by Chuck McGlawn 9/18/10
There is a phrase that has drifted into common use, no, it has exploded, into common use. It is a phrase that forty years ago its application would have been welcomed, and would have been celebrated by Conservatives, Right-Wingers and Libertarians alike. But, forty years ago Conservatives, Right-Wingers and Libertarians were almost just one group. That was forty years ago. Before we get into that phrase, let us take a brief look at that same “Conservative, right-wing and libertarian” landscape.
Today the conservative movement has grown so large that they now include some special interest Conservatives. The conservatives have divided themselves into three very distinct but very much overlapping factions. There are the, I guess we will have to call them the Old-Conservatives. They adhere to the basic conservative beliefs. They oppose high taxes, foreign aid, corporate and social welfare, farm subsidies and government regulations. They are strict constructionist when it comes to the Constitution. These Conservatives call themselves “Small Government Conservatives”.
The small government conservatives typified by the motto of The John Birch Society. One of the earliest and defining conservative organizations. Robert Welch, the founder and President of The John Birch Society said in the Blue Book, “The motto can be summed up in just five words less government and more responsibility”.
The small government conservatives could merge quite easily with libertarians and right-wingers. [The regular readers of this Liberty ViewsLetter know that the historic definition of right-winger is an advocate of less government.] This means small government conservatives, libertarians and right-wingers are still largely just one group. The other two conservatives groups still adhere too many of those small government planks, with a few planks added.
Let us call the second group of conservatives the, “Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid.” conservatives. The additional planks they add to the conservative platform are “Be ready for war with Iran” plank, They functions as if the Iranians are on the verge of having nuclear weapon capability, with a burgeoning ballistic missal delivery system so that they will soon be able to lob the big one onto New York or Washington DC. This is, of coarse a slight exaggeration.
A close corollary to that plank is the “close the borders”, because “every job done by an illegal is a job stolen from an American.” AND, “with open borders the Iranians do not have to wait for a missal delivery system to be developed, they can just carry suitcase nukes across the ‘open border’, and BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, goodbye to San Diego, Phoenix and Dallas.” The libertarians, and right-wing (those who are advocates of less government) would not mesh too well with these brands of conservatives.
The third wing of the conservative movement is, (and remember there is much overlapping.) the “Religious Conservatives”. Therefore, some of each of the other groups adheres to some of the planks that are added by the religious conservatives. The religious conservatives add to the platform these planks: “no abortion”, “no stem cell research” and “marriage is to be defined as being between one man and one woman”.
Now The Phrase
The phrase to which I refer is “The Rule of Law” Now I am very familiar with the term. I and many conservatives have been using it for decades to describe man’s natural or God given rights. The concept of the “Rule of law” plays heavily in any understanding and any explanation of the meaning of the Declaration of Independence. The line from the Declaration that says, “…endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights… to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” And that life liberty and the pursuit of happiness were man’s natural rights. The basics of the Rule of Law.
I am not alone in this appraisal.
“These unwritten principles of equality, autonomy, dignity, and respect are said to transcend ordinary written laws that are enacted by government. Sometimes known as natural law or higher law theory.”
“Natural Law, the unwritten body of universal moral principles that underlie the ethical and legal norms by which human conduct is sometimes evaluated and governed. Natural law is often contrasted with positive law or statutes, which consists of the written rules and regulations enacted by government.” (see) http://lawbrain.com/wiki/Natural_Law)
The Rule of Law
“…maxim states that men should not be trusted to rule others unless their rule is tempered by fixed laws that prevent tyranny. Laws that prevent individuals from accumulating wealth by force, laws that prevent those in high office from exercising power over the populace without restraint, laws that prevent the majority from acting without a due regard for the rights and well-being of individuals, laws that prevent the powerful from plundering the weak. The Rule of Law is what our heroes died for in past wars for liberty.” “…not the cruel edicts of tyrant dictators or divine right decrees of kings -- is the bedrock of human justice, the philosophical cornerstone of these United States, and the foundation of hope for all mankind.” (Emphasis added)
You may have heard it said of America,
"Ours is a nation of laws. We are ruled by laws, not men.’ What does this mean? Before America was born, men and women were ruled by kings who claimed the right to rule, who changed the law to suit their every whim. This was considered intolerable by our founding fathers; That, no written law may be enforced by the government unless it conforms with certain unwritten, universal principles of fairness, morality, and justice that transcend human legal systems.”
That is what was meant by the Rule of Law.(see) http://lawbrain.com/wiki/Rule_of_Law
Recently, we have seen the phrase “Rule of Law”, used to describe and justify the most egregious acts of majorities against minorities. To demonize and vilify men and women that come to this country to make for themselves a better life in pursuit of happiness. Men and women who just want the opportunity for nothing more than to make our beds and mow our lawns.
In the America, that I know and love the “Rule of Law” once described a revolutionary change in man’s relationship with his government. It represented a giant step forward in the evolution of mankind that was the point of demarcation from the brutal “might makes right”, and the dictatorial “Devine right of Kings”, into a whole new paradigm that man was capable of self government. And the Might makes Right and the divine right of Kings were consigned to the “Trash Heap” of history. That man had RIGHTS, inalienable rights that came to him by just being born. And, that man himself could create governments and limit that government to just protecting man’s inalienable rights.
I am saddened to say, that many conservatives are duped. They have abandoned their traditional moral values that respect life, liberty and property. They have abandoned the principles of the Rule of Law and God-given rights as recognized by the Declaration of Independence, and have turned their backs to the Rule of Law and instead embraced the interventionism of socialist central planning and the expanded intrusive State. And they have ignominiously chosen the phrase “Rule of Law” as the banner under which they march. To those conservatives, I invite a visit to and a more thoughtful reading of the Declaration of Independence.
To these misguided conservatives I offer this gently remind that George Orwell’s “Doublethink” means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. This means you will not be able to limit our government to the adherence to The Rule of Law as understood by our Founding Fathers, while advocating the most blatant laws that enable the majority to act without a due regard for the rights and well-being of individuals.
With the conversion of our once proud Republic into an unbridled Democracy, you can deny individuals there God Given “unalienable rights” by simple statutes, but please do not call it “The Rule of Law”.