Government doesn’t get to just decide how much power it has. It must be limited to the “rule of law.”

Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Brittany: Hi, Emma.

Emma: Hi, Brittany.

Brittany: So, today I wanna talk about something that is so important. I think it might be actually one of the most important, you know, ideals of how our nation is set up, and that’s the rule of law. So let’s jump right in. So first, let’s talk about dissecting what this is. So when we hear the term, or sorry, the word rule in this term, it means like to rule over someone, right? So like a political leader, a king ruling over someone. So rule of law means that a person doesn’t rule, right? Like, like a king, but instead the law tells people what to do. So the law is in charge, not a person. And, you know, before America changed the world by putting these classical liberal doctrines in place, which you’ve talked about again, that’s, you know, limited government and individualism. Kings used to rule without limits. And there was even a concept that they called the divine right of kings. Now divine means like God, like something else. like something in heaven. And so this meant that kings believed they were like anointed or chosen by God to rule over everything. So they used this to say that anything we do is just because we we’re the kings. And therefore, you know, we have basically God was like, Hey, you’re good. Like, do everything you want. Like you’re fine. I’ll give you pass. You’re right. So, but, this literally let them do anything they wanted. And that got us into a lot of trouble. In fact, you know, that’s how tyrants were created all throughout history. And for most, probably for most of history, this is how it was done. So a lot of people wrote about the rule of law. So this isn’t, this wasn’t something that just began with America. In fact, you know, people think to back to the ancient philosopher Aristotle, and he wrote It is more proper that law should govern than any one of the citizens. And this means that law should be what tells leaders what they can do. Again, not one person. And John Locke, who we’ve talked about before, John Locke was very important to the founding of our country. And he had that great essay called the Second Treatise on Government. Which really set out pretty much like everything America was founded on. But, so he talked about, you know, he had had enough with the vine, right, of kings. He saw it all through his history. And so he said, here’s half a quote from him. The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but to have only the law of nature for his rule. So I’m gonna dissect this a little bit. So natural liberty, that means, you know, every single one of us is born free. We are born free. And so we are really only accountable to God. If you believe in God, some people don’t, but if you don’t believe in God, then you’re just free. Right? You are not, bound by a person here on, on earth. That’s a politician. So that’s why he says power on Earth, right? Cuz there was that huge, you know, the divine right of the king. So heaven says that kings are great and they’re not. So, and then legislative authority means people who make the laws right. You are not subject. You don’t only have to live under whatever the people who make laws say. So the law of nature is that this life, liberty, and, and property thing, right? We all are born with these certain rights that are inalienable that only God gave us that no person gave us. So he’s talking about the same thing that the leaders have to, to follow the rule of law because people are naturally free. So they need as little rules as possible, really. So, Emma, what is an example of the law when we talk about like they have to live by the rule of law. What is that? What is this law that determines what leaders can do?

Emma: Yeah. The first one that comes to mind in America is the Constitution, which is this huge document that the founding fathers argued over. They talked about all sorts of stuff to put in there, but they ultimately came up with this document that laid out what our government can and can’t do. And they mostly talked about what the government can’t do and what it can’t do to us, the things that it can’t take away from us, and what our rights are. Because before that Constitution and before the Declaration of Independence, there weren’t really any countries where the rulers reported to the citizens. Brittany’s talked earlier in this podcast about how people would basically think, well, God put me in power so I can do whatever I want, and there are no rules for me. But our Constitution actually said, well, our rights come from God and you are accountable to our natural rights and not just to whatever you wanna do. So our declaration and Constitution are not rules for people, they’re rules for government. And Bastiat basically said that a government shouldn’t be able to do anything that an individual can’t do, which is a great quote. But man, we are so far off from that today, because our government is able to do all kinds of things that we can’t do. So there’s it can take our money away from us if you just went up to someone and held them at gunpoint and said, give me 30% of your income, or I’m throwing you in jail, and if you won’t go to jail, I’m just gonna shoot you. That’s all the government does with taxes. It’s tax season right now, and everyone’s figuring out how they’re gonna pay their taxes and what that’s gonna look like. And that’s just one example out of so many, the government can send people off to foreign wars and get them into conflicts and even have them killed, for things that they didn’t consent to. And if we were to do that to our neighbors, we would be in tons of trouble and rightfully so. So there’s just a couple we could go on and on all day about how many examples of that we’ve seen with our government.

