I consider the central idea pervading this struggle is the necessity that is upon us, of proving that popular government is not an absurdity. – Abraham Lincoln
That, boiled down, was all the Civil War was about. Lincoln’s view was that regardless of any complaints the South had about the result of the 1860 election or the structure and function of American government, they could not legitimately break up the country because they didn’t get their way. Popular government requires that the losers accept the loss and set their minds to reversing the result at a future election. But there was more to Lincoln’s statement than the immediate problem of the Civil War – the assertion is rather universal: is popular government something wise, or nothing but folly? The jury is still out. Spoiler: the jury will always be out. It is an endless effort.
Popular government has two requirements: the aforementioned acceptance of the election results and that the government never seeks to thwart the popular will. People have to get out there and campaign and vote, accept the results and then the government has to do what it was elected to do within the restrictions of the Constitution. Obviously, we’ve settled whether or not secession is something to do when you lose, but we haven’t settled whether or not popular government can maintain a system where the popular will prevails. The popular will is whatever the people want done now via Constitutional means and the unrepealed Constitutional things they did in the past: the government, to be truly popular, must do both to the best of it’s ability – honor what exists, and implement what is desired under law.
Voting is, of course, only a mechanism for assessing the popular will. It tells us who convinced the most people to go along with a party or candidate. This is a very important thing, but it isn’t the end of it. Voting is only an aspect of how things work. Far more important is what the government does once it is in power. First and foremost, does it do what it said it would do? Secondly, does it obey the law as it does things? A government which doesn’t do what was proposed – or, even worse, does the opposite – is deliberately thwarting the popular will. A government that doesn’t obey the law is attacking the very concept of popular government.
And as I said, our experiment is still on-going – and we’re rather up against it. For a short while there, the example of America started to spread liberty around the world. But even at its peak in, say, the 1950’s, the freedoms being established weren’t American freedoms. They were conditional. How so? Well, let’s take a look.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Congress shall make no law. That is a very vigorous statement. Doesn’t matter how bad you want it. Doesn’t matter how justified you think you are or even if 90% of the people agree with you…Congress shall make no law. Boom, as the hip people say. Done. Now, to be sure, you can break the law and so make laws against free speech and so forth, but if you are obeying the law – as is required for popular government to work – then you have no recourse other than changing the Constitution, a very difficult process and even here in 2022 you’d never get close to an Amending majority to change so much as a word of that. Now, how about this for a contrast:
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
The Canadian Charter goes on for quite a bit after that detailing this, that and the other thing but it is all moot: Everything after the word “it” negates what was said before and makes nonsense of what comes after. What are “reasonable limits”? The Charter doesn’t define them so what a “reasonable limit” is will be whatever the government of the day decrees…and as that government, via the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, essentially controls the terms of the political debate, it isn’t like the people have a real shot at changing who will be decreeing what is reasonable. The current government of Canada got 32.6% of the vote last election – and just today it announced that it is freezing handgun purchases…because, to the government, that is a reasonable limit. And as we saw with the trucker protests, the government will also decide what are the reasonable limits to popular opposition to government decrees.
Neat, huh? Voting all over the place…and your freedoms are non-existent; entirely depending on the government deciding whether they meet reasonable limits.
And it is like that all over the world. Either there is no specific assertion of the rights of the people (France’s Constitution, for instance, only asserts that it honors the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man – but it doesn’t make them obligatory under French law), or such assertions are hemmed in with weasel words allowing the government to do whatever it wants. Only in the United States do you get things like Congress shall make no law or shall not be infringed. And, let me tell you, this just irritates the heck out of our Ruling Class.
And don’t act all surprised about this – what government ever really wants to limit itself? Well, we know of one, and just one: The Constitutional Convention of 1787. For the very first and only time in history, a group of people came together to craft a government which would have built in provisions to limit the power of government. Most people – even most historically literate people – don’t realize how astonishing this is. People who are drawn to government are, after all, mostly drawn to power. Such people are inherently unlikely to enact anything that would actually stop them from doing something. But in 1787, a whole bunch of people drawn to power did just that. It was a miracle – and as I said many years before, I think that God moved them to do as they did. Can’t prove it, but what emerged out of Philadelphia in 1787 was so unique and so sublime that I can only credit God for it. But, that aside, the main thing is that it was done.
