Reply To: A better Bill of Rights, Constitution 2.0


I debated with myself whether to continue this conversation because I think we are just going to have to agree to disagree. However, I find some of the points you both are making to be remarkable and so I will remark on them.

First, the Declaration as a model for government. Agreed, it does not define the mechanics of how government should be instituted. Instead it tells us what good government is in order to explain that we did not have one. It tells us that good government is:

“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, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence…”

In that, it does define good government and that is the published model that I am referring to and which is not the model that the Constitution followed. Which is a good segue into…

Ref the Articles, those are not the people, those are the states. The implied “sovereign people” are not sovereign if their Rights are given to them by a state or the ‘State’. This is an important point that the Declaration made that was not included in the Constitution as it does not acknowledge our unalienable Rights. Instead it grants them to us via Amendments, which are by definition, State granted and State controlled. Per our current government, we are a people that are privileged by government with certain Rights. The key word being ‘privileged’ and the transitory nature that implies.

In contrast, my opinion, a government that was based on the ideas in the Declaration would have started with our unalienable Rights and our Powers and defined itself based on protecting those Rights by acting as our Proxy using our lent Powers. If we were to discuss a Constitution 2.0 that is where I would want to start.

Lastly, ref what I think is a dismissal of the Declaration as something, well, to be dismissed, I would disagree. Ask an average American if any of the following phrases are familiar: Right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness; Unalienable Rights; Consent of the Governed; These Truths to be Self-Evident… Then ask them if these are part of being American, part of our Country, and part of our Government. I find that almost everyone I have asked says yes or, sarcastically, not anymore. The Declaration was not intended to be a vision statement but its ideals are part of the American cultural fabric. The irony that effectively none of those ideals are in the legal description of our government is poignant. The fact that our Rights can be removed, singly or in bulk, by the next Amendment is scary. The historical perspective on the Declaration notwithstanding, it has introduced expectations that were never intended to be met by the Constitution. Regardless of the historical reasons for that it is what we have today.