Jerry Bowyer

Last week I attempted to ignite a debate (not a revolt) about the State of America now compared to 238 years ago, when we abolished the authority of the British government over our affairs.

If we take a WWJD approach (What Would Jefferson Do?), we find that the preconditions for revolt are:

The government becomes destructive of the proper ends of government which are the protection of life, liberty and property and/or pursuit of prosperity. This does not mean that a government should be abolished if it fails to perfectly protect these foundational rights. Such a principle would lead to chaos since no government can possibly protect us perfectly.

It does not even mean that we may abolish a government if it attacks those rights. The government must become destructive of those rights, which means that in general and on balance the government destroys those rights more than it secures them.

After all, the government which the founders created was not a perfect Jeffersonian paradise. It permitted national deficits which Jefferson and others believed violated the liberty of future generations. The government founded a national bank funded with taxpayer dollars which the Jeffersonians believed was an exercise of power not enumerated by the Constitution, and therefore a violation of the limits which were placed on the government in order to protect the taxpayers. But Jefferson did not call for an armed revolution against the nascent republic. He even participated in the compromise which led to the creation of the bank.

All governments which have ever existed have sometimes protected and sometimes attacked the foundational rights of life, liberty and property. What triggers the right of abolition according to the Declaration of Independence is whether, all things considered, the government is a destroyer rather than a protector of those rights.

But even if the government goes so far as to become a net destroyer of liberty, even that is not sufficient logical grounds on which to abolish it. If the point of a declaration of independence from a government is to end the condition of vanishing liberty, it follows inevitably that such a declaration would only be advisable if the new government were to be a better protector of our liberties. My friend Glenn Reynolds, law professor and Instapundit, says that revolutions are like throws of the dice. You just don’t know for sure what you are going to get.


Jerry Bowyer

Jerry Bowyer is a radio and television talk show host.