And ever since then, people far less worthy than the Founders have tried to work their way around it. You can just look at a Pelosi or a Clinton and see them burning with envy at Justin Trudeau just deciding, all on his own, that you can’t buy a pistol in Canada any longer. They hate the fact that here in America there are clear, easy to understand laws which say the government can’t do that. And of course they still circumvent the law as often as they can. But even that probably bothers them – they have to dress it up, slip it into a must-pass bill, make sure the MSM gets the right Narrative…and all the while they have the fear that our genuinely independent judiciary will strike it down, with the added complication that dozens of States are likely to resist and by non-cooperation and lawsuits cause all manner of trouble. So, soooo much easier if you could just get Pudding Brain to sign a decree between Matlock and Nap Time.
And they also very much prefer that our ability to speak, worship, own property, be armed and so forth were subject to their arbitrary interpretation of what the law says. They really want some “reasonable limits”!
They’re trying to get those “reasonable limits”. Been trying for decades and they’ll never quit. Dressed up as “gun safety”, “reproductive rights”, “equity” and such, they are very much trying to impose some “reasonable limits” on us. And we have to fight them off – as preparation for utterly destroying them as a political force. We must do this because we must continue to obey Lincoln – we must, that is, continue to prove that popular government isn’t an absurdity. It is either win this fight, or throw up the sponge and look for the first likely dictator who at least promises to leave us alone in our personal beliefs. We’d get the choice between the Left’s Lenin, or our Caesar. I don’t want that – I’d rather we kept freedom. But, in the end, there might not be enough of us to do that. But I’m sure going to try.
This is still the world’s last, best hope. Has been since 1776 and will be until such time as the rest of the world starts writing into its laws the things government isn’t allowed to do. And in this, you’ll now pardon me if I don’t give a damn about the world and it’s problems. This is a big reason why I’m indifferent to things like Ukraine: I’ve got bigger fish to fry right now. Namely, making sure America as founded continues to exist. All else comes a very distant second to that. We are, thank God, not involved in a hot Civil War, but we’re just as much in a Civil War as ever…because as was said regarding the last one, the House must become all one thing or all the other. Either we restore an America where government is restricted, or we become an America where the people are.
It’s hard to even comment anymore on the current chaos in this country and around the world. If people can’t see through the lies and corruption of the Ruling Class now, I give up. The illegitimate POTUS and his family are beyond corrupt and seriously compromised by our foreign adversaries all the while the “Soviet style” American Media tries to convince everyone that everything is going along swimmingly – even Fox.
We have too many cowards in this country. Having an irrational fear over a flu virus is one thing, but cowering to an angry mob mentality is inexcusable and yet both of these blatant fascist tactics have worked extremely well.
I just don’t see this country getting back on a Constitutional track without some pain.
I think we will all be shocked by the extent of the lies and corruption of the Deep State Ruling Class. I think it exceeds even the wildest conspiracy theory
I think this new meme echoes the sentiments of many Americans.
OT, but certainly apropos to many of our current discussions, Jeff Childers has an interesting take on the war in Ukraine.
Mark is a more serious student of history than I am. Any thoughts?
That is interesting coming from the NYT. Definitely a 180. There are glimmers of hope out there. People are starting to wake up
You know, I hadn’t heard that – our US-Ukraine Charter on Strategic Partnership. Didn’t know that as a matter of policy we were going to help Ukraine regain the Crimea. Now, this could be a good or bad idea, but I don’t remember the MSM or Team Pudding Brain emphasizing this document at the time and it certainly appears that we weren’t prepared for the likely Russian response – war. Can’t help Ukraine secure the Crimea if Ukraine is a Russian province, now can we?
I mean, that is a rather large step. Why in hell would we take it? I mean, why take such a forward position without taking the necessary preliminary steps to ensure that if Russia does get upset, everyone is 100% prepared?
