“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security…”
The Declaration of Independence – 1776
Why not read those words again before you move ahead with this blog. Do they sound extreme to you? I mean, “throw off such government;” that certainly sounds extreme, doesn’t it? Or does it?
Throwing off the chains of oppressive government meant taking up arms to the Founders. They did not have the protection of a Constitution they had dutifully adopted, endorsed, and wished to defend.
The Founders cited the primary reason for establishing government to be to “secure these [unalienable] rights,” the God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (translated in the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment to mean, the right to own property). Simply, a government that no longer defends life, liberty, and property, said the Founders, must be thrown off.
“The individual mandate is outside Congress’ Commerce Clause power, and it cannot be otherwise authorized by an assertion of power under the Necessary and Proper Clause. It is not Constitutional,” [i] wrote Federal Judge Roger Vinson. (Vinson ruled on the individual mandate to purchase health insurance required by the Affordable Care Act of 2010, passed by Democrats in Congress, and signed by President Obama.) Other judges have disagreed with Vinson, and the Supreme Court will ultimately decide.
When Congress acts in such a manner so as to attack liberty and property, as Vinson stated clearly in his ruling, what should we as citizens do? Well, if we agree that no one should be coerced by government to purchase something they may not want (in this case, health insurance), maybe we should resist? Sam Adams and the other Declaration signers would cheer us on.
Has the time come to resist?
The Declaration speaks of “a long train of abuses and usurpations” as a critical element in deciding whether to “throw off such government…” Judge Vinson’s decision looked back at how Congress has butchered, sliced, and diced the enumerated powers of the Commerce Clause; mostly since the 1930s. Vinson identified a train of ever-increasing, ever-broadening Congressional encroachments on private commerce. He quoted the Congressional Research Service and the Congressional Budget Office, both of which stated the individual mandate is an unprecedented expansion of the reach of the Commerce Clause.
When Congress decides to tell us that we must purchase health insurance has their action crossed the line into tyranny, or is that too strong of word? Would you supply me with an alternative? And is this a one-time assertion of power, or evidence that Congress intends to continue a long train of usurpations?
When you view the growth of government under the light of the Founders’ reasoning, and then under the scrutiny of history (including recent history), you see the “long train of abuses and usurpations” upon which the Founders based their claim to independence. The Founders chose to fight a hot war of rebellion as their answer, but resistance can take many other forms long before war becomes the only option. This is one of the chief blessings of our United States Constitutions.
What methods of resistance?
We express resistance to tyranny at the ballot box. We elect individuals to represent our views. If our view is that Congress does not have the power to force someone to purchase health insurance, we will resist Congressional tyranny by electing a different Congress. In fact, we started that process through the 2010 election, and hopefully, will continue it in 2012. So elections are an alternative to taking up arms, as an expression of resistance – God be praised.
Are there other ways to resist tyranny beyond the next election?
Lawsuits, such as the one Judge Vinson ruled upon, are one way to resist. Another is to ask state and federal lawmakers that are currently serving to use every possible legal scheme of which they can conceive to resist all federal encroachments on liberty. It means asking lawmakers to scrutinize all legislation related to the Affordable Care Act of 2010, searching for any instance in which they dare to challenge the federal government by taking no action, or taking adverse action.There is an ultimate form of resistance to tyranny that falls short of the Founders’ resort to arms: If millions of Americans choose en masse to resist laws that threaten unalienable rights to life, liberty, and property, Congress and the Courts will notice. Perhaps, if the individual mandate stands, we should incite millions of Americans to drop health insurance coverage as a form of civil disobedience; sort of like dumping tea into Boston Harbor.
On the other hand, millions of Americans may remain indifferent. Today’s elected state lawmakers may choose, instead, to capitulate to Congress. If so, James Carville may prove to be right when he said recently, “…we’re going to start to see civil unrest in this country. I hate to say that, but I think it’s imminently possible.”[ii]
[i] Case No.: 3:10-cv-91-RV/EMT - State of Florida v. United States Department of Health and Human Services
2011 Federal Court, Florida District: Florida. P 56.
[ii] Carville, J. (2011) “Carville: There Will be Civil Unrest—Over Economy.” Newsmax.com. June 6, 2011. http://www.newsmax.com/InsideCover/Carville-Obama-Clinton-civilunrest/2011/06/06/id/398990. Retrieved June 8, 2011.