16 January 2006

Founders and Kings

Al Gore celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by giving
an important history lesson in Washington.

At present, we still have much to learn about the
NSA's domestic surveillance. What we do know
about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels
the conclusion that the President of the United
States has been breaking the law repeatedly and

A president who breaks the law is a threat to the
very structure of our government. Our Founding
Fathers were adamant that they had established a
government of laws and not men. Indeed, they
recognized that the structure of government they
had enshrined in our Constitution - our system of
checks and balances - was designed with a central
purpose of ensuring that it would govern through
the rule of law. As John Adams said: "The executive
shall never exercise the legislative and judicial
powers, or either of them, to the end that it may be
a government of laws and not of men."

An executive who arrogates to himself the power to
ignore the legitimate legislative directives of the
Congress or to act free of the check of the judiciary
becomes the central threat that the Founders sought
to nullify in the Constitution - an all-powerful
executive too reminiscent of the King from whom
they had broken free. In the words of James Madison,
"the accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive,
and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a
few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed,
or elective, may justly be pronounced the very
definition of tyranny."

Thomas Paine, whose pamphlet, "On Common Sense"
ignited the American Revolution, succinctly described
America's alternative. Here, he said, we intended to
make certain that "the law is king."

Take the time to read the entire speech, here (and consider how
much better the past five years might have been if the guy with
the most votes had won in 2000.)