Astronomers have recently discovered “Dark Energy”—by far the greatest force in the universe. It is driving an ever-increasing expansion of space. Except for galaxies closely bound by gravity, this endless growth will push everything in the universe farther and farther away. Some cosmologists fear it will even rip apart fundamental matter.[i]
There is a Dark Energy in government also—the almost unlimited desire on the part of presidents, legislators and bureaucrats for a never-ending expansion of governmental powers. It is always exhibited in the same way—some dire threat or need, or some tragic occurrence that no rational person would want repeated, is brought to the public’s attention followed by a demand that the government grant itself (through legislation or regulation) authority to solve that problem. The result, like the Dark Energy expanding the universe, is a never-ending expansion of claimed, but illegitimate, federal authority that drives us further and further away from our Constitutional foundation.
Our Constitution was created by “We the People of the United States.” It establishes a federal government embodying the principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence—that our Creator made us all equal and endowed each of us with the rights to life, liberty, and to pursue happiness. Most important: “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . . .” This most basic of principles—that governments are formed by, and derive their just powers from, those governed—is the bedrock of our political society. To restate this principle in another form, our government does not, and cannot, have any authority except what can be granted to it by the people. Political Dark Energy can never grant to politicians legitimate authority because our government can never claim power beyond that held by the People. If we are to stay close to the founding and essential principles of our country we must understand and acknowledge that no government can exercise more authority than all of us—made equal by our Creator—can grant it. No law should be passed, no regulation promulgated, no arrest made unless it is based upon the legitimate rights held by the people.
To understand the proper role of government most simply: it is a group of men and women hired by the rest of us to perform services we could perform ourselves: protecting our country, our families, our property, providing for our children’s education, etc.. This theory of government is in stark contrast to the model that was almost universal at the time of the Declaration of Independence and still remains common today. The opposing model is that of conquest and tyranny. It is the model used by Genghis Khan and William the Conqueror wherein an armed military invades, murders and robs. If the conquerors choose to remain, they establish a tyranny supported by military power. It has been the model for most governments in history. A modern variation is found in Marxism, where the proletariat are expected to revolt and impose the “Dictatorship of the Proletariat,”—always resulting in the slaughter of millions.[ii] In tyrannies the model is that a ruler or ruling group have some inherent ability to impose their will on others and that government somehow has powers beyond those possessed by, and therefore derived from, the People.
Our Constitution contains a short list of powers granted to the federal government. All powers not specifically listed are “reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The framers of the Constitution recognized how dangerous government could be to the lives and property of those it was meant to protect, and therefore established an elaborate set of checks and balances in an effort to protect us. The Constitution deals specifically with the situation where the needs of the majority require a sacrifice of the property of an individual for the overall benefit of the community: “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” If the community needs your property for a road or school, they can take it—but only if they pay fair market value. That way the burden of providing for the needs of the many does not fall on just one or a few, but rather is shared equitably by the whole community. We hear the opposite claim today, that the property of the “wealthy” should be taken with no compensation to feed the ever-growing demands of the majority. When were “We the People” endowed with the right to take someone else’s property without compensation? Yet that claim is commonplace in Congress today.
The fear of cosmologists is that Dark Energy will expand our universe until nothing is left. The Dark Energy of government, unless quenched by a return to fundamental Constitutional principles, will tear apart the political bonds of our nation because, ultimately, we each have rights granted to us by the Creator. As the Declaration of Independence proclaims, governments formed by a free people will stand only as long as they protect, rather than take from us, those rights.