Limiting the Power of Government
Taking Human Depravity Seriously
Taking human depravity seriously is the heart of the matter in politics—it’s why only the ignorant or fools think that we can separate politics from religion. Al Gore, John Kerry and George Bush are all religious men, but then again so were Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Hitler and Hirohito. The question is which god a man worships and what kind of thinking that god leads men to embrace.
Understanding that humankind is born in sin and that sin colors every aspect of the human personality, including his ability to reason, ought to lead us to embrace the concept of limited government such as that envisioned in the Constitution of the United States.
This Government is under a written Constitution that was
deliberately very difficult to amend:
“The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it
necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the
Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall
call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall
be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when
ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by
Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of
Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment
which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight
shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth
Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent,
shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.” (
This Government was not democratic in terms of fickle popular
opinion, but democratic by representative government.
That is, the
This Government carefully balanced the authority of the Federal
government with the authority of the individual states:
“The powers not delegated to the
4. It had three fundamental divisions, each with the ability to hold the others in a measure of check. Of those three, the first to be listed was the legislative, then the executive and lastly the judicial.
“All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a
Congress of the
“The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the
“The judicial Power of the
5. The first branch of government is the legislative, and there is no hint of an “Imperial Presidency” with power to legislate. (The line item veto is an egregious breach of Constitutional government.) The legislative branch also deliberately embraced a certain inefficiency with two houses of Congress, one popular and easily changed, the other reflecting the individual states and more difficult to change.
5.1. “The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States.” (Ibid., Article I, Section 2.)
“The Senate of the
In addition to these Constitutional
structures that very much reflect the Founders and Framers’
understanding of human nature, the early leaders of
Consider, for example, these words
“Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.
“The great rule of conduct for
us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations,
to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far
as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect
good faith. Here let us stop.
“Why quit our own to stand upon
foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of
Or consider the words of President John
Quincy Adams, in 1821, when he was Secretary of State, in response to
foreign nations’ question, “What has
“Let our answer be this:
* Aceldama: a Greek word found in Acts 1:19 (This became known to all who lived in Jerusalem, so that in their own language they called that field Hakeldama, that is, “Field of Blood.”) and based on two Aramaic words, field and blood, pronounced together as cha KAYL de MAH. The Greek transliteration, Hakeldama, is often Anglicized and pronounced as ah SEL da ma. It refers to the field the priests bought with the money Judas received for betraying Jesus and later returned to them. It was a place for the burial of strangers and was formerly called the potter’s field according to Matthew 27:7. It is located by tradition south of the valley of Hinnom, Gehenna, the biblical picture of hell. As the word is used by President Adams, it means a place with dreadful associations.