“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
The Right to revolt against one’s government is an absolute right, and some would even go as far as to say it is a duty. The Right to revolt is variously stated throughout history, of the subjects of a nation to overthrow a government that acts against their common interests. Belief in this right extends back to ancient China, and it has been used throughout history to justify various rebellions, including the American Revolution and the French Revolution. How boring would History be without it?
Hyper focusing on our Republic, the sinew of Revolution is ingrained, not only in the Declaration of Indenpendence, but in several of the State’s Constitutions. Revolution is an American ideal. Without it, we’d …well, you get the idea. 250 some odd years later and Jefferson’s words still resound, ” I like a little revolution (rebellion) from now and then…”
New Hampshire’s constitution guarantees its citizens the right to reform government, in Article 10 of the New Hampshire constitution’s Bill of Rights:
Whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or establish a new government. The doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.
The Kentucky constitution also guarantees a right to alter, reform or abolish their government in the Kentucky Bill of Rights:
All power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their peace, safety, happiness and the protection of property. For the advancement of these ends, they have at all times an inalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may deem proper.
Similar wording is used in Pennsylvania’s constitution, under Article 1, Section 2 of the Declaration of Rights.
All power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their peace, safety and happiness. For the advancement of these ends they have at all times an inalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think proper.
Article I, §2 of the Tennessee constitution states:
That government being instituted for the common benefit, the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.
North Carolina’s constitution of November 21, 1789 also contains in its Declaration of Rights:
3d. That Government ought to be instituted for the common benefit, protection and security of the people; and that the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and destructive to the good and happiness of mankind.
The Constitution of Texas also contains similar wording in Article 1, Sect 2:
All political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their benefit. The faith of the people of Texas stands pledged to the preservation of a republican form of government, and, subject to this limitation only, they have at all times the inalienable right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think expedient.
Although, in our times, it can be argued that democratic governments can be overthrown by popular vote, the right of the people to remove the government has become embedded into the political system. However, replacing representatives falls short of changing the actual form of government by altering or rewriting its constitution. The ease of peoples to democratically implement such fundamental changes varies widely across nations and is generally quite onerous, if not impossible, within existing legal and media frameworks.
However, if our Republic is to survive, the people had to understand that the government was now their government.
Ideas have consequences. But the insurrectionist idea extends beyond debates about guns and the Second Amendment. It reinforces the image of the government and the people being at odds.
In a democracy, however, the government is the people’s government. Of course, we did not all vote for whomever now sits in the White House and Congress. We are a large and vital democracy — not a village of Stepford wives — and there is much about which we disagree. The majority, moreover, can be wrong. Sometimes we are boiling mad, and with good reason. But we have liberty…for now.
And yet, if we are to preserve our Republic, we cannot see our own government as an enemy, nor neither should we be ill-prepared and placid sheep.