In case you missed it, on Tuesday night after Rick Santorum finished speaking Markos Moultisas sent out a series of tweets that seemed like they were designed to prove that he understands absolutely nothing about our Constitution. It was almost surreal.
Here’s the first tweet (both via Hotair.com):
After being called out for being completely misinformed about perhaps the single most important idea involved in the founding of this country – that we all have equal and God-given rights – Markos dug the whole deeper by tweeting this nugget of brilliance:
Karl over at Hotair.com has already done a pretty good job of tearing apart the idiocy of these comments so I won’t cover the same ground. (Mike at the Political Operative does a nice job as well.) However, there was one point Karl didn’t point out that is worth noting.
Markos is so confused here that the evidence he uses to support his original tweet – the “We the people” phrase – is actually one of the strongest arguments against his claim.
The short version of the argument is this: the phrase “We the People” is an acknowledgement that the Founders believed that – for a government to be legitimate – it has to be established or consented to by the people. That belief comes from the idea that all men are endowed by God with equal rights. The fact that the founders begin the Constitution with the phrase “We the People” actually indicates their belief that our rights come from God – not the government.
Now for the longer version.
In the Preamble, when the Founders used the phrase “We the People of the United States [...] do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America” they certainly weren’t saying that the government is the grantor of rights – as Markos claims. If the Founders believed that, the Constitution would have started with something along the lines of, “The King of the United States hereby decrees that the following document is law…”
The fact that they started with the phrase – We the People – actually tells us a lot. For one thing, it tells us that this country wasn’t founded on the idea that rights were granted by government. To find out how, let’s start at the beginning.
We know from the Declaration of Independence that the Founders believed that all men are endowed by their Creator with equal rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
With that in mind, if two people on a deserted island had to create a government – how would they decide who would rule over the other? They are both equals, so one is not naturally superior to the other. They both have a right to liberty, so one person couldn’t legitimately impose a government on the 2nd person because that would violate his right to liberty.
If all men are created equal, then the only legitimate way to create a government is for the people who will be governed to agree to it. This is where we get the phrase in the Declaration of Independence:
“…Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
This means that political sovereignty doesn’t come from a king, a Congress, or any government. The only true source of political authority is the people themselves.
So when the Founders start with the phrase “We the People” they are basically saying, “Hey the power of this government is legitimate because this Constitution was written and approved by the people.” And again, this entire idea is based on the belief that all men are created with equal rights.
The lesson here – Markos is very, very wrong and very misguided. Not exactly breaking news, but important nonetheless.
As a final note that I can’t resist adding, if you take two seconds to look through the Bill of Rights you’ll see even more evidence that the Founders did not believe that the government granted rights. Throughout the Bill of Rights the text refers to protecting rights that already exist. For example, the 2nd Amendment states:
“[T]he right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
Note that it doesn’t say, “This Constitution grants the people a right to keep and bear arms.” The wording hear is clear that a right to bear arms existed before the creation of the government and that this amendment intended to protect that right.
It’s not surprising to find out that progressives believe that the government is the source of our rights and should have total authority over the people. But it is simply mind-boggling to learn that they are foolish enough to believe that those ideas were the foundation for the United States Constitution.