Constitutions Teach Balance - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Constitutions Teach Balance

“To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under Heaven.” Those words of King Solomon I first heard as sung by the Byrds on Top Forty AM radio. But those words give voice to a principle that appears not only in the Bible and in rock and roll, but all along in human civilization, from ancient times until today.

There is a principle of balance, of a pattern of stability through change, that is pointed to and taught by Aristotle, Maimonides, Lao Tzu, and many other sages through the ages. It is a conception vital for civilization’s efforts to find the balance between creativity and order.

Constitutions teach balance.

The pioneers of constitutional thinking trusted the peoples’ ability to keep faith with each other. For life is made of an intricate web of faith-keeping, something we all experience each day in our families, in our work, and in our marketplaces. We know how to negotiate, how best to mesh with each other, in all the practical ways that we do in life.

We need government not to teach us how to balance, because we know that on our own. We need government to protect the space in which we lead our lives, so that we are not pushed down by forces that are greater than what private responses could balance out.

Government by the consent of the governed has to negotiate some rough seas. We need to have a sailor’s walk so each new wave doesn’t throw us. There will be troughs but there will be peaks.

Tuesday’s elections confirm this.

The people as a whole are not ideologues. They are leery of the people in power messing up their lives. They are willing to try something else to get away from what they know now by experience is no good. They are turning from the chaos and the incompetence of the radical left, the promises of a socialist dream no longer concealing the realities of a paranoid state. The reality of an off-balance state, spreading its dizziness and reaching deep into what the people still believe is their life in which they know government just does not belong and should have no business.

The people kept their balance. Maybe we despaired, after the hammer-blows of the past year. Maybe we underestimated the people. Maybe we didn’t have the patience that wisdom brings.

Don’t give up on the people. Lincoln is the model. When things are going poorly, lean into the people, feel their balance and let them feel you with them, working together to get through the trough, all of us keeping balance together on the pitching deck of the ship.


Our Constitution not only depends on the balance of the people themselves, the sovereigns of our republic, but it designed the structure of the people’s government to work through balance. The national government, where the most power is concentrated, must work through the ever-adjusting balance between its branches. The House is meant to reflect most closely the changing feelings of the people, with the other branches in various degrees meant to be free to take a longer view, and allow their strategies to mature rather than be compelled always to produce immediate results.

For more than a hundred years, the progressive program has been to substitute what they believe to be their unique expertise for the balance of the people and their Constitution. Believing themselves to be more rational and scientific, and thus not in need of any balance by people whom they believe are less competent, they have tried to concentrate ever more power in the Executive Branch. After a hundred years of their reworking, the Executive not only enforces the laws made by the House and Senate, but does the actual legislative work of rule-writing — the laws under which we actually live. As well, through administrative law courts, the Executive completes the trifecta, and judges us as well on our compliance with the laws it wrote and which it enforces.

But in the end, as the people find out again and again when they are seduced by utopia-now visions, they find out again that utopia is, as the name actually means, no-place. The people realize they are riding a wave, and make the readjustment themselves.

The idea of balance has strong roots in the ancient traditions that have shaped our civilization in the West, as well as in great civilizations elsewhere. It represents our grasp of the fundamental, ordering principles of life. It is not an intoxicating utopian froth, but an accurate reflection of the reality of our lives that we can observe at work in ourselves every single day.

The people may have drunk too much of the brew, and so woke, dizzy, and with a hangover. They know how to remedy it, though, as they showed.

Our republic has its sea-legs. The ship of state’s course is being corrected. Keep the lamps trimmed and burning as we correct our course and move forward together, still a whole. We are weathering the storm.

Sign Up to Receive Our Latest Updates! Register

Be a Free Market Loving Patriot. Subscribe Today!