Brittany: I think you’re so right. And I mean, we’re seeing that so much during COVID, right? Imagine. Well, and I guess your neighbors do try to make you wear a mask. Now there’s a lot of people out there, like Karen’s as they call them, right, who are like, wear a mask, you’re gonna kill me. But you know, the government determining that you have to do that, airports are the worst and airplanes are the worst because those aren’t gonna lift anytime soon though. Texas is actually suing the, what is it? FAA, what is the federal? Right. FAA I hear. Yeah. FAA, yeah, whatever. Do your own, do you, that homework assignment for you, do you agency the controls air travel? Texas is suing them to basically say like, let’s be done with the mask. Because right now, like if you, I don’t think it’s a felony, but it’s like a misdemeanor , if you go into an airport or an airplane without wearing masks, and actually, and I’m not saying violence or getting mad at people or ever the answer, but there’s been a rise in airport, like, unruly. So like passengers being a little inappropriate on flights. And a lot of that is because they’re just, they’re fed up, you know, people are getting yelled at for taking their mask down and like eating something without putting the mask back up. Yeah. It’s just so silly. So this is perhaps what I guess said earlier, the most important aspects of, and I always like to call it a more perfect government, because remember, our government is far from perfect, and our constitution is actually very far from perfect. Right? Because it was written by imperfect people. Were all imperfect. But this is so important because it sets the scope of government. So I had an amazing constitutional law professor when I was in college in Utah, who was, honestly, he really set my love and passion for this and he used to always tell us the role defines the scope. So I’m gonna explain what that means. So our constitution has that separation of powers we’ve talked about before, and that basically says, all right, there’s executive judicial and legislative, and each one of you has very specific things you’re allowed to do and you really can’t do anything that isn’t one of those. But then they put in the checks and balance, which said like, okay, but if someone uses their designated their very specific role to do something that you don’t like, or that might be questionable that other agencies, or sorry, other branches can, you know, say, wait for a second, let’s reevaluate this. They can use those checks and balances. So that’s really important to all this because once you say what each branch of government can do that says how big it’s going to be, right? That’s going to define what they’re allowed to do and how big they can be. So the rule of law is supposed to keep that very small and limited. That’s what stops authoritarianism. That was the whole point of this, right? The colonists had lived under the king for so long and they did not want that to happen. And you know what, A lot of countries don’t have this. So, and I wanted you to see if you could maybe talk about a couple of the countries that we see that don’t have this. You know, rule of law and it gets very scary.

Emma: Yeah. The one that comes to mind immediately is North Korea. And I think we’ve talked briefly about North Korea before, but basically, this is a country where it’s a dictatorship. And it started out as communism, so great warning against communism. But this is a dictatorship where, Kim Jong-un, who was I think his dad was one of the original rulers of North Korea, and it was passed down to him through just his family, which is crazy cause you don’t see that very much anymore. And he basically thinks that he is a god or that he’s God to the people in his country. And he basically has all of these programs to brainwash people into thinking that, you know, he is this supreme ruler. If they defy him or if they disagree with him, then they are a bad person. And they actually also try to convince their citizens that everywhere else in the world is worse than North Korea. So they don’t try to escape, which is crazy. and China is a country that I think is really on its way to that right now where they are taking away people’s rights. They shut down whole portions of the internet. I learned this recently. They have a quota of American movies that they allow in their country every year.

Brittany: And then they’re edited heavily, right?

Emma: They’re Super edited. So anything that’s pro-America or pro-freedom has to be taken out. And I believe it’s only a hundred movies, correct me if I’m wrong, Brittany, if you happen to know, but I learned that recently. And a lot of movies will actually like self-censor what they put in them because they want China to allow them in there because it’s a huge market. Yeah. I’m getting off on this tangent, but No, that’s fine. China is another country that really heavily controls things and people answer to the government in a country like China. They do what the government wants. There’s no accountability, there’s no bill of rights. The government tells people what to do. And that’s why, you know, we get so obsessed on this podcast and with Tuttle twin stuff, with stopping the government from overreaching into our lives because it’s so hard. Once the government takes that power away from the citizens, it’s so hard, if not impossible, to get it back. So that’s one of the reasons why we’re always talking about this stuff, is because the rule of law and the way the law works and the accountability from the law is so important to keeping our lives free and prosperous.

Brittany: You’re absolutely right. And you know, the government does need to follow the rule of law that is something that they’re literally constitutionally bound to do. But it is our job to keep them in check. And a lot of us have done a good job of this. And I think right now, looking at the, you’ll hear this a couple of weeks later, but the, you know, Canadian truckers are doing a really good job of trying to keep their government in check, but we really dropped the ball during the pandemic. And I’m saying we, not to me and our listeners, and maybe you and I, Emma, because I think we we’re all kind of on the same page in this, but we should have been telling our government from the get-go, no, we’re not gonna do this. And I know a lot of people, even people who believe in limited government, we were all very scared in the beginning. Cause we didn’t know what was going to happen. But we very, very quickly, that’s what scared me. We so quickly gave away our rights. And now two years later, we’re having a hard time getting them back and the government keeps trying to put out research that basically says, or tell us like, oh, it’s not over yet. You know, let’s keep doing all these things. Let’s wear masks. In fact, DC just lifted where I live, its mask and vaccine mandate. And there was one council lady who tried to reinstate it and was saying, a lot of, you know, you’re killing people. And it’s funny, even people who were very pro this stuff, in the beginning are now saying no. And so she had to withdraw her complaint because she’s like, all right, I got a lot of pushback from this, so people are sick of it. Wow. But you know, we should have kept them in check from the beginning. And, you know, we were not great about that. So I think it’s really important because this isn’t just something we’ve seen in years past. This is something we’re dealing with right now. So I think it’s very important for us to remember that we are in charge of keeping the government in check.

Emma: Absolutely. Yes. And just sort of in closing, you know, we have to be vigilant and we have to know what’s going on to keep the government in check. So it’s another great reminder that we should always be, you know, watching for what’s going on in the world, not necessarily trusting the news. That’s not what I’m saying because a lot of times they are telling us complete lies as well. So try to look for trusted sources of information and keep up with what’s going on and stay informed because the government will have a lot easier of a time to take our rights away if all of us have no clue what’s going on, or we just don’t care. So we’ll wrap it up here today, guys. Thank you for listening and Brittany, I will talk with you soon and we will talk to you guys all again soon.

Brittany: Talk to you soon.