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ON PRINCIPLES, PURPOSES AND RIGHTS
by Rep. Susan Lynn
Principles are important – without them we get off track and lose our way. Many believe that our federal government has lost its way while others just don’t understand why so many object to the “change” taking place today.
Let’s look at some of the foundational principles of American government; the principles that made our nation great.
The purpose of our government is to secure our rights
The Declaration of Independence established the American view of the rights of man and the duties of government. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” They concluded by stating that our “separate but equal station” with Britain and other governments of the world would give us “full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do.”
Our Constitution, drafted in 1787, used the Declaration of Independence as a guide to governance. The Constitution up-holds the purpose of our government, to secure our rights, and provides seventeen specific powers to the federal government in Article 1, Section 8. Two years later a Bill of Rights was added by the states in order to prevent misconstruction and abuse of federal powers; succeeding amendments bring the total number of enumerated federal powers to 30. None of those 30 powers grant general legislative authority to the federal government. In fact, such powers belong only to the states; called police powers – states pass laws to secure the rights of individuals.
So what they created is the freest county in the world – with a government that recognizes mans’ unalienable rights, and whose purpose is to secure those rights for its citizens’. In the United States, all have freedom and all understand that we can express our freedoms until we infringe upon another’s freedom. Except where individual actions may infringe on the unalienable and Constitutional rights of another, our government is to stay out of the affairs of the people and of business.
Our government cannot take-away or infringe on our rights
Our nation, our Constitutional Republic is based upon natural rights. But just what are unalienable rights and Constitutional rights? An unalienable right is a natural right granted to man by our Creator; described ever so simply as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in our Declaration of Independence and it is also a Constitutional right. Life is, well, life. Examples of liberty are freedom to believe, or become, or protect yourself; a right to your speech, your reputation, and the things you create. Pursuit of happiness is freedom to make your own way, own your own property or live anywhere; a right to what you earn.
Constitutional rights such as trial by jury, to bear arms and vote don’t seem natural. They are not natural, but they do serve to directly secure our natural rights. For instance, who judges our actions is very important because we can lose our liberty as punishment. Arms are not natural – but protecting yourself, especially from your own government, is a natural right. Therefore, the right to bear arms serves to secure your natural rights. The right to vote protects your right to self-determination and liberty, even speech. All in all, unalienable or Constitutional, our rights are rights which no government can take-away, question or alter, they are unalienable. No social contract can cause us to surrender these rights.
Rights are of no cost to anyone else
My freedom of speech costs you nothing. Your freedom of religion costs me nothing.
The liberal error; confusing needs with rights; confusing positive and negative.
What liberals tend to do is to believe that they can “create” rights out of needs and then demand those rights from the government in the form of services – such as for health care. The liberals’ major mistake is that they not only misunderstand what rights are but they also misinterpret rights as “positive rights” – in other words, that the government has an obligation to provide a particular right to each citizen.
For example, we have laws against crime, and in the past there have been times when citizens have sued the government because the police didn’t arrive in time to prevent that crime. While you have a natural right not to be harmed, there is no right to expect that the government will prevent you from becoming a victim of a crime; the government is not at any fault or liability in this instance.
Liberals need to understand that rights are natural and negative. There cannot be a natural right to health care. Making health care a right requires infringing upon your rights and the rights of others. Aches and pains are natural but there is no natural right that someone must tend to your every ache or pain. To take resources (money, labor or goods) from one to give to another violates our natural right to our own property. For the government to force you to buy something that is not for the purpose of protecting the rights of another, such as liability car insurance, is a taking of your property in direct violation of your rights.
America is about freedom
Defending our nation from foreign invaders, serving justice through the courts and constructing an orderly monetary and bankruptcy system are enumerated powers in the Constitution. Each of those federal powers helps to secure the continuance of our government, our liberty and our property. Government financing of health care is not an enumerated power of the federal government nor is health care a natural right.
In fact today, the federal government does thousands of things not enumerated in the Constitution – and although it has become customary in Washington, this is why millions object. You can’t fundamentally change the fact that the whole point and most unique feature of our American government is that the government cannot infringe or take-away our natural, unalienable or Constitutional rights.
Federal legislators have had a good time through the 20th and now 21st century infringing on the states, and satisfying the Liberals by creating all kinds of programs and laws that spend trillions and trillions of dollars, all of it at direct expense to individual freedom and liberty and states’ rights.
What most of us want liberals to understand is that the most important basic principle of our American government is – America is about freedom. The citizen is in charge. He is not just a funding source for the federal legislators’ – there are limits to federal power and purpose. It is the American people that have always solved the problems of our nation – and we must be free in order to continue to do so.
Susan Lynn represents the 57th Legislative District in the Tennessee House of Representatives, serves as chairman of the House Government Operations Committee and sits on the Calendar & Rules and the Commerce Committees as well as the Small Business Sub-Committee. www.repsusanlynn.com.
By Rep. Susan Lynn