Foundational Principle #5: The interests of the majority and the rights of the minority are protected when government acts within the principles of equality under the law for the preservation of God-given natural rights.
Foundational principles of our free republic are eroding as modern Americans redefine them, creating a false construct that is replacing our sure foundation. We must begin again to educate our children in the principles of freedom because this new construct will not stand the test of time.
One founding principles whose definition has been so warped that it threatens our freedom, is the principle of equality. Our founders set forth the principle of equality in the Declaration of Independence in the immortal expression, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
What is the nature of equality as expressed in the Declaration of Independence and protected within Constitutional law? What are the principles of equality that our founders understood when they said that it was a self evident truth?
Notice the word "Creator" is capitalized in the Declaration of Independence, and the deliberate qualifier of the word equal by the word created. Every word is carefully placed within the Declaration to establish the essential self-evident truths upon which our new nation would be founded. The nature of equality as expressed within the Declaration of Independence and upheld by earlier generations of Americans as the quintessential American truth, was qualified as being a gift from God, the Creator.
The Declaration was a universal proclamation of God-given Natural Rights, and being created equal meant that all human beings, regardless of religion, sex, or skin color, or circumstance of birth were endowed by their Creator with the same natural rights. Like God, "the Founders were well aware that different people are unequal in physical and mental capacities. But however noticeable the differences between people may be, they are never so great as to deprive them of their rights. No one, no matter how intelligent or capable he or she may be, can claim the right to rule others. Since all men and women share a common human nature, they are all therefore equally entitled to the same natural rights (such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness)." ("Not All Equality is Equal: What Does Equality Mean?" The Daily Signal)
Protection of this God-given equality was provided for in the Constitution of the United States through it's singular purpose to limit the reach of government in order that all individuals might have an equal endowment of space with which to exercise their natural rights unimpeded by the governments and other men. The principle of equality under the law, provided the only equality human governments are able to affect in the everyday administration of their functions, that is, to guarantee the equal treatment under the law no matter your natural differences.
Unfortunately, many Americans are discontented with the human condition and want more than equal space to live free, they look to the law to overcome the natural inequalities of the human condition. Rather than protecting equally the natural rights of each individual, they desire the law to change the natural conditions of each individual. Using the law to level out the natural inequalities of the human condition has become the new understanding of the principle, "equal under the law." With this definition applied, the law is deliberately unequal with the intent of creating equity of condition, equity of results.
I asked a few of my teenage students how they would define equality within American society today, and the first response, that was hammered out almost without thought, was "equality of opportunity." When I probed for a further definition of what equality of opportunity means, I received this definition: the principle that I should have just as much chance at success as everyone else. This definition of equality, without the proper qualifiers, is translated into law like this:
After showing this illustration of equal opportunity, I asked them if the law equally applied could provide this concept of equity? This was a much harder question for them to conceptualize, but at first glance most of our youth today would describe the second picture as true equality. This meme has come to symbolize the "social justice" movement for radical equality. It seems logical, compassionate, but how does it work? How does the law add the extra supports? In practice the law must create inequalities in law, in order to construct these supports. What's wrong with that? The answer is that when the law is used to overcome natural inequalities, it will have to overcome the obstacles put in place to protect natural rights, and the natural consequence will be a loss of those very rights that government was instituted to protect.
What impact does this social justice philosophy of radical equality have on what American's imagine when they hear the words, "All men are created equal?"
"Today, many people think that equal rights are not enough and demand equality of results. They view any inequalities, whether in income or educational attainment, as a sign of injustice." ("Not All Equality is Equal: What Does Equality Mean?" The Daily Signal) With this twisted definition of equality, Americans have consigned themselves to struggle in a never ending pursuit of equality of results, until we are no longer equal under the law, nor free.
Another tragedy of this warped definition of equality is that those stuck in this misguided paradigm can never be content to enjoy the protection of their God-given natural rights. The pursuit of happiness will forever allude them because they are unable to tolerating the natural inequalities of mortals, and they will likewise be unable to fully enjoy the desirable aspects of natural diversity.
After-all, there is a bright side to the natural inequalities of human existence, and free societies allow for the full expression of that diversity. "We are all different, inequalities are the natural result of living in a free society. Whether through luck, skill, or determination, some people will always succeed more than others. And others will fail. As long as no one’s rights are being denied, inequalities are perfectly normal and desirable expressions of natural diversity." ("Not All Equality is Equal: What Does Equality Mean?" The Daily Signal)
Where will this pursuit of radical equality lead?
Thomas Jefferson described the effect of abandoning the foundational commitment to equality under the law for the protection of God-given natural rights in this way:
"Though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression… And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions.” (“Thomas Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address,” Thomas Jefferson, March 4, 1801)
Prophetic words when you observe were social justice has lead us today. The PC culture has been the outgrowth of these philosophies on equality, and there are no better words to describe that culture then as one of "political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions." As Americans turn away from the sure foundations of equality under the law, and sanction the use of law to alter the natural conditions of mortality, the greatest misery and mischief will follow. The equal protection of our God-given natural rights is already been significantly weakened because of the radical equality of social justice and we are seeing the fulfillment of Thomas Jefferson's warning. What began as a movement to ensure the protection of the natural rights of the minority, will end with the loss of all natural rights.