Of The People

(SCENE:  Mitch BERG is sitting on a chair at a book store, trying to figure out which Reagan biography to buy.  Moonbeam BIRKENSTOCK, a twenty-something graduate of Saint Olaf, and of Camp Wellstone, sits at the next chair.  She gradually notes BERG’s haul of books).  

BIRKENSTOCK:  You should have no right to read that garbage.

BERG:   Huh.  Well, fortunately, “rights” aren’t granted or denied by “the People”.

BIRKENSTOCK:   Yes they are.

BERG:   Um, what?

BIRKENSTOCK:   Read the Constitution.  It says “We the people”.  Rights come from The People.

BERG:   Er, the founding fathers understood rights to come from The Creator.

BIRKENSTOCK:  Hah!  You mean religion?  That’s what the founding fathers were fighting against.  That’s why we have the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, not the Archbishop of Canterbury, administer the Oath of Office.

BERG:  That’s completely irrelevant.

BIRKENSTOCK:   Of course it is.  Our Constitution gives us freedom from religion.

BERG:  That’s the French constitution. Not ours.

BIRKENSTOCK.  John Hancock was a lawyer, not a minister!

BERG:   Also irrelevant.  The “creator” who endows our rights might be God, Allah, biology or random coincidence; it doesn’t establish a state view of what Our Creator is.

BIRKENSTOCK:  It doesn’t matter!  Read the Constitution!  It starts with “We The People”.   Rights come from people!

BERG:    That’s exactly what the founding fathers fought against – the idea that rights come from people, rather than from being born a human being.

BIRKENSTOCK:  So where does it say that in the Constitution?

BERG:   It doesn’t.  The idea that Freedom and Liberty are “inalienable” human rights – that humans are born with, not granted by government – comes from the Declaration of Independence and the Federalist Papers and the other writings that set up the intellectual framework for the Constitution.  “We the People” were forming a goverment to, as the Preamble to the Constitution continues to say, “secure” the blessings of Liberty.  In other words, the freedoms are ours because we’re born human.  Our government’s job is to protect those liberties.  And ideally no more.

BIRKENSTOCK:  Yeah, but the Constitution said nothing about slavery!  They were hypocrites!

BERG:  Well, no – it was a huge argument in 1789, and it stayed a huge argument until 1865.

BIRKENSTOCK:  Slavery was ended by the 13th Amendment.  Who enacted that Amendment?  The People!

BERG:   Was slavery right before The People enacted the 13th Amendment?

BIRKENSTOCK:  Of course not.

BERG:   Why?

BIRKENSTOCK:  The People said so?

BERG:   How about before The People said so?

Let’s try an experiment, here.  Let’s say that 51% of the people agree that the First Amendment is wrong, and there is no right to speak freely, and government has the right to censor speech.  Is that right?


BERG:   Why?  If rights come “from The People”, then “The People” can take them away.

BIRKENSTOCK:  But the founding fathers were wrong about slavery!

BERG:   That supports my point, not yours.  The Founding Fathers realized how very imperfect humans were.  Slavery would be a key example of this.  It took fourscore and seven years, and the bloodiest war in US history to fix the mistake.  Now – if rights come “from The People”, all it would take would be a repeal of the 13th Amendment to make slavery legal.

And the fact is government could make all these rights illegal – but that would be illegitimate, and make the government illegitimate.

BIRKENSTOCK:  So what about countries that don’t recognize rights like trial by jury?

BERG:   They have their own constitutions.  They are, however, wrong.  The idea that other countries are wrong about human rights is one of the reasons we had a Revolution, and started a country based on the ideal that human rights precede and are superior to government power.

BIRKENSTOCK:   Pfft.  Where does the Constitution say anything about how to run a just society?

BERG:   It doesn’t.  It enumerates the powers government has, the powers reserved to the states, and reserves all others to The People.  Or at least that’s what the Tenth Amendment said, before it got gutted.

BIRKENSTOCK:  Hah!  So rights do get abridged by The People.

BERG:   Yep.  And just like slavery, it’s illegitimate.

BIRKENSTOCK:  You’re a Tenther!

BERG:   Damn straight.  Anyway – if you believe that rights come from government, or even The People, then there is logically nothing that says we can’t revoke free speech, religion, press, assembly, the right to keep and bear arms, the freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, due process in criminal cases, and the whole shebang with a 51% vote.

BIRKENSTOCK:   Sure there is!

BERG:   What?

BIRKENSTOCK:  People want to be freeeeeeee!

(BIRKENSTOCK gets up, and dances away up the aisle)

BERG:   Wow.

BIRKENSTOCK:  (Yelling in the distance) Why do you hate womyn?


(Note – for those of you who think I try to make my antagonists in these little dramatizations sound “off”?  This conversations is a virtual word-for-word recreation of a conversation I had on Twitter with a DFL operative.  There are liberals who actually believe this).

8 thoughts on “Of The People

  1. in commie-speak “we the people” refers to a self-selecting cohort that knows better than you how you should live your life – just ask rick_dfl or DG, they both have big plans for you.

    on a related note, the unrepentant commie Pete Seeger finally dropped off the twig, albeit 60 years too late.

  2. Mitch:

    I think you missed a very important point with this liberal. “We the people” was put into the constitution because the government got it’s power from the people! We created the government in part because we needed a national defense, one set of rules so we conduct commerce from lets say Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota even though they didn’t exist in 1787.

    It wasn’t created for 70 million people out of 300 million people because they could in one election get the votes to say that the government will run the health care system even though millions don’t want it run by the government.

    I can go on, but you get the idea of the point that was missed.

    Walter Hanson
    Minneapolis, MN

  3. Walter – true, but the argument wasn’t about “where does our government come from” – it was “where do rights come from”.

    The liberal I was discussing this with mixes the two up.

  4. Mitch:

    Part of my point is that the liberal seems to think that the government will assign us our rights (aka say health care is a right), but how can the government assign us our rights when the people are assigning the government it’s power and throwing away possible rights when they give the government power.

    Walter Hanson
    Minneapolis, MN

  5. kel, the fact that they want to tell you how to live your life is the means, not the end. The end is to spend the wealth that you, a worker, produce. The idea that you would actually own the product of your labor gives them fits. They want to spend that money. It’s the same-ol, same-old that’s been going on from time immemorial. There is nothing ‘progressive’ about it.

  6. A lot of commies left the party in the late 30s as a result of the Hitler-Stalin pact and the show trials.
    The trial and execution of Bukharin is instructive (d. 1938).
    Bukharin wasn’t chosen by accident. He was an old pal of Stalin’s from before the October Revolution. He was just as bloodthirsty as Stalin, but he had this belief that the workers could judge the state. Stalin didn’t like that. Bukharin was unwilling to repudiate that belief, so Stalin had him killed.
    Seeger’s motivation for supporting the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s was the same as his motivation for singing anti-war songs from 1938-1941. His commie bosses in Moscow told him to. If they had told him to sing songs promoting segregation in the 50s and 60s, he would have been happy to do that.

  7. If they had told him to sing songs promoting segregation in the 50s and 60s, he would have been happy to do that.

    If asked, I’m sure he could have worked in a stanza praising Bull Connor into “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.”

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