“A Government of laws and not of men”
Growing up in the United States I remember hearing this phrase “time after time”. I don’t recall ever:
– thinking about it
– asking about
I just accepted it. Surely (like all great ideas) it must have been invented in the United States and it has been attributed to John Adams.
JOHN ADAMS, “Novanglus Papers,” no. 7.—The Works of John Adams, ed. Charles Francis Adams, vol. 4, p. 106 (1851).
Adams published articles in 1774 in the Boston, Massachusetts, Gazette using the pseudonym “Novanglus.” In this paper he credited James Harrington with expressing the idea this way. Harrington described government as “the empire of laws and not of men” in his 1656 work, The Commonwealth of Oceana, p. 35 (1771). The phrase gained wider currency when Adams used it in the Massachusetts Constitution, Bill of Rights, article 30 (1780).—Works, vol. 4, p. 230.
I guess I never thought about it because at that time, there was no need to. The US government looked like a democracy, behaved like a democracy …
I am thinking about it today because it looks as though we do NOT have a government of laws. We DO HAVE a government of men!
In the context of a democracy – “A Government of Laws” – presumably means:
1. People have the right to participate in the making of laws through their elected representatives – in other words the laws should represent the will of the people (Remember former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown talking about the “People’s Seat“);
2. No person should be above the law.
It is very clear that the US has transformed itself to a:
“Government of men and not laws”
Elected representatives no longer represent the will of the people and the laws are NOT respected or applied equally. A few interesting tweets from the last 24 hours:
On The Issue of Government Representing the People:
Solution: Get the political parties out of the Democratic process. The Republican and Democratic parties are private clubs which exist at public expense!
On The Issue of Government Respecting The Laws:
Oh my God! The Obama administration doesn’t believe it is bound by the Constitution.
The people of the United States have clearly lost control of their government and need to reign it in. See the following:
The people of the United States are fundamentally good people
It’s that they have lost control of their democracy. They have lost control of their country. The are losing their freedom.
It’s not just U.S. citizens abroad who are being abused. It’s all U.S. citizens who are being abused
The solution is two-fold:
First, U.S. citizens need candidates who are NOT members of one of two private clubs (Gangs as Jesse Ventura would call them). They need to find competent Independent Candidates to run.
Second, in order to reclaim their democracy, they must get out and vote.
And for those of you who are cynics and believe this cannot be done, a fourth tweet: