When a committee of five, consisting of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston, and Thomas Jefferson, drafted the Declaration of Independence 240 years ago, they didn’t merely pen a list of grievances against the British monarch and establish the rationale for American independence. They drafted the most foundational governing document of modern history, establishing the very essence of the relationship between man and government, the purpose of government, the contours of fundamental rights, and the source of those rights.
It is perhaps for this reason why we celebrate July 4, the day the official document was approved, rather than July 2, the day the Continental Congress actually declared independence. We are not only celebrating our national independence day but our God-given rights as individuals and as a society, as expressed in this extraordinary document. As Calvin Coolidge observed in his speech commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Declaration, “It was not because it was proposed to establish a new nation, but because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles, that July 4, 1776, has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history.”
While our Founders knew their independence was tenuous at best, none of them could have envisioned that their handiwork would someday be countermanded, not by the usurpation of a monarch, but by a society that collectively and cumulatively used that very document to promote the most antithetical values to the liberties they sought to preserve. They could never have envisioned a society that would use their own words to promote ideals that violate the most immutable self-evident truths of natural law and the will of nature’s God.
The Declaration is so much more than an expression of independence
In just 201 words of the preamble, Jefferson and his colleagues established six inviolate principles on the morality of a just governing system:
After posting my July 4 manifesto last year, I was inspired to write Stolen Sovereignty, which will be released this month, to warn that over two centuries later, every one of those self-evident rights has been bastardized and supplanted by ideals and concepts that are antithetical to fundamental rights. Sadly, our political class has retroactively enshrined its agenda into our original document, even though it violates the laws of nature and nature’s God.
Consider the following ways these rights have been twisted:
And in fact, it is the unelected branches of government, who do not have that legitimacy to act on behalf of the entire people as a majoritarian legislature does, that are violating the few inalienable rights that are outside of the reach of power of even the majority of elected representatives. It’s no coincidence that Madison used the example of “conscience” as a fundamental right outside the reach of majoritarian governance, yet it is courts along with state and federal bureaucrats that are promulgating anti-property and anti-conscience mandates, even against the popular will of those states.
Not only has the right to a republican form of government been taken away from us, it has been replaced with a tyrannical politburo – led by the judicial oligarchy – which countermands the rights expressed in the Declaration and governs us with values that are as far removed from those our Founders espoused imaginable.
As I explain in detail in Stolen Sovereignty, nowhere is the principle of governance by the consent of the governed violated more than in immigration policy. Our current immigration policy has no connection whatsoever to any legislation that was honestly sold to the public. In the case of illegal immigration, it is the result of the government failing to do its number one job – protect the sovereignty of the people. It is also the result of the courts granting illegal immigrants more rights to remain here, having their children vote in our elections and be counted in the census. In the case of odious legal immigration policies, the American people would never have voted for the 1965 or 1980 immigration and refugee bills had they been privy to the true motivations of those bills. In fact, those bills were sold as vehicles to stabilize immigration.
Madison made it clear that immigration can only be done with the legitimate consent of the people through representative democracy: “In the case of naturalization a new member is added to the social compact … by a majority of the governing body, deriving its powers from a majority of the individual parties to the social compact.” Yet illegal immigrants can now violate our laws, universally assert jurisdiction for their children, have their children vote in our elections, and spawn chain migration.
We have now come full circle when the few bedrock, inalienable rights that should be protected from majoritarian rule are not protected, while new super-rights are concocted against the will of the people for protected classes to immigrate under any circumstance. Nobody explained the principle of true equality and its consequences better than John Quincy Adams in an 1820 letter to a prospective German immigrant:
But there is one principle which pervades all the institutions of this country, and which must always operate as an obstacle to the granting of favors to new comers. This is a land, not of privileges, but of equal rights. Privileges are granted by European sovereigns to particular classes of individuals, for purposes of general policy; but the general impression here is that privileges granted to one denomination of people, can very seldom be discriminated from erosions of the rights of others.
The ideals and principles of fundamental rights are twisted beyond recognition, in many respects more profoundly than they were when our Founders took up arms to establish this very nation. King George could never have conjured up such social transformation without representation, nor did he violate the sovereignty of the colonies the way our unelected branches of government do today. Indeed, these abuses and usurpations are anything but the “light and transient causes” for which our Founders warned against rebellion.
It’s time to think beyond the next election
We are not only suffering from a constitutional crisis, one that undermines the document of 1789, we are ailing from a foundational crisis concerning the most self-evident truths of life, as established in 1776. It’s high time for our side to think longer and broader than merely the next election, for it is that short-sightedness that has allowed this cancer to metastasize and confront us with the severity of our current predicament. We must first recognize the severity of the problem and that we are not merely one Republican victory away from restoring our self-evident truths and fundamental rights. We need an all-of-the-above approach, never missing an opportunity to advance the cause of ordered liberty, sovereignty, and republicanism in the realm of policy, elections, and the culture. We must stop using “liberal military rules of engagement” in pursuit of constitutional conservatism; we must use George Patton’s rules of engagement and boldly go on offense against our enemy.
In order to prevent the imminent collapse of our most inalienable rights and our sovereignty as a nation-state and to preserve the ability of American citizens to still decide their own destiny on critical social and political issues of our time, I propose the following reforms in Stolen Sovereignty:
All of these reforms can be done statutorily. They address the most systemic and immediate problems inhibiting our ability to defend our individual and national sovereignty. If these issues are not dealt with in the next few years, liberty and property rights will be gone, the courts will control every facet of our lives, and demographics will become our destiny – all collectively precluding conservatives from even striving to change hearts and minds and win at the ballot box.
Reform the primary system: In the long run we must work toward restoring our original republican form of government, but in order to implement those ideas, we must first secure our men and women on the field and win over the current party system. We can’t implement our ideas if we have no political vehicle to reap the windfall of a public that hopefully becomes more sympathetic to our ideas. As I previously explained, the primary system is a lasting legacy of the progressives and should be replaced with representative conventions. This will allow us to elect a critical mass of individuals in a short enough time span who share our founding values so we can throw the ball down the field.
Reclaiming power for the states: We need to focus greater attention on electing better state representatives in red states. This will allow us to open up a new front and push back against federal tyranny on a state level. It will also lay the groundwork for getting states to promote constitutional amendments through the Article V process. If the shredding of fundamental rights and state powers continues, we will have to begin ignoring the federal government and pushing for civil disobedience. It is always better to have a unified state government doing so, as opposed to individual people. Focusing more of our resources on state officials will allow us to seek refuge in the protection of at least a handful of red states, a luxury we currently do not have because most red state-Republican parties are just as bad as D.C. Republicans.
Our Founders didn’t establish this system of governance looking no further than 2-4 years down the road. They played the long game. We must do the same if we hope to secure the republic for our posterity.
These are just a few ideas that we here at Conservative Review have been discussing over the past few months and I share in greater detail with the release of Stolen Sovereignty. More importantly, we all must challenge each other not to sit idly and complain, yet take no definitive action to redress these grievances in a meaningful way. We must not opt to “suffer, while evils are sufferable.” Those of us who work full-time in the public arena of political ideas must not view this as another desk job. Much like a frog in a boiling pot of water, the evils will eventually become insufferable, but it will be too late for action. At that point, our only recourse will be to actualize the final principle of the Declaration, something we would all rather avoid.
Let’s party like it’s 1776.
Editor’s note: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this piece included an extraneous fragment in the last section. It has been removed.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.