15 June 2015

No More Kings?

Today, June 15, 2015, marks the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede, England. King John agreed that no man, not even the king, was above the law. The ideas about liberty in this document are what separate English-speaking people from the rest of the world, and from where American Exceptionalism is ultimately derived.

The Magna Carta is presented to King John at Runnymede, June 15, 2015
Now that we are almost as removed from the 1620 Mayflower Pilgrims as they were from the English barons who confronted King John, let's remember that unlike the tagline of "No More Kings" - the Schoolhouse Rock song from our Saturday-morning youth - "we're going to elect a president, he's going to do what the people say", the expulsion of the king and the election of a president is not what protects the people from tyranny.

Colonists lived in America for 150 years as Englishmen with the rights, privileges, and liberty - even under the sovereign - as other Englishmen. When new rules were made for them, and they found they did not enjoy the same representation as their forebears across the pond, they reacted to the tyranny, and the revolution was begun.

Two decades later, the Constitution - an improvement on the Magna Carta as it guarantees the liberty of all citizens, not just feudal barons - was adopted. The checks and balances therein were acknowledgements by the founders that all governments, even duly elected ones, could become tyrannical over time.

We see this around the world all the time when despotic rulers tout their "free elections", with no constitution guaranteeing any real freedoms at all!

On this day, we should look to our Constitution's Ninth Amendment, and remember the "other" rights and the Magna Carta:

 "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

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