Authority to Alter Government
Our Founders truly understood the danger resulting from abusive, autocratic government which had injured the American Colonies for thirteen years in violation of the English Constitution. This is our thirteenth in a series of articles describing the Founders’ Philosophy based on W. Cleon Skousen’s book The Five Thousand Year Leap.
Our Founders saw the Colonies abused by the English Crown to a point where the American people were injured. They believed that it was the right of the sovereign people to alter or, in some cases, abolish the government. But our Founders cautioned against haste when working to lawfully change the government. Jefferson’s words in the Declaration of Independence captured the feeling of the American people when he wrote, “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”
It was the right of the people – as they are sovereign, not the leader – to alter or abolish the government, but it must be a deliberative, well thought out process. Jefferson establishes that the sovereign people have this right, but under what circumstances? Jefferson answers this question in the very next sentence of the Declaration when he wrote, “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
This political principle seemed radical and new but it had actually been debated since 1690, the year John Locke published his Second Treatise on Government. In paragraph 222 of the Second Treatise Locke wrote, “The reason why men enter into society [government] is the preservation of their property … [Therefore,] whenever the legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they [the officials of government] put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience, and are left to the common refuge which God hath provided for all men against force and violence.”
Locke goes on to say that whenever the government violates its reason for being [protection of property] or begins to rule with absolute power over the lives, liberties, and estates of the people, by this breach of trust “they [government officials] forfeit the power the people had put in their hands … and it devolves to the people, who have a right to resume their original liberty, and … provide for their own safety and security.”
It is clear our Founders believed that it was the right of the sovereign people to alter or, in some cases, abolish tyrannical government. However, they believed that this power rests with the majority, not some radical minority. The Virginia Declaration of Rights, Section 3, written in 1776 by George Mason, states it best, “That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people … And that, when any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, a majority of the community has an indubitable, inalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal.” (emphasis added)
The authority to alter or abolish government rests with the majority of the sovereign people. TCG will paraphrase the next section of the Declaration and bring it into our current administration. The short history of the present administration (2009 – 2010) is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all leading to the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. They have denied us liberty by forcing the citizens to buy “Obamacare;” they have destroyed our economy by increasing our national debt and by raising taxes; they refuse to acknowledge the sovereignty of the people resulting in a loss of liberty. Please remember this when voting in November. We can and must alter this government by voting incumbents out of office. We must take back our government.
The next principle to be discussed is our Founders’ belief in a republican form of government. Please consult The Five Thousand Year Leap.