Why Join the Declaration Alliance?
Why should all Americans who are serious about their citizenship join the Declaration Alliance?
Because the Declaration Alliance is the national organization of political activists directly focused on the one thing most necessary-
-the pearl without price--for the renewal of American life. If you hold dear your American citizenship, then you know that the heart of that citizenship is your assent to the principles of justice proclaimed to the world in our glorious Declaration of Independence,
the American creed of our civic religion.
In our day, it can sometimes seem that what we call "politics" has become so complicated, technical, and contentious that only experts or scholars are really qualified to keep the ship of state on course. But in politics, as in everything else, real wisdom is not found in technical details, but in the fundamental principles from which everything else follows. From Jefferson, to Lincoln, to Reagan, to the humblest citizen today, the American heroes are those who resolve to put the truths of the Declaration at the heart of all they say or do in American politics. This is the wisdom that conceived America in liberty, has kept her in liberty for more than two centuries, and can keep her free for many more.
By becoming an enrolled associate of the Declaration Alliance, you will join your efforts to ours in the perpetual labor of renewing America on the basis of this essential wisdom. Your enrollment and participation signifies your determination to actively help advance the principles of the Declaration of Independence
throughout American political life.
Our allegiance to the God-given truth of these principles makes us Declarationists.
Expressed most perfectly in that timeless statement of our national beliefs, the Declaration of Independence, these principles are also prudently applied in the instrument that founded the government of this country-
-the Constitution of the United States. Our allegiance to the Founders' incorporation of Declaration principles into the U.S. Constitution confirms us as Constitutionalists. We understand that the framework of government our Founders bequeathed us in the Constitution finds its justification and explanation-
-its most profound anchor and defense-
-in the vision of justice that is succinctly articulated in the Declaration. The Constitution is the noble attempt of our Founders to clothe the spirit of the Declaration in the flesh and bone of an actual republic.
And as with the human body, judging the significance and purpose of the parts of the Constitution without reference to the animating spirit which gives it life can lead to misunderstandings, and dangerous errors. Without the Declaration, the Constitution is too easily reduced to a procedural agreement reached by a group of men, long dead, who happened to live more or less where we live today. Why should it bind us now, we might ask? Indeed, are not the outrages of infamous Supreme Court decisions, recent presidential abuses of power, and apparently unlimited Congressional spending and regulation, just so many instances of today's elites refusing to be bound by the Constitution to which they give nominal allegiance? Openly or with sophistical rationalizations, our political leaders have long been tempted to replace the governmental order of the Constitution with other, less free modes and orders more to their liking. And as uncomfortable as it may be, we must face the fact that mere veneration of the Constitution is not a sufficient answer to such tyrannical ambition.
The Constitution does not contain its own defense; it is not self-evident that we should have a bicameral legislature, that the Congress should have the power to declare war, or that presidential vetoes should be overridden by a 2/3 majority. It is not even self-evident that the federal government should share sovereign authority with the state government, or that powers not specifically delegated to the federal government should be reserved to the states and the people.
All these things are like finely-engineered machine parts, components of a delicate engine of governance which we appreciate, venerate, and wish to defend, but which we cannot protect without looking beyond it to the purposes it serves, to the reasons it was constructed. To defend the Constitution, we must understand the principles that animate it. We must look to the Declaration. To be Constitutionalists, we must be Declarationists.
A Declarationist is one who holds that the political and philosophical truths in the Declaration are the touchstone of American political life, and that our common assent to them is the most profound ground of our union as Americans. Consequently, the truths of the Declaration are the authoritative principles to be used in interpreting the Constitution, our positive law, and our public policy. The Declaration provides the wisdom by which everything in American political life can be judged.
The Right to Keep and Bear Arms
Consider, for example, the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which states: "A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed." Note first that the operative clause of the amendment, "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed," is preceded by a clause that gives the reason for it: "A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State." What is perhaps most striking about the Second Amendment is that it is so unlike almost everything else in the Constitution-
-it contains a reason for the determination it contains. We really should turn in wonder at the rest of the document, asking as if for the first time-
-what are the reasons for its parts?