But, that is just Team Pudding Brain all over – and maybe this was the price Ukraine extracted for helping Team Biden in 2020? Who knows – we’ll never really find out and if we do, a DC jury made up of Joe’s friends will come back with not guilty.
As for the student of history…would be interesting if Russia mid-wifed a Third World War as they did the first two. WWI – for Lord only knows what reason, the Russians encouraged State-sponsored Serbian terrorists to kill the Archduke and then when Austria-Hungary justifiably sought to strike back, Russia decided on war with Austria-Hungary. WWII – Stalin essentially gave Hitler the go-ahead. Now, Putin…who likely took a look at the paper strength of the two military forces and figured he’d have a walk-over. Putin forgot that he’s Russian and so are his people…zero chance that airborne op on Kiev was going to work because that took crackerjack timing between air and ground forces and the Russian troops are not, never have been and likely never will be capable of that. You’d be lucky to carry that out with the 82nd Airborne at peak readiness.
Before the war Putin, or his comms people, put out an op-ed under his name wherein he explained his justifications for the coming conflict – its a bit of a hodge-podge of things but running through is the main thread that Russians don’t consider Ukrainians a different nationality. They don’t consider Ukraine anything other than part of Russia. Putin put it out as his justification that Ukraine is only separate from Russia due to the wicked action of the descendants of the Banderites and the machinations of the West. For those who need a refresher: Stepan Bandera was the leader of a Ukrainian nationalist organization which, during WWII, cooperated with the Nazi invaders. Up to and including some participation in the Holocaust. Needless to say, in Russian history, Bandera and his people are not treated with sympathy. And, truth be told, the Banderites were mixed bag – the core of them was merely interested in getting rid of Stalin’s rule…but as is the nature of such things, lots of others were involved and these included some genuinely bad people. That the Banderites also did fight Nazis hasn’t excused them in Russia…and it is very unfortunate that many Ukrainian nationalists of today have adopted the symbols of the Banderites, many of which were taken straight from Nazi symbols. The upshot of all this is that Putin and those who support him figure they are rescuing their fellow Russians from evil.
How much of this does Putin really believe? No way to know. Cynicism is a long-standing hallmark of Russian policy. But I’ve also seen some video where at least some Russians appear to believe it…and it is clear that the Ukrainian nationalists are not pure as wind-driven snow here…war being a cruel, nasty business, people do get out of hand.
As for Team Pudding Brain: there is no doubt they are in over their heads. They are, to a man, woman and xir, educated at elite institutions over the past 30 years and so all they know is a cartoonish, two-dimensional view of the world which is also based upon flat-out lies. There is zero chance they will craft the right policy because they lack the knowledge necessary to hit upon the correct policy. They’ll just drift from bad to worse – and we hope that they’re out of office before they blow up the world. Oddly, Macron is on the right track – Ukraine can’t win a war of attrition against Russia so it is now time to induce Putin to name his price for peace…if it is too high, then the political will in the West can be mustered to take even stronger efforts against Russia…but if the price is reasonable, then it is time for Ukraine to call it quits and resign the ethnic-Russian eastern quarter of the Ukraine…which was only added to Ukraine for political purposes by Stalin.
The very last history course I took in college in the fall of 1967 was Europe after WW2. I graduated 1 hour short of a minor in history, but life somehow got in the way of continuing to pursue it on my own. So, while I’m fascinated by historical accounts such as what you often relate here, I’m no longer a student of history, largely due to a memory that just isn’t what it used to be. Thanks for the response. It’s one of the reasons I continue to come here after almost 2 decades.
I wish I had more time for the blog but the books just take up almost all my writing time – and it is more fun than writing about politics.
A little anecdotal story on the state of the country. My son was flying to NY today for a few days and his flight on United was canceled, citing weather ?? They had no other options and simply told my son to “try again tomorrow”. Well considering that was not an option, he asked for a refund and the United attendant said “no problem” and he refunded the money which is unheard of, but the attendant said that he was so sick of the chaos that he doesn’t blame the travelers and is just refunding anyone who asks lol.
We are a third world country.
We’ll be lucky if we end up in third-world status.
Becoming very much so.