Monday, November 22, 2010
By Paul Martin

By Attorney Jonathan Emord
November 22, 2010

The overaching objective of the American Revolution was to throw off the shackles of a government that viewed itself, rather than the people, as sovereign and to erect in its place a government of limited powers where ultimate sovereignty lay with the people. Reflecting on this concept in January of 1800 in his Report on the Virginia Resolutions James Madison observed that “the People, not the Government, possess the absolute sovereignty. The Legislature, no less than the Executive, is under limitations of power.”

The Tea Party movement is based on this Madisonian principle—that the people, not the government, must be sovereign. Of late, the intoxication of unbridled government power gave many in elected office the sense that they could do virtually anything they wanted and not account for it. The electorate has caused a sober sensibility to replace that fantasy, at least for a time. The lust for power and personal aggrandizement, however, is at the core of most politicians and compels an eternally vigilant electorate perennially to remove the head strong at the ballot box.

Inherent in the concept of sovereignty is that of responsibility. Responsibility is often portrayed by modern politicians as a burden to be dispensed with by government and at others’ expense. It is by assuring people that they need not be responsible that those who favor ever larger government succeed in seducing voters. Now, however, there appears to be a reawakening in the public to truths from the American Revolution: If we give up freedom on the notion that we may be relieved of responsibilities associated with it, we end up enslaved with neither choice nor opportunity. We then must live off the unwholesome scraps that elected officials care to pitch our way from their own sumptuous tables (paid for at our expense).

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