When the framers of our American constitution first gathered, they faced a fundamental question. The question was not merely,
Can we create a free republic? The question was,
Can we create a free republic that will remain free? Those men knew their history, and they knew that history was against them. The first step in gaining freedom was past—it was the American Revolution. They had step two before them—writing a constitution. But the biggest challenge lay beyond their horizon—sustaining freedom. And law is not enough to sustain it.
We believe in the rule of law in this country. It is carefully drawn as a distinction from the rule of a king. What we haven’t really considered is that the law can become just as tyrannical as a king. How does it happen? Well, just look at how the courts are interpreting the law nowadays. We are no longer being governed by all the people, but by the law as interpreted by a few judges. And what is guiding the judges—the constitution, or the customs of the time? According to Os Guinness:
[The framers] knew their history in a way many modern political leaders to their shame don’t. If you have a corruption of customs […] the Constitution itself will be subverted. People will follow the same laws, but with a different rationale, and you’ll see a steady decline. What was the Framers’ solution to this? Many people think it’s the Constitution and law. It isn’t. That’s only half the answer. The other half is quite clear and incredibly overlooked today, even among scholars. It’s what I call theLittle Triangle of Assumptions.