BELIEF IS FICKLE; CONSENSUS IS A WORTHY GOAL
People believe in a lot of silly things. They believe in belief. They believe in themselves. Too many people believe everything they hear.
Some believe that dissent should be silenced in opposition to what we believe.
We don’t want to argue about the epistemology of belief and truth because those who do, and have done so for centuries, never seem to reach a consensus. Reaching a consensus is what we attempt to do here. Can we agree that we believe in Liberty and are we ready to accept the consequences of defending Liberty even for those with whom we ideologically disagree?
We accept the Constitution as a contract among our fellow citizens and ancestors. It is a contract that empirically has demonstrated its ability to guarantee us life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and numerous other rights enumerated within the Constitution and subsequently affirmed by those who take the oath to support, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
The Constitution itself guarantees that citizens may believe anything they wish. As an incorporated entity, a creation of the state, AltARP may voice opinions consistent with the rights guaranteed in the first amendment to the Constitution. By joining AltARP, our members affirm their support for the Constitution, including an idea central to Liberty: that individuals have no right to impose their beliefs on others and must abstain from aggression. Non-aggression is an ethical principle that is voluntarily accepted by people as a way to further the aims of Liberty, including civil rights and property rights. It does not preclude the use of force to protect our Liberty.
When the political Left attempts to impose its views on the rest of the nation through force (riots), they are in breach of the contract that binds us, and we have a right and duty to defend ourselves and the Constitution from them.
Where did the ideas of the Constitution come from?
Pithy aphorisms and quotes from people who shape our culture often convey meaning more efficiently than long treatises written by experts. While there are many witticisms attributed to the Founders, some are fake. The ones that follow are real and can be traced to the original documents as cited. We will add to them from time to time and attempt to portray them within the correct context. The Founders were by no means infallible and individually they may have espoused ideas that did not survive their deliberations as they formed the Nation. Collectively they made us who we are.
Richard B. Morris , described by the New York Times as a “pre-eminent Colonial and American constitutional historian and a former chairman of the history department at Columbia University” identified the following seven figures as the key Founding Fathers: George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. We feel compelled to add Abraham Lincoln to the list for saving the Union.
Sir Isaac Newton in 1676 expressed the idea that progress occurs incrementally through the efforts of many when he said, “”If I have seen further, it is by standing on ye shoulders of giants.”
Newton, Isaac. “Letter from Sir Isaac Newton to Robert Hooke”. Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
The Founders of our Republic were men of similar stature standing on the shoulders of wise men since the beginning of recorded history. As they designed our Constitution, they freely acknowledged their indebtedness to earlier philosophers and statesmen.
They designed a system of governance which has withstood silly interventions by people who have disappeared from history. Every generation seems to think that it enjoys superior wisdom. Modernity carries with it no special authority. Despite evolving scientific knowledge about the world around us, the basic nature of human beings remains unchanged. There is a natural tendency for some people to try to rule over others, to amass power unto themselves, and to try to subvert government to achieve their ends. Citizens have a duty to be informed and not allow themselves to be tricked into sacrificing their liberty for fleeting security. Citizens have a duty to teach the basic principles of liberty to succeeding generations.
“Without a predilection for my own judgment, I have weighed with attention every argument, which has at any time been brought into view. But the constitution is the guide, which I never will abandon.”
George Washington to The Boston Selectmen, July 28, 1795 (underline ours for emphasis)
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
From John Adams to Massachusetts Militia, 11 October 1798
“Be it remembered, however, that liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker!
But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us at the expence of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood.
And liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain, has given them understandings, and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean, of the characters and conduct of their rulers.”
John Adams, Essay on Canon and Feudal Law (1765)
“I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground that all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states or to the people. To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, not longer susceptible of any definition.”
Thomas Jefferson, Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National Bank, 1791
“Utterly, indeed, should I despair did not the presence of many whom I here see remind me that in the other high authorities provided by our Constitution I shall find resources of wisdom, of virtue, and of zeal on which to rely under all difficulties.“
Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, 1801 (underline ours for emphasis)
“Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’, because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.” and “No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him.”
Thomas Jefferson to Francis Gilmer, 1816
“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”
James Madison, Federalist 45, 1788
“Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government which impartially secures to every man whatever is his own.”
James Madison, Essay on Property, 1792
“We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”
Abraham Lincoln, Speech at Cincinnati, Ohio, September 17, 1859
“Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties. And not to Democrats alone do I make this appeal, but to all who love these great and true principles.”
Abraham Lincoln, Speech at Kalamazoo, Michigan, August 27, 1856,
“That the said Constitution shall never be construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms …”
Samuel Adams, Debates and Proceedings in the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, at 86-87 (Pierce & Hale, eds., Boston, 1850)
“People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.”
“By a constitutional policy, working after the pattern of nature, we receive, we hold, we transmit our government and our privileges, in the same manner in which we enjoy and transmit our property and our lives.”
Edmund Burke (1729-1797) Reflections on the French Revolution, paragraph 56
Other Smart People who were not among the Founders
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”
George Santayana, (6 Dec 1863 – 26 Sep 1952) Reason in Common Sense, p. 284
“The state of nature is governed by a law that creates obligations for everyone.
And reason, which is that law, teaches anyone who takes the trouble to consult it, that because we are all equal and independent, no-one ought to harm anyone else in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.”
John Locke, Second Treatise on Government, Chapter 2, 1689