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GOVERNED BY RULES, NOT MEN
 by Dr. Walter Williams, Professor of Economics at George Mason University
  Having been deserted by her husband, my mother worked.  That meant that my one-year-younger sister and I often lunched by ourselves during our pre-teen years. Being bigger and stronger than my sister, quite often there wouldn't be a fair division of the food, especially the desserts.
  Coming home from work, Mom would be greeted by sob stories about my lunchtime injustices.  There came a time when Mom got fed up with the sibling hassles - but she didn't admonish us to be more caring, fair, sensitive and considerate of one another.  She just made a new rule: Whoever cuts the cake (pie, bread, meat, etc.) gives the other person the first selection.  With that new rule in place, you can bet that when either my sister or I cut any food that was to be divided between us, the portions probably didn't differ by one microgram.
  You say, "That's a nice story, Williams, but what's the point?"  The point is that the principle underlying Mom's rule is precisely the kind of rules necessary to promote a civilized society.  In general, the kinds of rules that we want are those that promote justice, whether it's our best friend or our worst enemy who happens to be the decision-maker.  In the case of Mom's rule, it didn't make any difference whether I hated my sister's guts that day, or she hated mine, or whether my sister was doing the cutting, or whether I was - the cake-cutting outcome was just.
  This year, billions of dollars and billions of hours will be spent campaigning for this or that candidate in our national elections. Can we argue that the nation's welfare is served best by picking the "right" person?  I think not.  The nation's welfare is served best by focusing not on political personalities, but on neutral rules of the game and their even application and enforcement.
  Think for a moment about sports - say, basketball.  Teams play one another.  One team loses and the other wins, but they and their fans leave the stadium peacefully and most often as friends.  Why?  The game's outcome is seen as fair because there are fixed, known, neutral rules evenly applied by the referees.  The referee's job is to apply the rules - not determine the game's outcome.  Imagine the chaos on the court and among the fans if one team had its paid referees to help it win, while its opponent had theirs.
  In the political arena, the Framers gave us reasonably fair and neutral rules of the game, otherwise known as the United States Constitution.  If our government acted, as the Framers intended, as a referee and night watchman, how much difference would it make to any of us who occupied the White House or Congress?  It would make little, if any.  It would be just like our basketball game example.  Any government official who knew and enforced the rules would do.  But increasingly, who's in office is making a difference, since government has abandoned its referee and night-watchman function and gotten into the business of determining winners and losers.
  In many places around the world, the prospect of, or the result of, national elections leads to all manner of violence and mayhem.  Why? Because the political arena plays a much larger role than ours in determining winners and losers, and in some cases who wins can literally mean life or death.  We need only to look at the history of countries in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.  Where governments decide winners and losers, the most effective coalitions are those based on race, religion, region and ethnicity - the bloodiest coalitions in mankind's history.
  So which is it: Do we want government as referee and night watchman, or as the decider of winners and losers?   No, Mike. A burglar in your house has no rights to anything. Please consider the fact that in denying anyone the right to keep and bear arms means only to deny him sovereignty. It does not imply denying him his natural instinct for self-preservation.  Denying the American citizen his personal sovereignty, granted him by Nature's God, is the very reason why the Second Amendment is under attack. Government is not attacking your right for self-preservation; it is attacking your sovereignty.   Let me begin by simply offering some quotes and observations to you for your consideration. They will help us to understand the truly unique status the American citizen was designed to possess, courtesy of our Constitution.
  George Washington when asked, if he would accept the kingship replied: "No, we are all going to become kings!"
  A brief reflection on the abolitionists' argument they brought to insist that slavery was not Constitutional should also help us to bring into focus the true significance of the Second Amendment. Please note that in their argument they, the abolitionists, went straight to the heart of the matter. Beginning with the Declaration of Independence's assertion that all men are created equal, they argued that if that be so, then the black man had a right to keep and bear arms and since the keeping and bearing of arms is palpably inconsistent with slavery, slavery was demonstrated to be unconstitutional.
  And now, if I may, I would like you to reflect on some of de Tocqueville's observations he made, when he toured this country in the 1830s. You can find them in the fourth chapter of his first book: "The Republic Of The United States Of America, And Its Political Institutions, Reviewed And Examined", since then retitled, "The American Democracy". When you do, keep in mind de Tocqueville was a European and, therefore, not able to see the origin of sovereignty, all he was able to see was its effects. Here then are a few of his scintillating remarks. (Portions in italics and those in bold are my efforts by which I seek to call special attention to de Tocqueville's remarks.)
  "In America, the principle of the sovereignty of the people is not either barren or concealed, as it is with some other nations; it is recognized by the customs and proclaimed by the laws; it spreads freely, and arrives without impediment at its most remote consequences. If there be a country in the world where the doctrine of the sovereignty of the people can be fairly appreciated, where it can be studied in its application to the affairs of society, and where its dangers and its advantages may be foreseen, that country is assuredly America...
"The American Revolution broke out, and the doctrine of the sovereignty of the people, which had been nurtured in the townships, took possession of the state: every class was enlisted in its cause; battles were fought, and victories obtained for it; until it became the law of laws...
