US v The People of the United States
By Mr. Twisted.
Sounds like a Supreme Court case, doesn’t it?
Well, though US v People of the United States could very well end up in a battle at our courts’ highest level, the simple fact is that this case was already decided over 200 years ago.
Back in the later parts of the 18th century, a significant number of Americans (and even some Europeans, as well) developed a line of thinking that held to an ideology of basic, inherent rights of individuals. These rights were not granted by any earthly authority, nor were they voted on by majorities—they pre-existed.
This notion would of course bear itself out in a violent manner in what we have come to know as the American Revolution. The event that cost the lives of over 25,000 Americans was the culmination of the conflict between the rule of men by men and the idea that men could—and should—govern themselves. The idea of self-government was a philosophy built on the concept that certain aspects of life were not privileges or gifts based on some type of merit system, but rather that they were already part of man from birth.
Interestingly enough, though these men who worked diligently on this ideology (and were prepared to sacrifice everything for it) were by no means divine or perfect, it is in fact their flaws and misgivings that would bear out some of the most fascinating aspects of this great experiment known as America. They didn’t, for example, get it all exactly right to begin with. Yet they had the foreknowledge to understand that disagreements would arise and that a system of government that could accommodate those conflicts was needed.
However, through all of the arguments that would form the American government (and there were many—some of which still exist today), an underlying theme endured amidst the turmoil. Namely, that the American government was not one that existed to grant people certain rights or privileges, but rather the opposite—that it was to exist for the purpose of ensuring the people didn’t have those rights taken away from them. This methodology differed greatly from that of a monarchy in that it wasn’t a king (or his agents) granting his subjects privileges to act within his kingdom—it was the people who allowed the king (or his agents) to sit in a position that existed solely for the reasons of protecting their rights.
Some would argue that the king or his court would then not be needed because, if it only existed to prevent rights from being taken, wouldn’t the people be better off without him? It was here that those in America’s foundation knew that human nature is, unfortunately, flawed. We tend to take each other’s things—tools, cars, wives, etc.—and, without some kind of objective arbiter, the physically strongest of any given group would inevitably end up with all the cool stuff.
That objective arbiter would, naturally, need to remain objective. How to accomplish that, given the aforementioned flawed human nature? By crafting a document that outlines what the arbiter can and cannot do that cannot be changed by said arbiter. The document would be the basis for all of the decisions made for conflict between ideologies of the people.
But—and this is a big but and of the utmost importance—the entire underlying intent for this document was not for the purpose of outlining what people could and could not do, but rather what the government could and could not do.
This document is known of course as the United States Constitution; the writers of which painstakingly crafted it to reflect the idea that it was government—not man—who needed limitations. This is, though a seemingly basic concept for many reading this, a notion that is altogether lost on a great many people who not only should know better, but have sworn oaths stating that they do.
There are a great many political arguments in this country that seem to be only making the chasm between groups wider and harder to overcome. Many of these discussions have individuals on both sides who are highly educated and very knowledgeable on the subject they are arguing for or against. Yet at the core of each fight—of nearly every single clash of political ideologies—lays a misunderstanding of what “rights” are and what the Constitution represents. There is a growing abundance of individuals who firmly believe that it is the government in control and deciding what we can and cannot do rather than the other way around.
These words represent more than a catchy campaign slogan or political rhetoric. They embody the difference between a rule of people who change their minds with the direction of the wind and the concept of rights being born with men—not granted to them.
Everyone who holds a political office or joins the military swears an oath to something. It’s not to a king, a president, or any elected official—it’s to the Constitution of the United States of America. Consider that oath wisely and what it represents the next time you view a politician or, in case you are in one of those positions, your own job description. Who—or what—people define as the arbiter of rights defines a great deal of the fights we now face in our country that may get worse before they get better.