The Colonel #71 Necessary Evil
“Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.”
How is it that evil, in a supposedly moral society, becomes a necessity? And why is it that people are willing to consent to its being so? James Madison argued for necessity on the grounds that men are not angels, that, both on a personal and an international scale, misbehave, and in the course of their misadventures do harm to their neighbors. Thus, there must be a force guarding the citizenry.
As the essence of government is force, the people in adopting a government, thereby consent to the use of force and the terms of its use to carry out the contract they have made with that government.
A just, republican (little “r”) government can only exist by taking its powers from the consent of the governed—otherwise, it is something other than just, and equally something other than a republic.
What have the American people consented to their contract with the government? This is not as some would have us believe, an organic idea that grows upon technology and social whims for it has nothing to do directly with either. It is a contract, written, agreed to, a signed by the representatives of the people. We call it the Constitution.
Its purposes for governmental function are physically enumerated and spiritually explained in the founding documents. They are:
1. To form a more perfect union.
2. Establish justice.
3. Insure domestic tranquility.
4. Provide for the common defense.
5. Promote the general welfare.
6. To secure the blessings of Liberty.
None of these is meant to be exercised at the expense of the others, and none interpreted so as to deprive citizens of life, liberty, and the pursuit of their own happiness—the elements of which Madison defined as their rightful property.
A standing army is in and of itself, a real threat to domestic tranquility, the general welfare, and the security of liberty. However, it is necessary a necessary evil in providing for the common defense against enemies foreign and domestic. Therefore, since the creation of our government, we have had such an army and until we donned the mantle of the world’s policeman, it was purposely kept small.
Some of my dear friends suppose that they will use their right to bear arms to protect themselves from a tyrannical government. What most have failed to consider is that a government numb to their rights will use that standing army to deprive them of life, liberty, and happiness. Facing an army marching under orders from its commander-in-chief is not the same thing as protecting one’s property from a band of looters—not even close.
If you cannot imagine that ever happening, then can you say that twenty years ago you imagined the government forcing citizens out of a declared essential job for declining to be experimented on for the profit of three drug companies?
Yet here we are.
To borrow from my counterpart the Crusader, all the intents of our Constitution can be summed up in a word, namely, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Now, that particular reference may be drawn from a Christian source, but it is not an exclusively Christian idea.
In fact, it predates Christianity by many years and comes from a culture to whom a divine voice warned of the evils of human government.
The Constitution as the guiding rule and spirit of government in this country has been consistently eroded since the dawn of the 20th—yes, I mean 20th—century. Here a little, there a little, like boiling a frog, our liberty is vanishing. We are staring at its death while contributing to its demise.
Sic semper tyrannis.