When Ronald Reagan proclaimed in his first inaugural “We are a nation that has a government—not the other way around,” he was not taking off on some libertarian tangent or making an obscure philosophical point. He was following in the footsteps of the Founding Fathers who erected a frame of government that began with the words “We the People.” He was also trying to return government to its important but limited role in people’s lives—a role that both political leaders and the people understood until 1912 but has been mostly misunderstood and abandoned since then. At Philadelphia in 1787, the Framers of the Constitution created a national government that would be effective—even energetic—in its functions but also limited to those functions. The people were to be the ultimate guardians of both the effectiveness and limitations of government. The only way such a republic—unprecedented in modern history—could work would be if the people acted as a vigilant and constitutionally-minded sovereign jealous of their rights.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
The Ultimate Authority . . . Resides in the People Alone: The People and the Constitution