Golden Apple; Silver Frame

“The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.”

Alexander Hamilton (circa 1755-1804)

“…when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government….”

From the preamble to “The Declaration of Independence

The US Constitution is much more important, and in much greater danger than most people realize. I will discuss both issues in this article, and I hope that those who are unfamiliar with our founding documents, or who may feel a bit rusty in their knowledge, will take a few minutes and familiarize/re-familiarize themselves with them.

I aim to make this experience as helpful, short and pain-free as possible, so I will limit myself to what I consider to be the most important elements in the Constitution.

(Sidebar: I have timed the release of this article to coincide with the final week of the free online Hillsdale College course on the US Constitution. Kudos to those of you who took it – around 200,000. That number should be at least 2,000,000 though – two million informed “seed” patriots to go out and spread the word. As I understand it, the entire course will remain online and accessible to anyone who wishes to take it, so there is really no excuse not to. It is designed to be a ten week course, but you can of course spread that out as best fits your schedule. Each week has a lecture which is presented on video, so you can watch it in five minute segments, or whatever floats your boat. Thank you Hillsdale College – I salute your patriotic efforts).

In the interest of keeping things “short and sweet” I will cut to the chase and tell you that some people believe, and I am one of them, that there is one short passage in our founding documents that encapsulates, enshrines, and defines what is so unique and important about the US Constitution, and the United States of America. Oddly enough it is not to be found in the Constitution at all – it is in “The Declaration of Independence.”

I am talking about the preamble to the Declaration – specifically the first sentence. You cannot get much simpler than that – boiling things down to one sentence. Yet there it is – the heart and soul of the American experience. Without that one sentence the US Constitution loses most, if not all of its moral authority, and the United States becomes a shadow of itself.

Using a biblical reference, Abraham Lincoln compared it to “a golden apple” that the US Constitution was made to preserve and protect, like a silver picture or frame. “The picture was made for the apple–not the apple for the picture,” he said. That is, it was Lincoln’s opinion that the US Constitution’s purpose was to preserve and protect the principles outlined in the first sentence of the Declaration’s preamble. (“”A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 28:11).

Progressive icon, and 28th President of the United States Woodrow Wilson, detested that sentence, indeed the entire preamble to the Declaration – it is a given that any tyrant-in-waiting would. He wrote, “If you want to understand the real Declaration, do not repeat the preface [preamble].”

By taking out the Declaration’s preamble one is left with what is largely a list of forgotten grievances against a long-dead king. The “golden apple” is turned into a tin prune. It is the Declaration’s preamble that gives the Declaration (and Constitution) their life, vigor and meaning. It is the Declaration’s preamble, and especially its first sentence, that make both the Declaration and Constitution timeless and invaluable documents.

I bring up Wilson in order to point out that attacks on the US Constitution have been underway for quite some time, by powerful and influential people – some of whom have been in the highest levels of US government. Most of them have not been as open and up-front about their agenda as Wilson was.

I will have more to say about the Progressives in a bit, but first let us examine that sentence in the Declaration’s preamble. I am, of course, referring to “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 (some would say that property rights are included in “happiness”).

This is the sentence that was anathema to Woodrow Wilson and the Progressives. Why? Because it stands in the way of big government getting what it wants, when it wants it, and doing as it wills. It is a road-block to tyranny, and therefore must go.

In order for the first sentence of the preamble to go however, God must go, and certainly any reference to “unalienable,” or God-given, rights must go. Early Progressive pundit Frank Goodnow put it like this: “The rights which [the American citizen] possesses are…conferred upon him, not by his Creator, but rather by the society to which he belongs. What they are is to be determined by the legislative authority [government] in view of the needs of that society. Social expediency, rather than natural right, is thus to determine the sphere of individual freedom of action.”

Goodnow is saying that God does not have anything to do with it. There are no such things as “unalienable rights,” or natural law. Any rights that a person may have are conferred upon them by their government. What rights a government may deign to issue to a citizen depends on the “needs of that society.” The individual is always and forever secondary to, and subservient to, the government and the perceived needs of the collective.

Goodnow was not a member of some fringe element. His statement is very much in the main-stream of Progressive thinking, both at the start of Progressivism and today. Along with a distaste for the US Constitution (those pesky “checks and balances” and “Bill of Rights”) and the Declaration’s preamble, the Progressives had another plank in their platform that is relevant to this article’s topic — they felt that they had, well, progressed. They had progressed beyond the need for such things as the US Constitution.

They believed that they were representative of a sort of “new and improved” kind of humanity — that human nature was malleable and perfectible, and they were, by gosh, pretty darn near perfect themselves. Okay, the checks and balances may have served their purpose back in the day, but in modern times (i.e. late 19th and early 20th century) such regulatory guides were no longer needed – indeed they were a hindrance to progress.

Yes, well, obviously arrogance and hubris are nothing new to Progressives. It is worth noting that Progressives of the early 20th century (which included Republicans, such as Teddy Roosevelt, by the way) were quite up front about all of this at the time. They did not try to hide their ideology behind a cloak of pro-constitutionality – they were proud of their new, “scientific,” thinking. They were great fans of Darwin — and did not Darwin prove that we were evolving?

Well, actually no, Darwin proved nothing of the sort. Where is the paleontological record? If Darwin was right then there should be volumes, reams, libraries and museums chock full of incontrovertible proofs gleaned from the world’s fossil records, and yet except for a handful of dubious pieces of “evidence” the record is nonexistent – the cupboard is bare. I won’t bother discussing such icons of Darwinism as the “peppered moth” and the Galapagos finch, except to say that these vaunted examples of evolution are no such thing. They are merely examples of intra-species adaptation. I concur with Dr. Soren Lovtrup that “one day the Darwinian myth will be ranked the greatest deceit in the history of science.”

