Jefferson conceded the Declaration of Independence did not state any new ideas but those that had long circulated amongst English and Colonial thinkers.
One critical idea was that all power resided in the people, and the people had rights that preceded government. Government was given certain limited powers by the people, while the people retained all their rights, and government had a duty to preserve and protect those rights while remaining within the limits of power granted. If government were derelict in that duty, the power and the rights returned to the people who were empowered to “alter or abolish” the government and establish a new one better able to protect their rights and less able to abuse its powers.
Jefferson and other liberty thinkers of the American colonies were familiar with the writing of the “great republican martyr” Algernon Sidney who in his “Discourse Concerning Government” had said:
“all human constitutions are subject to corruption, and must perish, unless they are timely renewed and reduced to their first principles,” and that “Good governments admit of changes in the Superstructures, whilst the Foundations remain unchangeable.”
Ninety years after Sydney, another republican writer who influenced Jefferson and others of the time, James Burgh, wrote:
“All lawful authority, legislative and executive, originates from the people. Power in the people is like the light in the sun, native, original, inherent, and unlimited by anything human. In governors (those given power in government), 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, whose it is and to whom governors are to consider themselves responsible, while the people are answerable only to God… And happy is that people, who having originally so principled their constitution, that they themselves can without violence to it, lay hold of its power, wield it as they please, and turn it, when necessary, against those to whom it was entrusted, and who have exerted it to the prejudice of its original proprietors (the people).”
And so, Jefferson stood on the shoulders of giants. Because the American Constitution was built upon the Declaration of Independence, reason compels the conclusion, that if government becomes destructive of the rights of the people, the people can form in convention and redress and reform the destruction. Burgh predicted such a result may follow from the tendency of constitutions to be corrupted by long exercise of power by those entrusted with power by the people, because humans have a foot of clay, and will use power for self-interest:
“in planning a government by representation, the people ought to provide against their own annihilation. They ought to establish a regular and constitutional method of acting by and from themselves, without, or even in opposition to, their representatives if necessary.”
Knowing elected representatives could be carried away by power and use it against the “natural, inalienable rights” of the people, Jefferson himself wrote a Constitution for the State of Virginia, enabling the people to call conventions to restore the bounds of legitimate governance should those elected default and usurp power to the detriment of the people.
The Declaration of Independence proclaims this power resides in the people despite opposition by their government. It is in fact when government has gone so far in its abuses that its corruption purports to deny such power to the people that such power is precisely at its most necessary and its exercise most proper.
It appears America is approaching that juncture, the clash between government unmoored from the anchor of the Constitution and its invasion of the inalienable rights of the people.
The recent reduction of more than one-half of the American people to a form of enslavement known to Black female slaves before the Civil War, forced reproduction, has returned. A surprising upswelling of American revolutionary spirits has erupted across the nation in revulsion at this restoration of slavery, especially repugnant as it emerged from the Supreme Court which, with its life tenure, is supposed to act as a bulwark, a check and balance, against the invasions of the legislative and executive branches more amenable to political considerations of the moment.
Although it is impossible to list the entire tsunami of invasions of the rights of the people occurring almost daily, just the last several days have seen these emerge: in addition to overturning Roe v Wade, immunity from civil rights lawsuits for all federal agents, and including local police who have been “federalized,” continued evisceration of the right against double jeopardy.
This follows prior invasions such as passing laws subjecting the people to all manner of invasive searches and surveillance, censoring our speech and stifling our expression, declaring Americans anti-government extremists for daring to disagree with its dictates, incarcerating persons for criticizing government policies on social or other media, and encouraging Americans to spy and snitch on their fellow citizens, and allowing government agents to grope, strip, search, taser, shoot and kill people with impunity in violation of the supreme law applicable to all.
More egregious, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which supposedly exists solely to preserve the lives and liberty of the people in America, has declared much of America itself a “Constitution Free Zone” anywhere within 100 miles of an ocean, great lake or other border, thus transforming much of the nation where most the population resides unprotected by the “supreme law” every agent of the DHS has sworn to uphold.
The plain hypocrisy of swearing an oath to the Constitution while simultaneously declaring it inapplicable to most Americans gives rise to serious questions as to the legitimacy and fidelity to the rule of law of such DHS agents, and their governmental enablers. Does it not follow from the bald and duplicitous erection of “Constitution Free Zones,” that government appears to be at war with the people and their fundamental rights?
But the most threatening invasion of all involves the peoples’ needs to “provide against their own annihilation.” The Constitution, being human, has been subject to corruption, but none so deadly to the right to life as the delegation, unlawful and immoral, from the Congress to the President. That delegation includes the horrific power to unilaterally launch nuclear war, devoid of all checks and balances.
The exercise of that power, by a president tantrumming and demanding the nuclear football rather than tossing a plate of food against a White House wall, actually would result in the peoples’ annihilation.
The delegation of the war power is effectively the victory of George III (and all his predecessor Kings, Emperors, Czars and Caesars) over the principles of the Declaration of Independence, it transforms the servant of the people and the law, the President, into a monstrous tyrant exceeding any in history, which can only be properly identified as the Nuclear Dictator.
A moral people, confronted with such a satanic result, are called upon to reflect: has our constitution been so degraded, so deformed, so contrary to our lives and liberty, that we must alter or abolish it or default on our duty to our progeny to pass on to them “the blessings of liberty?”
So, like the sun, the power of light, of liberty, of life, redounds to the people. The day is come to honestly admit, our Constitution, like all before it, has succumbed to corruption and no longer exists in any honest fidelity to its first principles: rather it threatens the annihilation of the people themselves.
The Declaration of Independence was intended as a Universal Declaration of Inalienable Human Rights, encompassing all the people of the world, and as the degeneration into Nuclear Dictatorship threatens all humankind, it is clearly the duty of humanity to join the movement to declare a new dawn, from the original light, the sun of the peoples’ power.
A Peoples’ Convention to restore their power, their inalienable rights and renounce and repudiate the corruption of self-interest, the unequal application of law, and the efforts to reimpose a state of enslavement upon many by the few, is necessary and must be shortly convened.
It is folly to expect those currently using power for their selfish benefit to relinquish their power having so long abused it for self-interested ends. Elections have failed to curb this trend.
Some, so frustrated by grievances long endured, resorted to mistaken violent insurrection on January 6, 2021. Such violence is anathema to self-governing people and smacks of the despotic, as we have the peaceable and lawful power to reform the Constitution.
Too long have We the People lived in the reflected light of the moon. We owe to our children a new sunrise illuminated by the power and the rights of the People. Power to the People: convene a Peoples’ Constitutional Convention to remedy the extant defects consistent with the true meaning of July 4.