The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are all important documents that speak eloquently to the rights of “We the People” and set clear limits on government power. But in reality, they are all just words. Words don’t give us any rights they only take note of the freedoms we already legitimately have by birthright. And these words on pieces of paper certainly can’t protect our freedoms all by themselves. Our rights are protected only by the commitment we citizens have to defend that Constitution, and thus our rights.
Our Founders understood this. That’s why after the Constitution was proposed, Ben Franklin said a Republic had been created, “if you can keep it.” Thomas Jefferson pointed out, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” To protect our rights against government encroachment, we need to be able to participate actively in the democratic process.
Back in colonial times, voter referendums were unworkable. But today, citizens in 24 states and thousands of localities have voter initiatives, whereby the citizens can, in fact, overrule their elected officials where the citizens really do have a process to control the government. At every level of government, citizens must have the right of initiative and referendum so that our government won’t be under citizen control just in theory, but in actual reality. Politicians spout lots of flowery rhetoric about citizen control of government. So why don’t we actually give it a try?
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.