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Barb Wire

Constitutional Republicanism—Justice is Served, After All


On the face of it, Mitch McConnell’s attempt to preempt the judgment of the people of Alabama is blatantly unjust, plainly unconstitutional and obviously an act entirely motivated by vengeful arrogance. The primary voters in Alabama rejected his will, and he means to make it clear to them that he and his elitist friends are now the sovereign masters of this country, not the sovereign body of the people of the United States. The signs of his intent are the best proof yet that the elitist faction leadership of both wings of the current so-called two-party system have willfully abandoned their sworn duty, which is to help the people of the United States implement the scheme of representation the U.S. Constitution establishes for the self-government of the American people.

People like Senator McConnell obviously think that, contrary to the plain meaning of its words, the Constitution’s purpose is to give the appearance of lawful authority to what they smugly regard as self-vindicating exertions (and proofs) of their own superior power. They think it exists to make it less overtly violent and costly to impose their faction’s will, i.e., the will of those who once disdainfully arrogated to themselves alone titles of mastery, such as oligarch; noble; aristocrat, excellency, and other such vaunts of self-satisfied ambition.

What is worse, these titles once included words like person, gentry, gentle folk, and the like that were meant to distinguish human beings from creatures devoid of the traits and qualities that mark out humanity from the rest. From its very inception, the people of the United States rejected this arrogant elitist prerogative. They asserted human equality—in substance, by the power of God’s Almighty being and will; and in obligation, on account of the code whereby His will informs the existence of all things, including humanity. This code prescribes the conditions for human existence, the terms on which it is recognized as human, and preserved.

This understanding of God’s authority, was plainly expressed in the most famous words of the American Declaration of Independence. As a nation, we cannot too much revisit and ponder them, for they justify our sovereignty as a nation, and its root in each individual’s responsibility to God for the good of the body politc that, taken together, we comprise. Our sovereignty as a people is thus not restricted to this or that self-aggrandizing class among us. It derives from natural obligations that are shared by, and within the reach of, all of us.

To do right we must fulfill those obligations. This statement reminds us of the primordial meaning of the word right, as it is used in the Declaration of Independence. To do (exercise) right is to conserve and preserve our existence as human beings. The commitment to do (exercise) right in this way is the distinctive hallmark of the people of the United States. Obviously, this understanding of right is not just about how the material condition of one human being compares with that of another. It is about whether and how each of us expresses and acts on the will to take responsibility for the whole of humanity, as well as ourselves, according to the distinctive disposition God has prescribed for our nature. Whether the means at one’s disposal is a widow’s mite, or the mighty armies of the whole nation, the obligation remains a constant, equally applicable to all. This disposition to make provision to

care for the whole, and what comprises it, is an indispensable characteristic of sovereign justice, i.e., that which just powers exist to serve.

What we make of this equally shared obligation to do right by God’s will for the existence we all have in common, is much affect by another distinguishing feature of our humanity, our freedom. We are free to decline God’s will for our nature. This makes sense since our being derives its substance from God, whose freedom is absolute. He has freely determined Himself in every way our existence requires. But His freedom remains intact. If we reject His determination, as it were straying outside the bounds that (as the word ‘determination’ implies) arise in it, according to His will, the freedom we thereby choose necessarily implies an outbreak of God’s being as it is apart from (in the absence of) the determination by which He conforms Himself to the requirements of our existence. This outbreak implies our non-existence, which is, from our perspective, annihilation.

These reflections open our mind’s eye to the fact that the exercise of right and that of freedom are not synonymous. We cannot be too much reminded that every right involves freedom, but every freedom does not involve right. People have the choice to reject God’s provisions; to act as they please, regardless of the consequences for humanity or any other form of existence. That willfully contrary use of freedom is recognizable as the root of abuses and injustices in every sphere of human activity. When it appears in the political sphere, it raises the issue of justice, both in the damage it inflicts and the execution of justice it requires. It’s fair to say that every use of sovereign power involves this issue in some way. Therefore, when its requirements are simply abandoned, that dereliction does not just threaten those directly damaged, it threatens the existence of the just community as a whole.

What better way to assure that this threat is never neglected than to make the whole people responsible for the sovereign powers that may thus be abused. Like the human body, when one part of the body politic hurts, that hurt is liable to be felt by others, and eventually communicated to the whole. This may be the good reason why America’s Founders preferred democratic republicanism to every other constitutional alternative. It may not deal with injustices instantly—but it makes it far more likely they will be dealt with after all. This is what has happened, time and again, in the history of the United States. There is no reason on earth or in Heaven, to let an elitist clique manipulate us into discarding it now.


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