restoring our biblical and constitutional foundations


Exactly Which Constitution Are You Following?

David Alan Black 

In his tour de force entitled Our Secret Constitution, Columbia law professor George Fletcher shows how Lincoln’s War replaced the original charter with a second American Constitution, a “secret Constitution.” The Constitution of 1787 stood for a maximum freedom of expression of individual liberty, at least against the federal government. The second Constitution is dedicated to organic nationhood and popular democracy, emphasizing not freedom from government but equality under the law. The state would now have to do more than leave us alone. It would have to ensure equal protection—and do so at the point of a bayonet if necessary.

Professor Fletcher notes that although the original charter of 1787 remains in place, it has been so radically transformed by our secret Constitution that for all intents and purposes the old charter is a dead letter. Because of Lincoln’s war, the Tenth Amendment was effectively abolished, the conquered states were made into puppet governments set up by the Republican Party, and Lincoln succeeded in consolidating governmental power in Washington by military dictatorship.

This means that Americans face a choice as to whether to defend the old Constitution or to follow the new, secret charter—that is, whether to defend the concept of a limited republic with maximum freedom for the people or to acquiesce to the new consolidated concept of power that is prone to dictatorial and imperialistic expressions.

It is probably true to say that most Americans are firmly in the pro-big government camp. They don’t mind sacrificing most of their earnings to unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats and unresponsive elected officials, nor do they mind relying on Washington for a host of taxpayer-funded benefits. And they are agreeable to the notion that personal responsibility and independence should be sacrificed for the “security” offered by politicians. At the other end of the spectrum are people who believe in the old Constitution verbatim and who hold personal liberty and responsibility so dear that they dare to expect others to hold similar views. They abhor all but the most limited and narrowly defined forms of taxation because they believe their money belongs to them and that the federal government only needs enough funding to perform its few, narrowly defined, constitutional duties (that is, under the “old” Constitution). They want smaller government, an end to the welfare state, and an end to government intrusions into their lives and businesses. They want to get the federal government completely out of every area where it has made such a mess: health care, education, law enforcement, foreign aid, corporate welfare, farm subsidies, etc. They want leaders who can read the plain language of the Constitution and who understand that the words “Congress shall make no law” mean Congress shall make no law.

This small but vocal group of Americans is calling for the restoration of a republic founded on the ideals of the old Constitution. Often labeled “paleoconservatives,” they believe that the Founding Fathers designed our system of government in the form of a constitutionally limited republic with minimum government control or interference into our personal lives and business affairs. They further believe that government at all levels—federal, state and local—was originally intended to be controlled by the people, that the Constitution explicitly restricts the power of the federal government, and that the Bill of Rights guarantees that the government may not infringe on our God-given unalienable rights. They are anti-interventionists and despise jingoism and imperialism, especially in the United States.

Paleocons are not isolationists. The word “isolationist” is a pejorative term that is used to describe anyone who does not favor using America’s wealth and power or blood for their particular cause. Paleocons believe that the United States of America is the greatest nation on earth, that it should trade with all nations, that Americans should travel to all nations, that we should have diplomatic contact with all nations, and that we should have regular commerce and cultural exchanges with all nations. They just don’t believe in fighting foreign countries’ wars or paying foreign countries’ bills. That is not isolationism; that is patriotism, and that is Americanism.

Pat Buchanan, in a now famous speech, put it succinctly: “My friends, all the great empires of Europe that began our century so full of swagger and bombast came crashing down to ruin. All are now surrendering their identities and their independence to a super state that pays homage to the god of Mammon. America alone still endures, independent and free. The great questions before us are these: Shall we, too, yield to their temptation, follow their path, and suffer their fate? Is the call to empire irresistible? Is a world government inevitable? Or can America remain forever a light unto the nations, an example to mankind of how a free people should govern themselves, a republic above whose sovereignty stands the sovereignty of God alone.”

The choice is clear. Either the old Constitution or the new, “secret” one. Either a republic or an empire. To acquiesce or not to acquiesce.

As Hamlet would say, that is the question.

April 18, 2003

David Alan Black is the editor of

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