church of England had the power to arrest, detain, imprison, and execute those who spoke or wrote anything contrary to the mandates of the


The Spanish Inquisition is a stark and frightening example of what Papal decree wrought on the populace.

Commoners paid enormously for the right to feed their families, for the kings of the time took whatever they felt they needed or wanted.

“.....In order to form a more perfect union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility........”

The Constitution was written in direct defiance to the traditional European form of government. Self government was just a theory, as it really hadn’t been attempted on the scale in which the founders proposed. Imagine a government “by the people”, a government which “governs by the consent of the governed”. What a concept to consider. John Locke’s vision of a “social contract”,

considered empirically radical in the late part of the 17th century fanned the flames for the revolutionaries in the American colonies. Voltaire, Rosseau, and Locke were a few of the forward thinkers the founders relied on to draft the Declaration of Independence.

“Bills of rights are in their origin, stipulations between kings and their subjects, abridgments of prerogative in favor of privilege, reservations of rights not surrendered to the prince. Such was "Magna Charta", obtained by the Barons, swords in hand, from King John"– Alexander Hamilton

Hamilton, being a Federalist, relied on British Common Law which did not define or quantify natural rights. He felt the Bill of Rights was unnecessary as it would limit the freedoms of the people. Federalist held the belief that the government knew what was best for the people, and the Bill of Rights would stifle central power.

During the drafting and finalization of the U.S. Constitution, there were those involved who felt the Constitution did not protect the basic liberties of the citizenry, and therefore should not be ratified. At the convention of 1787, James Madison proposed a “Bill of Rights” to ensure the freedoms that were not enumerated in the original text of the Constitution. The anti-Federalists, on the other hand, felt that a “Bill of Rights” was an absolute necessity to guarantee the freedoms not delineated in the Constitution. As Thomas Jefferson relayed in a letter to Madison:

"Half a loaf is better than no bread. If we cannot secure all our rights, let us secure what we can."

So as politics go, an honest compromise was reached to include the Ninth Amendment:

“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

In essence, it was a win-win for the people. Both “parties” achieved the result they were looking for, and strangely enough, good and just.

Today we celebrate the 218th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights. These ten amendments essentially expanded the liberties we all enjoy today. Without these amendments, the Federal government had the flexibility to enumerate “freedoms” in such a way to be advantageous for the power of a central government. Jefferson and Madison were correct in pushing for the inclusion of these rights. Although our contemporaries may have forgotten that they exist at all, the Bill of Rights does indeed live and thrive in our daily lives.

“A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inferences– Thomas Jefferson

Conceal and Carry laws, which covers the 2nd and 10th amendments are a good example. The fact that there are countless religious sects and denominations takes care of the 1st. Illegal search and seizure is questionable at best. Due process and trial by jury are another good example of rights observed on a daily basis. Cruel and unusual punishment is always a topic of contention.

By and large, the Bill of Rights was an historic addition to an already historic document. We the people need to get busy and emphasize the importance of the 10th amendment that is to give back to the states the rights we were guaranteed, and push back on the extortion and oppressive nature of the Federal government who has methodically centralized the power that was intended to be ceded to the states.

As Libertarians, we understand that our ultimate goal is to return the government to its rightful owners. “We the people....”

As Libertarians, we understand the time is now, and the goal is just. We know this is a marathon and the journey will be long and arduous. Think about the enormity of the Bill of Rights, the effort undertaken to make it a reality, the sweat and the blood spilled to protect it, and the battle we are engaged in to maintain its relevance.

“The Bill of Rights is a born rebel. It reeks with sedition. In every clause it shakes its fist in the face of constituted authority... it is the one guaranty of human freedom to the American people.” – Frank Cobb

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