MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

How We Got a National-Security Police State, Part 1 – The Future of Freedom Foundation

Posted by M. C. on December 24, 2022

Within the Bill of Rights was a fascinating grouping of four amendments: the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments. Our ancestors believed that at some point, federal officials would want to kill people, incarcerate them, or take away their property. Thus, those four amendments address what must happen before those things can occur.

https://www.fff.org/explore-freedom/article/how-we-got-a-national-security-police-state-part-1/

by Jacob G. Hornberger

The biggest mistake America has ever made since the inception of our country was the conversion of the federal government from a limited-government republic to a national-security state. It is the reason that all of us have been born and raised under what can only be called a national-security police state.

Throughout history, governments have been vested with inherent powers to do what officials felt was in the best interests of the people. Our American ancestors rejected that concept insofar as the federal government was concerned. The Constitution created one of the most unusual governmental structures ever — one in which the federal government would not have the traditional powers that were inherent to government. Instead, the federal government’s powers were limited to those few powers that were enumerated in the Constitution. If a power wasn’t listed, it simply could not be exercised.

This radically different governmental structure shocked the world. People couldn’t believe that a citizenry of a country was actually dictating to their government what it could and couldn’t do. Everyone was accustomed to the opposite — where government dictates to the citizenry what they can and cannot do.

A limited-government republic

A limited-government republic is what Americans wanted. They didn’t trust the federal government. Unlike so many Americans today, our American ancestors never believed that the biggest threat to their freedom and well-being lay with foreign regimes or foreign groups. Instead, Americans were convinced that the greatest threat to their freedom and well-being lay with their very own federal government. That’s why they wanted it to have so few powers — so that it would lack the ability to do bad things to them.

Thus, for more than a century, the United States had only a small, basic military force — one that was sufficiently large to protect settlers from attacks by Native Americans and to serve as a mobilizing force in the event the United States was ever invaded. Our American ancestors fiercely opposed a large, permanent military-intelligence establishment — what they called “standing armies” — because they believed that a standing army would ultimately destroy their freedom and their well-being. They instead believed in the concept of “citizen soldiers” — well-armed and self-trained citizens who would be willing to come to the defense of their country if it were ever invaded by a foreign power.

Prior to the Constitutional Convention, Americans had been operating under the Articles of Confederation, under which the federal government’s powers were so few and weak that it didn’t even have the power to tax. Imagine: for more than a decade, the federal government operated without the ability to forcibly extract money from people.

The purpose of the Constitutional Convention was simply to modify the Articles of Confederation. Thus, imagine the surprise of our ancestors when they learned that the Convention came out instead with a proposal for a different governmental structure — a limited-government republic — one that gave the federal government more power, including the power to tax.

Needless to say, Americans were extremely leery. But they finally decided to go along with the deal under the assurance that the federal government’s powers were to be limited to those few powers enumerated in the Constitution.

The Bill of Rights

But there was one condition that Americans imposed in return for accepting the new Constitution. They demanded the enactment of a Bill of Rights immediately after ratification of the Constitution. The Bill of Rights reflected the conviction of the American people that the federal government was an enormous threat to their freedom and well-being. With the Bill of Rights, Americans wanted to drive the point home — that federal officials were absolutely prohibited from infringing on people’s fundamental, natural, God-given rights.

The Bill of Rights should actually have been called the Bill of Prohibitions. That’s because it doesn’t give people rights at all. As the Declaration of Independence observes, people’s rights preexist government. It is the duty of government to protect, not destroy, such rights.

Thus, the First and Second Amendments protected from federal assault such rights as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, and the right to keep and bear arms. The Ninth Amendment made it clear that people have more rights than those enumerated in the Bill of Rights.

An unusual society

Because its powers were so few, throughout the 19th century the federal government didn’t have much to do. The result was the most unusual society in history. Imagine:

See the rest here

Be seeing you

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