July 4 is not merely a celebration of independence from Great Britain. After all, the official independence was declared two days prior, on July 2. July 4 is when we celebrate the adoption of a government built upon self-evident truths and God-given rights. We celebrate a governing blueprint for a free people that affirms not only the individual rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness but the right of a given civil society to be governed only by its consent – all ordained by natural law and nature’s God. 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.”
Almost two and a half centuries later, the very essence of consent-based governance, rooted in popular sovereignty, jurisdictional sovereignty, and the social compact, has been completely obliterated in spectacular fashion. This obliteration has come from a source our Founders never feared in their worst nightmares – the unelected courts.
It was the Declaration of Independence that inspired the creation of a “republican” form of government 11 years later at the Constitutional Convention. The self-evident truth that government must derive its powers from the governed people inspired a system of checks and balances and a dual-track government built upon federalism. The framers of the Constitution understood that in a representative republic, all important decisions must flow directly or indirectly from the people through their elected representatives and through the unit of government, ideally, that is most closely tied to the people.
The declaration of a consent-based social compact and system of governance was inspired by the colonial-era rallying cry of “no taxation without representation.” Inherent in this principle is that no forces outside a society – that is, forces not controlled by the members of that society itself – may determine the destiny of that society. Now, as we watch the July 4 fireworks dimmed by the darkness of tyranny, we are facing an autocratic usurpation that dwarfs the magnitude of what our Founders faced from the British monarch. Whereas they were confronted with taxation without representation, we are under attack from the most unimaginable and extreme forces of social transformation without representation at the hands of a lawyerly elite.
Social transformation without representation
Forget about a handful of taxes: We now have a bizarre lawyerly clique in black robes who have become the sole and final arbiters of marriage, abortion, election law, and every other major societal question of our time. Thanks to the courts, we no longer have individual sovereignty to decide the most basic social and political questions through our elected branches of government. Worse, we no longer have national sovereignty, because the most important social question of all – the future membership and orientation of the society itself (immigration/citizenship) – has been stripped from the people and placed in the hands of the courts.
In Federalist 39, Madison defined a republican form of government as follows:
We may define a republic to be, or at least may bestow that name on, a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure, for a limited period, or during good behavior. It is ESSENTIAL to such a government that it be derived from the great body of the society, not from an inconsiderable proportion, or a favored class of it; otherwise a handful of tyrannical nobles, exercising their oppressions by a delegation of their powers, might aspire to the rank of republicans, and claim for their government the honorable title of republic. It is SUFFICIENT for such a government that the persons administering it be appointed, either directly or indirectly, by the people; and that they hold their appointments by either of the tenures just specified…
This is indeed the very essence of what the Declaration of Independence was teaching the world about self-governance.
Fast-forward 241 years, and unelected, life-tenured judges now control every single issue, including the issue that determines the makeup of the citizenry itself. They have flipped the Constitution inside-out and upside-down. Federal powers, they have given to the states; state powers, they have given to the federal government. They rule opposite to the meaning of what is written in plain English in statute. What is antithetical to laws passed by Congress, they enshrine as the law of the land.
They have read God out of our Constitution and our society. They have taken these very self-evident God-given rights of religious liberty and property rights and have replaced them with court-given rights to a gay wedding cake and an Islamic liberty right to immigrate from Somalia. Yet, despite these judges’ unelected status and their bad behavior, our body politic continues to view their opinions as the sole and final law of the land.
There is literally nothing even a lowly district judge can do that will elicit the appropriate response from the other branches of government and the people. When describing the power of a king and contrasting it with that of a president, Alexander Hamilton declared that a king “can make denizens of aliens, noblemen of commoners; can erect corporations with all the rights incident to corporate bodies.” Our modern courts are doing the same. We have no individual sovereignty, state sovereignty, national sovereignty, or ability to protect our national security – all thanks to the bizarre clique on the benches of our courts.
In a word, the Declaration of Independence was all about “sovereignty.” Now, stolen sovereignty has become the law of the land. In the text of the indictment portion of the Declaration, the colonists accused the king of denying them the ability to pass “laws of immediate and pressing importance,” of subjecting them “to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws,” and of bringing in dangerous Indian tribes to violate their sovereignty and security. Now, all of these indictments apply to the kings in robes.
True, 241 years later, we can still celebrate our independence from Britain. But that is not really what we are celebrating today. We are celebrating the values behind that revolution that made us a free people. As John Adams said:
“But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments, of their duties and obligations….This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution.”
This revolution of principles, opinions, sentiments, religious values, duties, and obligations has been totally countermanded by a surreptitious yet relentless counter-revolution. This counter-revolution has rotted out the civil society to the point at which it is willing to lose its own sovereignty, not directly at the hands of a foreign power, but at the hands of a domestic power sheltered and emboldened within our own society.
According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, the word sovereignty refers to “a country’s independent authority and the right to govern itself” – one that is “free from external control.” We no longer have Britain dictating our future, but we have unelected and unaccountable courts enabling any random Islamist in Somalia or Syria to immigrate here or illegal aliens from Central America to force their way into our society, demand legal representation, obtain citizenship for their children, and suck us dry or even commit crimes.
We have courts forcing individuals to violate their religious conscience – a right identified in the Declaration – with their own private property in order to serve something that is antithetical to natural law and nature’s God, referenced in the very document enumerating fundamental rights. We certainly don’t have any semblance of self-government in this era of social transformation without representation.
Keeping God as supreme is the only way to keep self-governance alive
Yes, it all gets back to God … because it all began with God. The Declaration didn’t merely mention God. It identified God as the source of the most foundational rights. It is to protect these rights that we created a government. That government must be ordained by consent of the people. Without God, people cannot be free, because, by definition, they will be governed by the capricious whims of a man-made authority.
As he was signing this earth-shattering document, Sam Adams exclaimed, “We have this day restored the Sovereign to Whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come.”
As late as the 1980s, we had a president who spoke of the “unshakeable belief in God as the foundation of our Nation.” That foundation has now been ruled unconstitutional by the courts … unless it is referring to Allah and the assertion of a Somali “religious liberty” right to immigrate.
Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration, warned of turning away from God and the consequences for liberty, which comes from the same source:
“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
We have not only elevated the unelected judges above the power of even King George, we have elevated them above God. The courts now have the power to overturn natural law endowed on us by God. It’s time we follow our forefathers and appeal to the “supreme judge of the world” with “a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence,” as they did in the Declaration.
Fortunately, we don’t have to fight another war, reinvent the wheel, or discover another new form of government in order to succeed. The solutions are in our Constitution – from throwing out the bad politicians in both parties, to stripping the courts of jurisdiction, to convening a Convention of the States.
To defeat the counter-revolution, we can restore our Republic with sheer initiative and willpower. But that will require a movement that eschews the current distraction of party politics and one that appeals to the ultimate sovereign for help. That will require a movement that stands affirmatively for what is right, for natural law, and self-evident truths, not just tepid political complaining about one political party or the media. What is it we stand for?
Outcomes are for God. Our job is to stand for our timeless principles. Our job is Micah 6:8 — to do justice, to embrace loving-kindness, and to walk humbly with our God, not to get sucked into the binary idolatry of the lesser of two evils we are confronted with daily. It does look rather hopeless at this point, but God can change that.
If we want to remain a sovereign people and a sovereign nation, indeed we must return our hearts, minds, and prayers to the ultimate sovereign of the universe and recognize the self-evident truths that come from him. On them will we actualize the final words of John Adams, “Independence forever.” For those who adhere to God’s sovereignty, and therefore, the sovereignty of the individual and the nation, will truly remain independent.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.