In rejecting God’s sovereignty, ‘we the people’ reject our own
Alan Keyes diagnoses leaders’ ‘arrogant disdain’ for the authority of the Constitution
I fear that many people who profess to be staunch supporters of the U.S. Constitution belie that claim in the way they speak and act. In ordaining and establishing the Constitution of the United States, the people of the United States exercised the chief power of their sovereignty over themselves. The provision that declares the Constitution, and all laws and treaties made in pursuance thereof, to be the Supreme Law of the land confirms this fact.
In this respect, the people as a whole (using that word to denote the many and the outstanding few, working in concert) are the governing power, the boss, as it were. The words of the Constitution are their instructions, establishing the goals, parameters, and procedures for their instrument of self-government.
In the workplace, sensible employees pay careful attention to the boss’s instructions. In a well-administered enterprise, subordinate managers take pains to make sure they do so. Guidelines, manuals, notices, and periodic training and information sessions are all part of their efforts. Managers use them to make sure that everyone keeps the will, words, and intentions of the boss uppermost in their minds, so that they do nothing without first considering the wishes of the chief.
With this in mind, it’s striking how rarely these days the key employees and managers of the U.S. government structure their thinking, and consequent actions, in a way that takes the words of the Constitution as their guide in both selecting and pursuing end, ways, and means for the government’s activity. Instead of such logic, pragmatism prevails. They decide what they mean to do. They select the goals and ways and means that might achieve it. And then, pretty much as an afterthought, they consult supposed experts to come up with some way to give their actions some plausible gloss of constitutional respectability.
At present, all too many of America’s governmental officers, elected and otherwise, are influenced by a factional mentality that disdains belief in the sovereignty of God. But, in terms of the organic law of the United States (which includes the American Declaration of Independence), the authority of God is the source of the sovereignty vested in America’s body politic. Disbelieving the sovereignty of God, these elements of what I call the elitist faction also do not believe in the sovereignty of the people. But to keep people who do from getting in their way, they make a pretense of doing so. Their disbelief leads them to disdain the constitutionally expressed will of their boss, the people of the United States, the way many of them disdain the rule of Almighty God.
On account of this arrogant disdain, the elitist faction mentality does not seriously consider that the nation owes its success, unparalleled in human history, to key provisions of the Constitution. They willfully blind themselves and others to the possibility that the deliberately pondered provisions of the Constitution, ratified and proclaimed as Supreme Law by the first generation of the American body politics, reflect moral wisdom and prudential foresight, liable to contribute mightily to a good outcome for the nation. They foment this blindness even as the nation verges toward disintegration, on account of their hostility and dereliction toward that Supreme Law.
They deny God’s authority and Providence because doing so opens the way for humanity to return to the age-old view that superior human power engenders sovereignty, without regard to forward-looking premises of right, justice (which is, properly, the exercise of right), and the common good. Rejecting Providence, the elitist faction’s minions reject the common sense that prevailed among the American people during the founding generation. That common sense upheld the view that God’s Rule, and the laws that depend upon it, take into account the boundless information of God, information which anticipates consequences humanity cannot yet, and may not ever see, on its own.
Their sense of God’s information gave great significance to the conclusive words of the American Declaration of Independence, in which the “Representatives of the united States of America” proclaim their “firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.” In our day, we are apt to think of this protection as if it refers to miraculous intervention, terms that people at the time did apply to some events that transpired in the Revolutionary War. But the words also connote the understanding John Adams expressed to a colleague as the draft of the Declaration was being finalized:
- One day, as he and Benjamin Rush sat together in Congress, Rush asked Adams in a whisper if he thought America would succeed in the struggle. “Yes,” Adams replied, “if we fear God and repent our sins.”
Providence, it seems, works ordinarily through God’s Rule, so that success awaits those who turn from their own way to follow it. With this in mind, Americans ought to be grateful that the Constitution reflects the framers’ conscientious effort to do just that. Circumstances limited their capacity to do so fully (especially regarding slavery and a woman’s right to vote, for instance), but they set the nation on a path that rose, by paths however narrow, steep and haltingly, toward God’s way. We need to raise up officers of government who will imitate them. Officers who perceive and will pursue the hope that comes of doing right – as God gives us to see it – beyond the limited purview of our own limited and self-centered will.