Does The United States Still Exist? March 26, 2016 An address delivered to the Libertarian Party of Florida on March 23, 2016 in Destin, Florida Paul Craig Roberts
To answer the question that is the title, we have to know of what the US consists. Is it an ethnic group, a collection of buildings and resources, a land mass with boundaries, or is it the Constitution. Clearly what differentiates the US from other countries is the US Constitution. The Constitution defines us as a people. Without the Constitution we would be a different country. Therefore, to lose the Constitution is to lose the country.
Does the Constitution still exist? Let us examine the document and come to a conclusion.
The Constitution consists of a description of a republic with three independent branches, legislative, executive, and judicial, each with its own powers, and the Bill of Rights incorporated as constitutional amendments. The Bill of Rights describes the civil liberties of citizens that cannot be violated by the government.
Article I of the Constitution describes legislative powers. Article II describes executive powers, and Article III describes the power of the judiciary. For example, Article I, Section 1 gives all legislative powers to Congress. Article I, Section 8 gives Congress the power to declare war.
The Bill of Rights protects citizens from the government by making law a shield of the people rather than a weapon in the hands of the government.
Our civil liberties are often said to be “natural rights” to which we are entitled. However, in historical fact civil liberty is a human achievement that required centuries of struggle. The long struggle for accountable law that culminated in the Glorious Revolution in England in the late 17th century can be traced back to Alfred the Great’s codification of English common law in the 9th century and to the Magna Carta in the early 13th century. Instead of issuing kingly edicts, Alfred based law on the traditional customs and behavior of the people. The Glorious Revolution established the supremacy of the people over the law and held the king and government accountable to law. The United States and other former British colonies inherited this accomplishment, an accomplishment that makes law a shield of the people and not a weapon in the hands of the state.
Today law as a shield of the people has been lost. The loss was gradual over time and culminated in the George W. Bush and Obama regime assaults on habeas corpus and due process. Lawrence Stratton and I explain how the law was lost in our book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions. Beginning with Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century, liberals saw the protective shield of law as a constraint on the government’s ability to do good. Bentham redefined liberty as the freedom of government from restraint, not the freedom of people from government. Bentham’s influence grew over time until in our own day, to use the words of Sir Thomas More in A man for All Seasons, the law was cut down so as to better chase after devils.
We cut down the law so that we could better chase after the Mafia.
We cut down the law so that we could better chase after drug users.
We cut down the law so that we could better chase after child abusers.
We cut down the law so that we could better chase after “terrorists.”
We cut down the law so that we could better chase after whistleblowers.
We cut down the law so that we could better cover up the government’s crimes.
Today the law is cut down. Any one of us can be arrested on bogus charges and be helpless to do anything about it.
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West, How America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.
Illegitimi non Carborundum
During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.