on Separation

“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” James Madison (1751-1836), 4th President of the United States, quoted from Federalist #51, of The Federalist Papers, published February 6th, 1788

This past week the President decided to put on his Professorial robes and rewrite history (as many Professors seem inclined to do). He decided to give a lecture to the Supreme Court on what their job is, which in this case, is to uphold Obamacare. He stated that they should not break long standing precedent, that they should respect a law that was passed with large majorities in the Congress and to not engage in judicial activism. The problem with his statements is that not only history, but his own DoJ, would later reveal how hypocritically untrue they really were.

Unfortunately, he would not be the first President to cherry-pick behavior in order to further an agenda, and it is doubtful that he will be the last. Unfortunately, he, like several Presidents that have gone before, has forgotten the one true principle of our Republic: that our government rests on the sovereignty of the people, who temporarily delegate their powers to three co-equal branches of the government as outlined in a document that is our highest law, the Constitution. Under it, each branch acts as a check on the other, in order to ensure that none overstep their Constitutional boundaries and usurp unlimited power. Our founders intended that the wheels of government turn slowly and deliberately, so as to frustrate the natural ambition and passions of man.

As citizens we delegate our authority to representatives charged with the main business of government: namely, to protect our nation, to speak for our nation to the world, and to regulate commerce in such a way as to protect the liberty of all. Our founders wisely understood that these elected officials would still be human, and subjected to the same temptations and imperfections that we all struggle with from time to time: lust for money, lust for power, selfishness, and pride. As James Madison said above, we are not angels, and must therefore recognize that human nature has through the ages shown itself to have a natural tendency to seek control over others. Our constitution was designed in recognition of that, which is why our branches of government were designed to be separate, where the natural self-interest and ambitions of the men would be a check on each other. The Constitution was written with an understanding of human nature, and was constructed to work with, as opposed to against, it in order to achieve good government.

A good example of what can happen under a centralization of power would be to look at some of our regulatory agencies, like the EPA, DHS, or Department of Education. Are they not unlike the legislative, judicial and executive branches, all rolled into one? They not only make the rules that we must live under, but they alone can judge our compliance with them and administer the consequences if we are found to be disobedient. Can you not see how such a centralization of power undermines personal freedom, which is the exact opposite of the intent of the Constitution?

I am no different than most, in that I wish that there would be a far quicker way to restore our Republic from the Progressive, liberty-stealing leadership that seems to have taken over Washington in the last several decades. However, I understand it was intended to be this way; change is tedious process, requiring patient perseverance, yet the very fact that we have this as a peaceful recourse is a good thing.  Any simple review of world history would reveal the capacity for evil that human beings can do in the name of “good” government. This is because as humans we are imperfect, fallible, and changing.  Only one perfect person has ever walked the Earth who proved Himself to be immune from the evil temptations of man, and contrary to what some may believe, He is not currently sitting in the White House.

Our Constitution recognizes that great things, often done out of self-interest, happen best through the private action of a nation’s citizens, not by the hand of government. Government, led by human beings, has a tendency to seek its own expansion in order to feed the very self-interest of those within it. The separation of powers is not a frustration of liberty, but a guarding of it. This is how we protect freedom from the avarices of ordinary men.

So, Mr. President, who or what are you trying to protect?

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