  "At the present day (1836) the principle of the sovereignty of the people has acquired, in the United States, all the practical development which the imagination can conceive. It is unencumbered by those fictions, which have been thrown over it in other countries, and it appears in every possible form according to the exigency of the occasion. Sometimes the laws are made by the people in a body, as in Athens; and sometimes its representatives, chosen by universal suffrage, transact business in its name, and almost under its immediate control...and last, but not least,
  "In some countries a power exists which, though it is in a degree foreign to the social body, directs it, and forces it to pursue a certain track. In others the ruling force is divided, being partly within and partly without the ranks of the people. But nothing of the kind is to be seen in the United States; there society governs itself for itself. All power centers in its bosom; and scarcely an individual is to be met with who would venture to conceive, or, still more, to express, the idea of seeking it elsewhere. The nation participates in the making of its laws by the choice of its legislatures, and in the execution of them by the choice of the agents of the executive government; it may almost be said to govern itself, so feeble and so restricted is the share left to the administration, so little do the authorities forget their popular origin and the power from which they emanate...²
   In considering these, please keep in mind that in the newly established Republic the notion of sovereignty was a given, it was understood, it was the very reason why the Colonists were angry for being taxed without representation: YOU JUST DO NOT TAX THE KING, ESPECIALLY NOT WITHOUT HIS PERMISSION! And it is the reason why you will not find the word sovereign or any of its cognates mentioned in the Constitution, it forms the very basis on which the Second Amendment rests.
   Please do not lose sight of the fact, irrespective of what your personal view of God may be, that the Second Amendment's author was perceived to be Christ the Redeemer. It was He Who made His sovereignty efficacious to the American citizen only. He extended the same offer to all human beings, but only the American citizen cosigned His contract. It is a contract, but only because it carries the signature of both parties: God and man. In other words, in America, and in America only, is the keeping and bearing of arms a natural condition. Birds fly, fishes swim, fire burns, water makes wet, and Americans keep and bear arms. Thus any discussion, any dispute concerning the Second was removed from human participation and in this manner the American citizen, and only the citizen, since it was he who had put his signature to the contract, was thus affirmed to be sovereign. That was the Second Amendment's primary purpose and cannot be imposed upon a non-citizen. If you can see the logic here, then you should be able to realize that in countries like Switzerland, where arms possession is by governmental edict, the citizen is not sovereign. Nor is he sovereign in places like Iraq or Palestine, where gun possession at the moment exceeds ours.
   The right to self-preservation, as you pointed out, is a human rights issue and is of course common to all members of the human race, including the criminal, but that has nothing to do with sovereignty. Sovereignty, theirs and theirs only, was the reason why the Founding Fathers fought for independence, only for theirs not for that of any other nation. All they ever hoped was that other nations would follow their example. What sense would it have made to fight a bloody eight-years war just to assert what nature assures anyway? No, personal sovereignty as well as national sovereignty, which assures personal sovereignty, was the purpose for their struggle.
   So then self-preservation is not at issue. That is the very reason why the notion of self-defense is not under attack. It is the Second Amendment which is being attacked. And the reason for that should now be patently obvious. In no form of government can you have two sovereigns. In the American Republic sovereignty was imposed on the citizen by Nature's God, and thus did not lead to strive, but in a democracy, where government, contrary to the natural order of things, is master, conflict is unavoidable, because any government in the role of master must fear an armed citizenry. That is the very reason why wherever our troops go to import democracy first order of business is to disarm the people. This then explains why the Second Amendment is constantly assailed and has been assailed since the early sixties in preparation for the burial of the Great Republic and her replacement on Tuesday, October 22nd, 1968, the day the Fat Lady sang, with our current form of government, the American democracy.
   Nothing of what I said before requires amending and I, therefore, insist again that you cannot grant the right to keep and bear arms to a non-citizen, especially not to an illegal alien. If you did, you would extend sovereignty over our government to someone who has no vested interest in our Nation's survival. An illegal alien is like a burglar in your home, he has absolutely no rights there, not even a legitimate right to self-preservation.
   The legal alien on the other hand is admittedly a somewhat different matter. He has shown his willingness to become a citizen of this great nation and a temporary exception can be made in his case and that would also include the legal visitor. However, only citizenship would remove the temporary, governmentally granted restrictions and then make him an automatic beneficiary of the Second Amendment, because it is here when he puts his signature on the contract.
   Criminals and illegals are not citizens and, therefore, cannot be made co-sovereigns. If an illegal alien wishes to become sovereign, he has two choices: either come here legally and become a citizen or begin a fight for sovereignty in his own country. Please give these matters some thought.  A young lady, a pre-nurse, somewhere between 18 and 20 years of age, put all my essentials on paper and then suddenly noted that I was born on April Fools day. While many think that that is correct, it is, however, not. April 30th is my birthday. Having corrected her, I asked her if she knew what had happened on April 30, 1789. She did not of course. But she did know that George Washington was the Nation's first president. She did not know that America was established to be a Republic, did not know the difference between the Great Republic and the American democracy, and worst, she thought Lincoln was the Nation's second president.  She knows now.  During my talking with her the doctor entered the room, showed interest and for the next 45 minutes, lying on my right side, while the doctor excavated a deep hole into my left shoulder, he and the young lady, became familiar with the madness of democracy, the splendor of the Great Republic, and the euphoria of sovereignty as derived from the Second Amendment. Both, especially the girl, thought it was a wonderful idea to be the master of one's government.  I thought I should share this little interlude with you just to demonstrate how any situation can be exploited to count maggots and, after having counted a few, to explain how a road kill can be resuscitated, how maggots can be made to go away, and who, how, and why imported them.  I cannot think of anyone who could not create a moment out of any given situation in which to inform his neighbor of what had happened here over two and a quarter centuries ago.
Thursday, February 19, 2004
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