I don’t know if fed up Americans will rise up in the near future and defend their liberties against an ever more abusive and oppressive system of government, but I do know that 2020 has revealed vividly the post-constitutional wilderness the nation has entered.
Not since the days of slavery or internment have federal and local governments attacked the natural rights and freedoms of individual Americans so concertedly as they have this past year. Arbitrary house arrests; the denial of religious freedoms; the closing of private businesses without any equitable measures of compensation; the intentional disregard for the destruction of private property while anarchists are given general grants of immunity; and the absolute refusal by governors, secretaries of state, attorneys general, and judges to provide for and ensure free and fair elections have combined to produce a lawless year in the United States.
If you believe, as all Americans should, that failure to abide by the strictures of the Constitution renders the institutions of government illegitimate, then I would argue that 2020 has crystallized an uncomfortable reality: we are now under occupation by a hostile governing force. That may seem ludicrous to some, but I see no distinction between a group of Americans seizing power and governing with complete disregard for the Constitution and an invading force of Chinese communists accomplishing the same objective. Our governing document clearly proscribes what government actors may do, and when the government as a whole discard those constraints as mere suggestions, then it delegitimizes itself.
Show me where in the Constitution agents of local or state governments are empowered to arbitrarily and capriciously suspend Americans’ attempts to make a living, exercise their religious faiths, and peaceably assemble in protest of their governments’ abridgments of their freedoms. Show me where in the Constitution expansive exceptions to Americans’ free speech are carved out that authorize tech companies with monopoly power over the digital town square to censor free debate over the scientific efficacy of Pandemic lockdowns or the overwhelming evidence of voting irregularities in the presidential election or even the mere promotion of conservative points of view.
Show me where in the Constitution Dr. Fauci is entitled to declare what freedoms Americans may still possess, where Andrew Weissman is elevated to Lord High Inquisitor in charge of persecuting political allies of the elected president, or where Michigan attorney general Dana Nessel is charged with hunting down lawyers who challenge election fraud. Where does the Constitution give the state of California veto power over the enforcement of federal immigration laws, while giving Arizona no means of protecting the sovereignty of its own borders? Where does the Constitution declare that Black Lives Matter and Antifa are exempt from criminal laws and pandemic lockdowns but that Americans with ideas at odds with Hollywood or academe should be targeted and harassed?
How is it possible for elected representatives to enter office by taking oaths to support and defend the Constitution of the United States while they simultaneously declare their intentions to deprive Americans of their Second Amendment right to possess firearms, their First Amendment rights to worship and speak as they choose, and their Fourteenth Amendment right to receive equal protection under the law? And where does the Constitution insist that the results of a patently fraudulent election must be respected simply because no court in the land will consent to hear the merits of disputes too numerous to ignore?
If we are to believe 2020’s rendering of the Constitution of the United States of America, it is the weakest guarantor of individual freedom one could imagine. It becomes inoperative during times of public illness, is highly dependent on the viewpoints of individual Americans, and goes completely silent when the American people elect a president whom the residents of D.C. cannot abide.
If the Constitution’s powers are truly so feeble and supine, then there is no question that we are governed solely by the whims of men and women unconstrained by the rule of law. If the Constitution’s protections for each American’s individual rights can be suspended every time a government bureaucrat declares an emergency, then we have no protections at all. We have simply entered the “Age of Emergencies.”
It was once common knowledge in this country that all forms of government, no matter how well-intended, are inherently corrupt. This was considered an elementary-school history lesson. The Founding Fathers were unanimous in this sentiment. The Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, and any of the private correspondence between the signers and ratifiers of those important documents all proceed from a fundamental truism: government cannot be trusted. It is, at best, a necessary nuisance in order to constrain the worst impulses of men and, at worst, the greatest threat to an individual’s natural liberties.
That this important historical lesson has been all but deleted from modern curricula that now extol the merits of bigger and bigger government capable of manipulating each human detail, from the biological sex listed on a birth certificate to the global management of hydrocarbon energy, is a tragedy that will continue to produce harm until the lesson is painfully learned again.
But the lesson will most definitely be learned, if not through meditative reflection, then through hard experience. A man will ignore his government’s trespasses, just as he will ignore minor aches and pains. But when hardship becomes too great, when the body begins to fail, he will flail about and do everything left in his weakened state to keep free and breathing.
The question for Americans as they enter the new year is whether the hardships, they’ve endured in 2020 are still manageable or whether those hardships have metastasized into something requiring them to act. We shall see.
And so, it goes.
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