Many people have been justifiably derisive of President Obama's recent statements that we need not fear government because "government is us," and we don't need to worry about him, either, because he is "constrained" by the system put in place by the Founders.
Here's what's wrong with those statements:
As a lawprof, I read that to mean that he is not constrained. He's juggling a few ideas, but what he's getting at is: The Founders put into place a system that would be populated by elected officials, who are to act for the sake of the people and as the people want. If what the people want our government to do is control guns, then it is within the power of government to do it.
That's the constitutional argument he has in mind. It's an idea of constitutional government as a political system, within which rights are only another manifestation of what the people want. And, in the ultimate scary twist on the idea of rights: Government is not to be regarded as in need of limits, because the government is us. Anything we — the government — want to do is never tyranny, but freedom.
He completely turns on its head the whole point of the Constitution, which is that government must be limited to those few things spelled out for it to do in order to protect our liberty. The Constitution is about carefully parceling out power, not letting one person or a handful accumulate a lot of it.