What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: Kier42
Having lived under a tyrannical form of government and having studied plenty of others, the wise Founders of this nation sought to create a system of government where the rule of law prevailed. In contrasting forms of government (monarchy, oligarchy, aristocracy, etc.), the law was simply dictated by the rule of men. Thomas Paine, in his influential pamphlet Common Sense, articulated the difference in this way:
For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.
The difference between the rule of law and the rule of men is readily seen when contrasting a republican form of government with a monarchy. However, the lines are blurred and confusion arises when within a Republic there are lawmakers that seek to subvert and disregard existing law. The rule of law remains in force only to the extent that existing laws, until changed or revoked, are executed and adhered to as required.
Conveniently, those who aspire to rule while disregarding the law are able to achieve their agenda by simply passing new laws, regardless of what existing law dictates. These individuals promote a degenerated, hollow version of the rule of law, in that their law is what they consider to be in force. If a higher and previous law forbids X, but the lawmaker and his colleagues pass a new law which mandates X, then we have a problem. The proper rule of law recognizes the original and superseding law and ignores the illegitimate (and illegal!) subsequent “law” that was passed. However, the popular and bastardized rule of law ignores the previous law, and, fearful of being punished for not obeying the current law, its adherents agree that the new law mandating X must be obeyed.
The rule of law thus requires answering this fundamental question: in situations where there are two conflicting laws, which is to be obeyed? This scenario only arises where there is a superseding law that cannot be revised or rescinded by statute. In this case, the new law mandating X cannot override or strike out the provision in the previous and superseding law which forbids it, because the lawmaker is not (by law!) given that authority. Thus, the implementation and execution of the new law requires using the forceful arm of government to carry out its provision by fiat, thus compelling others under its jurisdiction to likewise disregard the previous and superseding law.
But enough of theory; we have plenty of examples from which to choose. The Constitution of the United States—the ’supreme Law of the Land’—explicitly mandates and forbids certain things. It mandates that only gold and silver be used as currency, and yet in successive law we are forced to deal with fiat paper currency. It forbids Congress from making any law regarding free speech or assembly, and yet time and time again this arena is regulated. It mandates federal enforcement of illegal immigration (invasion), and yet we’re being overrun and our resources drained by these people. The list, sadly, is a long one.
Fact is, almost every President ignores the Constitution (by mandating things that it forbids or does not allow), to say nothing of the majority of Congress doing the same. The rule of law has been substituted for a corroded counterpart that masquerades as law, but really is little more than the rule of men who happen to be lawmakers at the time.
It is unfortunate that so many people seem willing to overlook the fact that our republican form of government now serves as an empty shell in which a nefarious agenda can be foisted on an ignorant populace. Convinced that whatever legislators say is the law, and with complete disregard for the contractual obligations stipulated in the Constitution, they continue to submit to an ever-encroaching government that uses this ignorance to its advantage.
In truth, rarely in this country’s experiment on liberty has the federal government obeyed the restraint of the rule of law. Power and control, it seems, are too tempting to resist. But the fault lies with the public; so long as people remain convinced that the rule of law is alive and well, the rule of men will be allowed to continue unabated in its assumption of power and destruction of liberty.