A July the Fourth appreciation of the genius ofthe Declaration of Independence:
The assumption of natural rights expressed in the Declaration of Independence can be summed up by the following proposition: “first comes rights, then comes government.” According to this view: (1) the rights of individuals do not originate with any government, but preexist its formation; (2) The protection of these rights is the first duty of government; and (3) Even after government is formed, these rights provide a standard by which its performance is measured and, in extreme cases, its systemic failure to protect rights — or its systematice violation of rights — can justify its alteration or abolition; (4) At least some of these rights are so fundamental that they are “inalienable,” meaning they are so intimately connected to one’s nature as a human being that they cannot be transferred to another even if one consents to do so. This is powerful stuff.
That's from Randy Barnett's "The Declaration of Independence Annotated." He's a lawyer of libertarian bent and, unlike President Obama, a real constitutional scholar. If he never does anything else, he should be revered for being the intellectual leader of the anti-Obamacare movement on the grounds that an individual mandate is an outrageous usurpation of citizen prerogatives.
Rights inhere in the individual. That's the single most powerful political idea in the history of the world, and too many Americans forget or prefer to ignore the fact that this nation was founded on that idea. As Barnett so eloquently reminds us, governments exist chiefly to protect our rights, not to confer them:
What are “unalienable,” or more commonly, “inalienable rights”? Inalienable rights are those you cannot give up even if you want to and consent. Unlike other alienable rights that you can consent to transfer or waive. Why inalienable rights? The Founders want to counter England’s claim that by accepting the colonial governance, the colonists had alienated their rights. The Framers claimed that with inalienable rights, you always retain the ability to take back any right that has been given up.
Inalienable. That's your word for the day. Never let the bastards think you've forgotten it.