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Where They Wanted the Power to Reside

newell_convers_wyeth_drafting_the_declaration_of_independence--1776_d5508990hToday we celebrate the 238th anniversary of America’s independence from the British Crown, and the beginning of our great nation. On July 4th, 1776, delegates to the Continental Congress, assembled in Philadelphia, adopted the Declaration of Independence to announce our intentions to the world.

The signers of our nation’s birth certificate appealed to “nature and nature’s God” for the authority to overthrow the tyranny of a British monarchy that had trampled on the God-given rights of the American colonists. King George III and his allies in the Parliament levied taxes, stacked courts, and issued royal orders and decrees without the consent of the governed in the colonies. As such, a tyranny was leveled against the once-free people of the American colonies, and our forefathers were not willing to allow the British monarch to subvert the rights they rightly believed came from their Creator.

As a result, in the words of the Declaration that we celebrate today they decided to “throw off such government and provide new guards for their future security.”

Over the past 238 years, America has remained a work in progress. We have continually striven, in the words of the preamble to our Constitution, to form “a more perfect union,” based on the rule of law and representative democracy. The combination of the rule of law and representative democracy forms the form of government known as a republic.

In a true constitutional republic, the power resides within the people, who, in turn, loan their sovereign power to the government for the express and sole purpose of defending their God-given rights and freedoms. In such a republic, laws are to be passed that are in keeping with the rule of law (meaning that they are constitutional), with the consent of the governed through their representatives in Congress. The Constitution gives all legislative power to the Congress in Article I, precisely to prevent an overreaching president from assuming the power of both executive and legislator. In fact, James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” believed that the concentration of the legislative and the executive functions was the “very definition of tyranny.”

That’s why, as we observe this 238th anniversary of America’s independence, we should be particularly mindful of the growing power of the institution of the presidency, and the increasingly diminished role of Congress in the creation of our laws. If the separation of powers and limited government are not soon restored to Washington, then the very values that this country was founded to protect will be undermined.

Our founding fathers greatly feared the concentration of political and government power in the hands of a few, for they saw such a concentration as the surest corrosion of human freedom. We would do well to remember their worries and their warnings, and work to restore respect for the Constitution at all levels of government.

Enjoy this Independence Day, thank God for your freedoms, and never forget to fight for our nation’s founding values. In the immortal words of Benjamin Franklin, we have “a republic, if we can keep it.”

God Bless America & Happy Independence Day!

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