Darwinist theories have always held “most favored status” with the Progressive left. (No God, you see). Muddying up the waters is the fact that the Left, with that irritating trait they have of accusing those they disagree with of doing whatever they are doing, have been forever accusing conservatives of being social Darwinists. No matter that conservatives promote no such thing, the term was just too deliciously confusing to be resisted I suppose. I am not championing any alternative theory to Darwinism, but merely pointing out that after more than a century and-a-half to prove its case, the theory of Darwinian evolution has failed to hold water.

Possibly the Darwinists can find something useful to do, like swap carbon credits and lies with the AGW crowd (Anthropocentric Global Warming). Perhaps “useful” is not the word I’m looking for.

In any event, the Progressives, with their faith in Darwinian evolution and unbounded hubris, dismissed the US Constitution as outdated rubbish. Woodrow Wilson put it this way: “…the Constitution of the United States had been made under the dominion of the Newtonian Theory. …The trouble with the theory is that government is not a machine, but a living thing. It falls, not under the theory of the universe, but under the theory of organic life. It is accountable to Darwin, not to Newton.”

Government is “a living thing,” which means it needs a “living Constitution” (i.e. one that is plastic and malleable). The idea of a living Constitution is not a new idea but has been around for over a century. The idea has been promoted in our colleges and universities, and practiced as best they could by various politicians (including Presidents), and promoted by activist judges (perhaps most notoriously by Blackmun with his verdict in Roe v. Wade).

The idea of the sanctity of the US Constitution is not taken seriously anymore by most of the politicians and functionaries in Washington DC. The federal oath to “protect and defend” the constitution is treated as something of a tired joke – ha, ha. That is why Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg felt no qualms about recently telling the Egyptians that they would be better off if they ignored the US Constitution when drawing up their own. Look to the South African constitution she told them. That constitution allows its citizens certain rights designated by the government — à la Goodnow’s template. Way to go — that is some “protecting and defending” Ginsberg. Easy enough to see how she treats her oath.

It is well to keep in mind that Progressivism is not progressive at all. It is a retrogressive ideology that guarantees that “we the people” will return to being chattel under the boot-heel of a tyrannical government. That is not hyperbole, but simply the truth of it – and we are not just headed that way; we are there. The question is not whether “we the people” will steadily lose our liberty, but whether we can ever regain it again.

Although the anti-constitutional element in American politics may be said to have risen with the onset of Progressivism during the fin de siècle of the 19th/20th centuries, the movement truly got its start with the writings of the German, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770 — 1831) – an important influence on Karl Marx (1818 – 1883), among many others. That is all I am going to say about the rise of anti-constitutionalism in America, as the number of influences is well beyond the scope of this article.

Suffice it to say that the Progressives were joined over the years by others of like mind – i.e. those in favor of big government and sublimating individual rights to the needs of the collective: communists, fascists, statists, Marxists, socialists, and the like.

In general, America’s colleges and universities have long been held in thrall to these various anti-constitutional ideologies, which has resulted in an ever-increasing number of students entering into the various professions with little, if any, respect for the US Constitution.

Coinciding with this was the rise of atheism in our schools and culture. The atheist’s self-centeredness and benighted spiritual status might be drolly amusing were it not for the fact that they insist on militantly promoting their insidious soul-sickness wherever they go. The result has been that our schools have been churning out students who may be knowledgeable in certain areas, but are nonetheless spiritual imbeciles for the most part – naïve and dangerously ignorant.

This combination of lack of respect for God, and the US Constitution, has been snowballing for over a century, until today, although they may be given lip service by our politicians, both God and the Constitution are considered quaintly retardataire by many, if not most, in Washington DC.

That is a problem ladies and gentlemen, a serious problem. Having our country, which was founded on principles such as God-given rights and a limited federal government, being lead by politicians who largely believe in big government and, at best, a sort of crude agnosticism, is guaranteed not to end well. Add to the mix rampant corruption, the influence of global elitists, lobbyists, an entrenched DC political class, Wall Street, K Street, big business, big banks, and so on – and you have the recipe for a national disaster.
As I wrap up this article let me reiterate that I hope that those of you with an interest will avail yourselves of the Hillsdale College course on the Constitution. As it was not my intent, this article has not discussed any of the nuts and bolts of the Constitution, or the wisdom, genius, and practical experience that went into its design. The Hillsdale course does cover those subjects, and covers them well.
Dr. Kevin Portteus of Hillsdale College says he believes that the United States has not been this divided since right before the American Civil War. On the eve of the Civil War, referring to the Bible again, Abraham Lincoln noted that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” He further observed that “I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.” By which he meant either all slave states, or all free states.
In our time, I too believe that America will not stand as a house divided, and that we shall end up either all free, or all slave. We shall either live as slaves to a tyrannical government, or as free men and women. Those are our options.
The time for drawing a line in the sand and saying “This far and no farther” is over. There is no longer any sense in “holding what we’ve got,” because we don’t hold squat. Now is the time to advance – with purpose, passion and vision. Now is the time to reclaim our “unalienable rights,” or lose them forever.
“We the people” had best get off our butts and attend to business, or our “nation conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” will die, and the grand experiment of a free people governing themselves will end up in history’s ash-heap of “nice tries.” It is up to us – now — to ensure that “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Laus Deo.

(Please note: my book “Laus Deo: Selections From My Articles in Canada Free Press” is now available in both Kindle and paperback editions from Amazon.com – wake up your family, friends and neighbors. There is no time to lose in sounding the alarm – time is up).

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