"...if the President is permitted to be above the law, then we no longer have a republic."~ James Bovard
To learn more about our rule of law, the Constitution and how it was created, check out The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution by Kevin R.C. Gutzman.
The Rule of Law
Is the "Rule of Thumb"
In order to have a free society, there must be law. The opposite of the rule of law is rule by men.... and we all know how well that works.
Protecting Individual Liberty
The Rule of Law provides a framework under which individuals and groups may operate equitably without infringing on the rights of other individuals and groups. The moral ideal behind using the rule of law for governance is that "all men are created equal." Are they? Certainly, at five feet tall, Michelle does not feel very "equal" to her taller friends, but I am subject to the same guidelines as an individual. Is this fair? Not really, but fairness is subjective. One cannot disagree that if cave exploration were my chosen career, I would have a great advantage over my taller citizens. Since men do not have perfect knowledge (to think so is to make men into gods), our rule of law ensures that each individual is provided the same opportunities and protection as other individuals to decide their own destiny. As to fairness? It is not up to men to decide for other men what our strengths and weaknesses are, what our advantages and obstacles may be in life.
It is up to each individual to decide how they handle it all, and we ensure the greatest opportunity for individuals to explore their strenghts and overcome obstacles by providing a framework of liberty under the law.
While my heighty friends may have a hindrance to success in spelunking, their passion for exploration may prove a greater determinate of their success - if, say, this short person is terribly claustrophobic. It is up to each individual to decide what their path should be, not governments or other men - this value allows for the greatest variety of people, experiences and progress which benefits everyone.
Protecting Community Rules - the Heart of Conservative Strength
The rule of law in the United States ensures that the inalienable rights of the individual are not violated in the course of creating communities through government. While Ronald Reagan correctly mused that, "libertarianism is the heart of conservativism," it is in the realm of using good government and good laws to create community where the conservative principle leaves libertarian philosophy behind. While a strictly libertarian mindset adheres to the idea that "all government is bad and should be avoided", the conservative philosophy holds that government is a great tool when kept limited and local and in the hands of the governed - the community. While both the libertarian and the conservative may want to keep taxes as low as possible, the conservative view holds that responsible taxation - kept in the local community - is an effective tool for creating community. When we post speed limits near schools, or ban smoking in a public area, or enforce zoning restrictions in community areas, we are creating community under the law. This is an important consideration for the conservative for many reasons. One of our main complaints in the Declaration of Independence was our ability to create and enforce our own laws in our own communities, and creating community is one way in which we exercise individual liberty, such as through freedom of assembly. Our ability to create communities is one way that we protect diversity in America - by respecting both individual and state rights (and limiting federal power) under the law, we defend the very thing that makes us strong: the ability of individuals to create diverse communities.
The remaining four principles can only be defended through the rule of law, making law the hinge that holds it all together and the most important principle to defend. When anarchy (lawlessness) prevails in government, anarchy (tyranny) in society follows. All individuals are protected by and subject to the law equally, from the poorest bum to the President of the Union - in effect, it is our government that the law was designed to restrain, not the people.
The rule of law is the most important principle for without it we have no freedom and no country.
. . . The Alphaville Decoder . . .
It's All Related
In order to defend the rule of law, individuals must have the liberty to do so! By practicing good governement and civic participation, we ensure that the law is followed by our representatives. One way in which liberty and the law suffer is by an assumption that the rule of law somehow binds our representatives - we are seeing now how, over time, our representatives may slowly disregard the rule of law in favor of arbitrary legislation which slowly erodes liberty. Once we lose enough liberty to defend our rights in government, the rule of law becomes rule by men very quickly. How do you best defend the rule of law? By exercising your individual liberty to do so through civic participation.
. . . The Alphaville Decoder . . .