That title comes from the Old Testament book of Leviticus. It is also the inscription across the rim of the Liberty Bell. On this Election Day, it is important to remember that more than two centuries ago, Our nation became the first in human history to be created on the basis of the protection of personal liberty that was a part of every being’s created nature. Up until then, nations were built on the premise that a government was first established by right of some authority, and that the established government then ordained what the rights of the people would be. No matter how bold a statement of liberty is made based upon that premise, the foundation of the liberty depends upon the endowment of the government.
America was distinct then and remains so in the world because this nation first made a statement of faith upon which our liberty was established, and our freedom from British tyranny was won. That Declaration clearly proclaimed that the rights of the individual did not descend from government but were granted by God and were a part of our being. The idea that rights were bestowed on all equally by an omnipotent Creator was a bold assertion. Based on that premise, no government could ever again be allowed to dictate to citizens what they could say, where they could live, what they must purchase, and how or even if they must worship. Since the government did not create the people, but the people the government, the basis for and direction of authority would be different here.
Every Constitution in existence today still mimics the old pattern of established government deciding on the distribution of liberty and responsibility to the people. Only in America do the first three words of our Constitution state the source of government is the people. It is the people who are the government, and it is the people who will decide what the government shall do and what the government shall not do. On this the Constitution is clear, and people representing both political parties agree on that fact. While one party insists that this foundation is liberating for the citizen, the other complains that it is restrictive of government solutions to problems. Both of the parties on this point are correct.
This nation faces formidable problems and difficult choices in the days ahead; but rather than sit back and wait for some government to address these issues, it is on this day that We the People get to decide who will exercise our authority and address our concerns. We the people are the government. We are the power. We are the proclaimers of Liberty. Today, we let our voice be heard. Today we determine the future of our nation. Today, we proclaim liberty across the land to all the inhabitants thereof.