But even here, when we attempt to understand the reason offered for the right "of the people to keep and bear arms," we should be struck by its evident assumption of larger goods, larger purposes, than that which the right itself concerns. Freedom to keep and bear arms is necessary because a well-regulated Militia is necessary, and a well-regulated Militia is necessary "to the security of a free State." But what is a "free State?" And why should we want one? The Constitution is silent.
It is to the Declaration that we turn to learn that a free state is a self-governing community of free men, and that the principal danger to such free self-government is from the possibility of tyrannical government. Free states are desirable because the equality in which God has created man implies that the responsibility for government is possessed equally by all, not assigned by human force or divine will to a chosen few. The freedom whose purpose the Second Amendment exists to protect is freedom from the tyranny of our own government, so that we can all join in our duty to govern our own affairs. The purpose of the right to keep and bear arms, accordingly, is revealed by the Declaration to be the preservation of the means necessary for the people to accomplish the duty of self-government, should their government be tempted to tyranny.
The Right to Life
An even clearer example of the crucial importance of the Declaration for Constitutional interpretation arises in the case of abortion. The Declaration teaches that we are all created equal. It makes explicitly clear that government power exists for the sake of securing the rights that we share by virtue of our equal status as human creatures of God. The very notion of a "right" to determine that another member of the human species--even if only an embryo--is an unequal bearer of the rights government exists to protect, and so can be legitimately killed in order that the rights of another person can be sustained, is an absurdity according to the teaching of the Declaration.
Since the Declaration makes clear that our rights arise from the dignity that we share equally with all humankind, he who would claim the right to treat another person unequally repudiates, by that very claim, the doctrine of human equality. The claim to an abortion "right" is thus a renunciation of membership in the community which the Declaration declares to be equal and self-governing. But it is this community for which the Constitution "constitutes" a government. A Constitutional right to abortion is thus untenable--for the man who claims the right to abort another under the Constitution declares, at the same time, that he is not a member of the community governed by the Constitution.
The Income Tax
Our Founders' prohibition of an income tax in the Constitution is explained by the tendency of such a tax to make government the master of the material basis of our liberty, enslavement the Declaration clearly will not tolerate. How can a people retain their power to discipline government if the government has the right to demand not only control of their every dollar, but minute accounting of every aspect of their material circumstances? But an income tax requires just such governmental control and personal accounting. Accordingly, the 16th Amendment which authorizes a Federal income tax is seen to be inconsistent with the underlying principles of the Constitution.
On issue after issue, we find that particular matters of policy are illuminated, and particular policy disputes are clearly solved, once the Declaration is restored to its rightful place as the bedrock of all American political reasoning. Again and again, we find that apparently insoluble disputes can in fact be reduced to the simple choice for or against the self-evident truths of the Declaration. And we believe that today's citizens will confirm the Founders' brave decision to take their stand with the laws of Nature and Nature's God if the particular policy disputes of our time are again effectively presented in terms of the logic of the Declaration. It is our duty to our fellow citizens, and our duty to the God who gave us the capacity for self-government, that we strive to present all these issues again in terms of that logic. This is the crucial duty of the thoughtful American citizen today, as it has been since the beginning of our blessed liberty.
The Declaration Alliance
will strive to help illuminate the political questions of the day by the light of the principles of the Declaration. Our work is to help citizen and politician alike understand the reasons for the policy positions that we must take if we are to remain faithful to the founding promise of the American republic-
-to build a political order that will effectively secure the rights we receive from the hand of the Creator. Above all, we will stand and defend the Founders' articulation of the paramount principle of human equality-
-that whatever our condition or status of life, we are all perfectly equal in our human brotherhood before the Fatherhood of God Almighty.
We cannot force our fellow citizens to accept this principle again. But we can, and will, spend ourselves, our treasure, and our talents, to make sure that all Americans again remember and understand the lasting stakes of the political battles of the moment. We can, and will, do everything in our power to make sure that the great people of the United States recall the high duty that Providence has placed upon them for deliberating upon such questions-
-not in the base and dim light of passing material passion or interest, but in the enduring and ennobling light of the Declaration's liberating principles. If we can succeed in casting this noble light on the political discussions of our time, we believe we can still trust the American people to decide aright, and to preserve liberty for generations yet to come.
It is this noble work which we invite you to join, by becoming an enrolled associate of the Declaration Alliance-
-America's Founding is America's Future!
(Click here to join)