So there’s been a group of people running around the United States for 30 years or so who call themselves Constitutionalists, among other things. They have — shall we say —quirky ideas about the rule of the law, the nature of the US constitution and of citizens’ rights within it.
My personal favorite of their claims is that — in their claiming, not mine — that I (meaning Politicalprof and people like me) are “sovereign citizens.” What this means in practice is that since people like me — white, male and property owning — were legally entitled to be citizens of the US before the US Constitution was created, we are “sovereign” — e.g., superior — to the Constitution. This means that I — meaning Politicalprof and people like me — have the personal right to reject or nullify laws that seem to us to intrude on our freedom since, obviously, we would never have consented to such laws in 1787. I am sovereign over the federal government, which cannot take away my rights as I define them.
Now, many of my sharp and sophisticated readers will be have their brows in a knot, going, “but, Politicalprof, what if you’re NOT a white male property owner? What if you’re a woman? Or a minority? Or an immigrant?” No worries: you are what is known as a “14th Amendment citizen.” That is, you are a citizen, but not a sovereign citizen. (Again, this is their argument, not mine.) Rather, you were granted citizenship by the 14th Amendment.
The distinction here is important: I was a citizen (allegedly) who could have made the Constitution, so my rights and liberties exist independent of the Constitution. Everyone else is a citizen as a result of the Constitution, and is bound therefore by its rules and limitations. In addition, we can take your citizenship and rights away through Constitutional changes, but we can never take mine away — as I define them — because people like me defined them in 1787.
Simple, huh? In any case, such persons are on the loose again. The anti-government fervor of the last years, mixed with the rise of a legalistic strain of libertarianism, has combined to make nonsense sound like Constitutional reasoning.
To wit, the post below. A group calling itself the “Republic for the united States of America” (the lowercase “u” matters) has decided that the United States you and I think of is not the real united States. More, they’ve decided they’ve recreated the real the united States. I am posting their words in full, cause hey: you need the full crazy.
Have fun! …
Can’t seem to find anything on their site about being “white, male, and land-owning.” Normally I’d think that would be beneath you but our past conversations have shown you perfectly willing to use dishonest rhetoric to make appeals to emotion.
Though even if that were the case (which, given their focus on the Constitution, may be true - though it’s not even implied as far as I can tell), that would make them completely opposed to most people who adopt the label of “sovereign individual.” (The group is already pretty obscure: their facebook page has fewer likes than Cannibalism. Will people eating other people be your next post of grave concern?) Also antithetical to the idea of being a sovereign individual is apologizing for the misdeeds of others, which they do in their credo.
The idea of the “sovereign individual,” contrary to your [possibly contrived] explanation above, is not presupposed by race, gender, or owning land; nor is it, contrary to the group’s claims above, founded on Constitutional principles. In fact, most people who declare themselves to be “sovereign individuals” would find it conflicting to replace one state with another.
The idea is that each of us is the ultimate authority over our lives and that we are all free to do - borrowing Leonard Read’s phrase - anything that’s peaceful. It is self-ownership: We own our lives, we own the ability to decide what we do with our lives (that which we voluntarily choose to do without aggressing others, or liberty), and we own the product of our lives (that which we traded our time and talents for, or property). It is about the principle of non-aggression - to not initiate violence against others - and the justice, peace, and prosperity that naturally flows from it.
But we’ve had this dance before. You have repeatedly disregarded the primacy of consent (here, here, and here). Because you believe that aggressively forced obligations are fundamental to a safe and functional society, and thus the individual does not necessarily have final say over his or her life, I can understand why people claiming to be “sovereign individuals” could ruffle your feathers.
Sadly, you wear your shackles too proudly to ever acknowledge the barbarity of your stance.
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