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I never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence.
– Abraham Lincoln, Address at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pa., Feb. 22, 1861
The fundamental source of all your errors, sophisms and false reasonings, is a total ignorance of the natural rights of mankind. … The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for, among old parchments, or musty records. They are written as with a sun beam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.
– Alexander Hamilton, “The Farmer Refuted” (1775)
As I look back on the more than 20 years of my active involvement in America’s political life, I believe that I can with deep conviction echo Lincoln’s avowal of consistent allegiance to the foundational principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence. While some others speak of their allegiance to the Constitution as the highest source and expression of their attachment to our country, I have always put the greater emphasis on the Declaration.
The Constitution is an instrument of government. But the Declaration lays down the premises of justice in light of which that instrument is constructed, and the right or wrong use of it accurately decided and assessed. The Constitution states overall the political purposes of the American people and frames the institutions established by their will to pursue those purposes. But the Declaration embodies the reasoning that traces the sovereign authority of the people’s will to the only source consistent with lawful and just government, which is the “laws of nature and of nature’s God,” the will of the ultimate authority, the Creator of all that was and is and ever will be.
In light of the priority I give to the Declaration’s self-evident truths, I unequivocally avow myself to be a Declarationist. As a partisan label, the term is unfamiliar to Americans precisely because, until our muddled times, it was simply synonymous with being, in any true sense, an American. For several decades, however, powerful forces have been working to deprive the American people of the common sense of natural right that above all constitutes our identity as a people. These forces have, with increasing success, promoted political acts, judgments and policies that reject the self-evident truths of the Declaration and the logic by which they bring to light the right of the people to govern themselves.
The 2012 election, therefore, takes place in the context of the greatest political crisis the American people have ever faced. The decision they take next November will “nobly save or meanly lose” the last hope for perpetuating the experiment in righteous liberty thus far successfully advanced by previous generations. That experiment will fail, with little or no chance of recovery, unless the avowed enemy of Declaration principles who presently occupies the White House is defeated and replaced by someone whose record in word and deed proves beyond reasonable doubt that he or she has “never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence.”
It is entirely understandable that Americans determined to turn back the threat to constitutional self-government would expect the party of Lincoln, the so-called Republican Party, to put up a proven, capable and articulate Declarationist as their candidate for president of the United States. It is clear, however, that there is little or no prospect that this will happen. The GOP’s leaders have already begun the phase of their political propaganda intended to narrow the electorate’s field of vision by generating a phony air of inevitability around the candidates now identified as the “top tier” of their party’s primary field. And there is not a Declarationist among them.
The reason for this dearth is clear. Given the GOP’s repeated and ongoing betrayals of Declaration principle, a true Declarationist must feel no more welcome among the Republican Party’s elites today than Lincoln felt among the Whig Party leaders of his time. To be sure, in deference to the strong Declaration allegiance of much of the Party’s grass-roots constituency, every GOP candidate strives to pay credible lip service to the words of the Declaration. But in other words and actions they openly reject its logic, or abandon the acknowledgment of God’s authority that is the indispensable premise of all its reasoning about rights and justice.
This juxtaposition of apparently principled lip-service with statements and positions that openly contradict it has become characteristic of the GOP’s current campaign season. One is led to suspect that it is a deliberate ploy by the GOP elites. Paying clever lip-service to principle attracts a constituency for the sham two-party system that includes many people loyal to the Declaration’s ideas. Once they jump on a party’s bandwagon, false pride leads more than a few to cling stubbornly to their choice, no matter what. If and when the GOP nominee wins office, such people will be reluctant to recognize and react against actions and decisions that betray the views they mistakenly believe the party espouses, especially when the record will show that the nominee’s statements during the primary campaign foreshadowed the betrayals (in which case voters who admit their error will also be admitting that they were careless or inattentive before casting their vote).
In myriad ways, beginning with his unyielding promotion of so-called “abortion rights,” Barack Obama has signaled his intention to discard the Declaration’s principles, beginning with the premise of God-endowed right. But thanks to the GOP’s lip-service strategy, a prevaricating GOP president is more likely to succeed where Obama has failed. He or she will not face the galvanized conservative opposition stirred by Obama’s open and aggressive hostility to those principles. In fact, as they have consistently done for the past 20 years and more, the elitist media’s propaganda machine will use a GOP prevaricator’s betrayals to redefine what it means to be pro-life; what it means to be conservative; what it means to be American. They will ridicule any reasonable, consistent adherence to America’s God-acknowledging Declaration principles, mocking it as a fringe position.
Thus the GOP’s prevarication sets up the banal political scene in which the American people sheepishly acquiesce as the nation’s exceptional opportunity for constitutional self-government withers away, with no more fuss than a GOP-induced whimper. (Anticipating the obvious question, I have posted on my website an article on the GOP’s new flavor-of-the-times, front-runner Newt Gingrich, and his recent Herman Cain-like self-contradiction on the issue that epitomizes Declaration principle: securing the unalienable right to life.)