We Exercise Public Powers to Protect our Sovereignty

Excerpt* from American Popular Sovereignty @2019 by Randall E. White.

“Sovereignty is when you make one phone call and a thousand people show up to protect you.” —David Callihan [1]

The principle that people have the right to govern themselves is not merely an academic doctrine, but is a practical matter rooted in reality. We either exercise it and protect it, or we lose it to others who will gladly seize the opportunity to govern us for their benefit.

Prior to 1776, the American colonists had been governing themselves on the local level for over 100 years. These colonists were politically organized from the bottom-up on the local level as well-regulated public militias.

In this context, the term “politically organized” means that the colonists acted together collectively in their public capacity as a sovereign body politic, to formally and lawfully establish government on the local level by written public charter. Through these public charters, each community established its own local public militia.

A militia is a type of military organization that serves only when called upon, as opposed to a standing army, which is a permanent professional military force maintained by a country in times of peace as well as war.

The term “well-regulated” means to be efficiently ordered by legislative (state) statute in all aspects of governance so that the militia members were militarily trained, armed and accoutered. Militarily trained means that they were trained in the art of war, including how to fight in combat. Armed means that they had the best firearm weapons available. Accoutered means that they were equipped and clothed militarily.

THIS is the meaning of a “well regulated militia:”

These local public militias exercised the public power of protection. Their job was to protect every member of their community and every aspect of their government. They were the colonists’ local “homeland security”. Their role was primarily defensive and preventative protection, which included gathering information for the purpose of preventing crime, sedition, insurrection or treason, in addition to serving as the “eyes and ears” in the community for the sheriff and the grand jury.

The local public militias were effective in their job of protecting their community members, even when off duty, in part because their numbers were significantly larger than the local sheriff and sheriff’s deputies or other law enforcement, together with the fact that they were typically dispersed throughout their communities, in contrast to civil law enforcement officers, who cannot be everywhere in a community at once.

Due to both their training and their numbers, off-duty public militia members were highly effective in preventing social tragedy in their communities caused by mentally ill or socially maladjusted people such as child molesters and rapists, or those consumed by hate, for whatever reason.

The fact that the American colonists were politically organized as well-regulated public militias is probably the main reason why our Declaration of Independence could legitimately recognize the colonists as sovereign. How the colonists were politically organized is also why they were both politically and militarily strong enough to defeat the mighty state of Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), and why these colonists were able to successfully settle America while at times being in competition with the indigenous tribes and French and Spanish settlers.

One day when my friend David Callihan was explaining to me the role that local public militias played in American government during the 1700s, our conversation briefly turned to several instances we knew of where a rogue Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agent had brought sixteen or seventeen Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agents dressed in special weapons and tactics (SWAT) gear to a non-violent individual’s home or business, in the guise of seeking “books and records in support of a tax bill due and owing”. In each instance, the object of the unnecessary public display of force was to intimidate or embarrass the individual while the rogue IRS agent was conducting an unconstitutional collections action under color of law. Color of law refers to an appearance of legal power to act, when in reality no such right exists.

In this context, David gave me the following illustration. He said in reference to the unconstitutional IRS practice of misusing ATF SWAT teams to harass law-abiding citizens, that,

“Sovereignty is when you make one phone call and a thousand people show up to protect you.”

It was in that moment I first began to understand from a historical perspective the kind and quality of security that American colonial society knew and enjoyed due to the way they were “politically organized” as local public militias. David’s statement had a dramatic effect on me, which I will always remember.

[1] David Callihan mentored the author in American colonial government, including most of the terms and concepts presented in this chapter.

*Re-posting permission given by the author.

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