- He should be smart.
- He should have experience.
- He should look presidential by looking good and being self-assured.
- He should make me feel comfortable and that I can trust him.
- He should care about the people.
- He should not be really smart, because then he would not be like me, but the mainstream media should say he is smart.
- He should have been busy creating coercive laws, but know nothing about business and running other voluntary organizations.
- He should be a megalomaniac who is sure that he knows what is best for the rest of us and he should look like someone a good-looking woman might choose for sex.
- He should have a silvery tongue and be able to convince me to follow him off a cliff.
- He gives never-ending speeches claiming that he cares about people, but he gives money to special interests to get their vote and deprives everyone of their liberty.
The Declaration of Independence placed sovereignty for the first time squarely in the hands of the individual. The individual has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And, yes, to his property, which word was left out because it was clearly already covered by the given trilogy of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Declaration declared that just, legitimate government became so only if it served the people by protecting their individual sovereignty by ensuring their inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Government and its leaders could and should be overthrown if they did not act in recognition of the inalienable rights of the individual, which all of the people enjoyed and which none of the people had to apply to government for. Their rights were inalienable and could not legitimately be denied by government.
The Constitution attempted to bring about the mechanisms of government which would help to direct government to fulfill its goal of protecting the individual's rights and thereby serving the sovereign people well. The Preamble sets this understanding up. It states that the Constitution is to "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." The Constitution then embarks on enumerating a very carefully chosen list of powers held by the President, the Congress, and the Federal Courts. It is very obvious that these powers are very limited. Let us examine some of the powers that Congress was given:
- To borrow money on the credit of the United States
- To regulate commerce between the states, foreign nations, and the Indian tribes, where regulate meant to keep the states from interfering with free trade, as they had been doing.
- To establish naturalization and bankruptcy rules.
- To coin money and establish weights and measures.
- To establish penalties for counterfeiting.
- To establish post offices and post roads.
- To provide for copyrights and patents.
- To set up federal courts inferior to the Supreme Court.
- To define and punish piracies and felonies on the high seas.
- To declare war and make rules for captures.
- To raise and support Armies.
- To provide and maintain a Navy.
- To provide for calling forth the Militia.
- To tax for the purpose of performing the above powers. There was no implication that taxes could be levied and used for other purposes, though some soon claimed they could be and were opposed by such men as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Madison.
Many people opposed the idea of establishing a Bill of Rights, since they said that the powers of the Federal government were so limited that they could not be used to violate the rights of the individual. There was no need to declare a right to freedom of speech, since it was clear that the government was given no power to limit freedom of speech. In fact, when the decision was finally made to put together the Bill of Rights, one of the original amendments, Amendment IX, states "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." This makes it very clear just how jealously the people claimed their inalienable individual rights!
Today, we should do no less. Today, we are much more threatened by illegitimate and overblown government than the colonies were by the government of King George III and a Parliament in which they had no representation. The actual encroachments upon the rights of the individual in the colonies were small compared to those we now experience in America. The level of taxation was microscopic compared to the present. The redistribution of wealth and the requirements for service were small in comparison. There are now many more limitations upon our right to lead productive and self-directed lives. We are allowed the freedom to make a much smaller fraction of our life choices now. The mere fact that a plurality of voters may choose to violate the Constitution and the rights of the individual does not lessen the horrible fact that the rights of the individual and his sovereignty are under brutal attack. This government, backed by this plurality of voters, is illegitimate.
Just as the most singly critical principle for choosing a President is whether he will preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, so is that also the most important criterion for choosing any member of Congress. We do an awful job of choosing those people as well as choosing Presidents. The people we have chosen have proven very adept at violating our individual, inalienable rights. This is no surprise, given that few of us recognize the most important principle for choosing our President and our representatives in the House and Senate. Most people have richly earned the loss of their liberty, but they must be damned for also losing that of the few who deserved their liberty and for losing that liberty for our Posterity!