“Often a man’s own angry pride is cap and bells for a fool.”
Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)
This source of all sin lays waste, now, to our society. Pride is not just evidenced in the arrogance of some in federal Executive power. In its magnified manifestations relative to proper governance, it represents the inversion of the Founding governing system that was created to check it.
Pride has led a mere bureaucrat to announce that “to attack me is to attack science.” Really, YOU are science? Perhaps you might have humbly added, “Science is really about questioning, it is not about the views of one person. We welcome research from all legitimate quarters.”
Pride has led a Congresswoman to say that “if there’s unrest in our lives there will be unrest in the streets.” Really, since there is unrest in everyone’s life (the very definition of “living”), YOU seem to be justifying criminal unrest. Perhaps you might have humbly added, “’Unrest’ does not include assassinating police officers, wanton attacks on the innocent, or any unlawful acts.”
Pride has led the Commander-in-Chief to declare that he has “no regrets” regarding a dishonorable withdrawal from Afghanistan that left thirteen service members along with hundreds of civilians blown to bits, and American citizens with their families stranded behind enemy lines. Really, YOU ordered this debacle with the advice of top commanders? Perhaps you might have humbly added, “I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry about the loss of life. This military decision was made by me, but we will not rest until all Americans and their families are rescued from Afghanistan, as promised.”
Pride has led the Secretary of Homeland Security to proclaim “The border is closed.” Really, the cameras are lying? Two-million unvetted persons or more have entered our country outside the Rule of Law? YOU have decided this is okay? Perhaps you might have humbly added, “Our attempt at ‘charitable’ immigration has not borne out as we had hoped.”
The Founders anticipated this most serious of human offense. Benjamin Franklin tells us that “In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions, so hard to subdue as pride.” The Founders had a plan to counter it called Federalism. Federalism, in its essence, is a system for the containment of power. It is power that often compels the sin of pride and it is concentrated power in government, that if not contained, rises up in society as Tyranny. Tyranny equals force. Liberty equals choice.
American Federalism places the individual, parents, and the family at the apex of power, not elected or appointed public servants. If, in envisioning a pyramid, you can imagine the narrowest tip at the top the most powerful and the bottom the least powerful, you would understand how the American system is supposed to work. This thinking is counter-intuitive to many people but was important to those who created our Constitutional governing system in 1787. This is what makes the American system exceptional and why we must teach civics, history, philosophy, and economics K-12 in American schools. It takes a long time to understand how a Constitutional Republic is supposed to work.
Here is the proper Constitutional lineup beginning with the most powerful relative to governance:
- We, the People, the ultimate Sovereign of the nation who consents to governance by both the state and the nation as long as both of those governing bodies protect unalienable and Constitutional rights of individual citizens. Parents are the ultimate authority for their underage children.
- The local community where citizens reside including public schools where children go to school. The ordinances passed by city councils and local school board mandates have the second most power because they are closest to the conditions unique to that citizenry of that community. If an outbreak of disease were to affect a community disproportionately to other communities, measures that would appear overbroad might not seem so if localized and for a specific purpose. Parents are able to make other educational choices for their children if government schools are educating inappropriately.
- Townships and counties. Mid-tier levels of local authority with power that interconnects many communities within a county. These issues often involve proper infrastructure and development. Special tax levies for particular projects specific to one township or county that have a beginning and an end are generally not seen as overbroad or excessively burdensome.
- States have broad general “police power” over the health (a pandemic, for example), welfare, and morals of their residents. States have much broader authority over individual citizens than the national or federal government. When state laws become Tyrannical, citizens have a Constitutional right to move elsewhere.
- Lastly, the national government, whose power is the least over individuals and the most where issues of nationhood are involved – such as war, international relations, sovereignty, borders, immigration, interstate commerce, interstate waterways, interstate infrastructure, national fiscal and monetary policy, and investments in research and development too expensive or massive for the private sector.
What has happened over time is that the governing system the Founders created has been distorted to such an extent that the federal government has decided IT has the ultimate power over the person through the services and payments it provides. The federal government has decided that IT has the ultimate power over parents and their children through federal monies tied to public schools and other programs. The national government does not have this power Constitutionally; it has simply overwhelmed the citizen Sovereign who finds it difficult to resist.
In Dante’s Divine Comedy, pride is considered a rejection of divine authority, an assumption that one is greater than God. Pride, envy, avarice – “These are the sparks have set on fire the hearts of all men.” They lead to disorder, corruption, violence, chaos, fraud, and a rejection of the natural order. They lead elected and appointed servants of the People to say: “I am science” – “I have no regrets” – “Our border is not open.” In Dante’s travels through Hell, these persons are seen frozen in ice, nibbled on for eternity by those they injured. For eternity.
Angry pride is cap and bells for a fool. We the People should humbly take our rightful Constitutional power back and never cede it to the arrogant again.