Power in the people is like light in the sun, native, original, inherent and unlimited by any thing human. In governors, it may be compared to the reflected light of the moon; for it is only borrowed, delegated, and limited by the intention of the people…
James Burgh, Political Disquisitions
Unless we learn the lesson that James Burgh is trying to teach us in this quote – and get it ingrained in our minds and our hearts – it may be impossible for us to regain our freedom in this country. Over the years we’ve allowed most of our politicians to develop a smug attitude of superiority as if they are a part of a special, protected class of people.
When a person is elected to political office, he is taking a step down – not up. That person is becoming a servant, not a master. But somehow – as citizens – we let ourselves get pushed around by the various political institutions of this country rather than banding together and reminding our politicians who is really in charge.
The truth of the matter is that all political power originates in the people. So to whatever extent our politicians do have power, they only have it because we have allowed them to borrow it. The people who run our government are not born with special powers of judgement or wisdom that makes them uniquely qualified to tell us how to live our lives. So why do we sit back and accept it when they try to tell us what we can eat, what we must buy, or what we should feed our kids?
None of this should be construed to mean that we shouldn’t give our politicians the respect they deserve. But we have to avoid putting them on a pedestal too easily. A person should never be considered special just because he’s a member of Congress.
In his book Epic of America, James Trunslow Adams uses an anecdote that perfectly illustrates how we as citizens ought to react to public officials who start to get too impressed with their own power:
To a crowd that pressed too closely on a political procession, a gentleman at the head had called out, “Make way for the representatives of the people!” “Make way yourself!” was thundered back. “We are the People themselves.”
We must never underestimate the position of authority we hold as citizens of this country. Looking at our politicians as if they are somehow better or more important than we are is not the mindset of a free people – it is a mindset that leads to slavery. So every time a politician throws his weight around with us, our response ought to be, “Don’t you know who I am? I’m a citizen… and any power you have is because you are borrowing it from me.”