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Author Archives: Jon Locke Jr.

About Jon Locke Jr.

Citizen Statesman.

Constitutions To Go – epub e-books

Thomas Jefferson, for one, believed that the only safe repository for democracy was an enlightened (educated) voter, combined with wise and honest officials. He believed that citizens needed “to know his rights; to exercize with order and justice those he retains; to choose with discretion the fiduciary of those he delegates; and to notice their conduct with diligence, with candor, and judgment;”

Citizenship means far more than having a piece of paper proving you are a citizen. The single most important obligation a citizen has to this country is that of exercising the Franchise with fidelity to the Constitution and “The Great Experiment”, for the good of ourselves and our Posterity.

I shudder to think how many people do not know what “The Great Experiment” is, or that they play a role in its continuation or its demise.

What to do? Get to know your Constitution, including your State constitution.

In the course of researching laws and legislation, I discovered that there are considerable differences in how the states present their constitutions online. Most are published by the state, some states outsource the job. They might be web pages, PDFs, or even Word documents. Some are searchable or downloadable, others are neither.

There is also a distinct lack of consistency in structure and formatting and even detail. That makes it very difficult to compare them.

I am in the process of converting the state constitutions into epub format. A format that can be carried in a smartphone or tablet.

My first book is The Constitution of the United States, including the Amendments, and the Declaration of Independence thrown in for good measure. It is formatted for ease of reading and reference, is searchable, and has a handy Table of Contents. Download a copy to take with you, so you always have it handy for reference.

I have set up a folder on Google Drive to put them in, as I finish them.

Short Link to this post

3/07/2017 Update: I have updated the reference-formatted version of the US Constitution, and added a traditionally formatted version.

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2016 in ePUB, ePUB Constitutions

 

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We The 21st Century People: to Ordain and Establish

“We the People”. The first and most important words of the Constitution of the United States of America. Three words, writ larger than all others. Three words that announce the foundational social contract between all the Citizens of the United States.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

At a time of royal dynasties anointed by bishops, state religion, entrenched aristocracy, and corporations with government-like powers, our forefathers sought something better for the general population of our new country.

This was, and is, the “Great Experiment”. The idea that people could govern themselves through elected representatives and rule of law. No Kings, no Popes, no Lords.

The United States Constitution is not just the instrument that defines the framework of our government, it is the basis of  the social contract that we have as citizens. It is the heart of what defines us as a nation. Government ordained and established by the citizens, for their mutual benefit.

Government is our chosen instrument for protecting our lives, our rights, our property, and our liberty. Without our Government, we fall into anarchy and become helpless to oppose the tyranny of others.

There are those who say that the Government is too big, too intrusive, too restrictive, too expensive and wasteful. That it is “in the way”. Some of their arguments are perfectly valid, some are hyperbole, some are pure fallacy, and some are deliberate misinformation. It is the responsibility of the Citizen to sort out the true from the false. If you simply embrace the opinions of others, including me, then you have failed in your civic duty to democracy.

But the labyrinth of ideologies and hidden agendas are subjects for other times. The point of this essay is to inspire the individual voters to hop off the political bandwagon and learn to navigate for yourselves. Question what you think you know. Look for evidence, not opinion.

“This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Farewell Address to the Nation

Next time someone tells you government is “the problem”, keep in mind that the Great Experiment and American Exceptionalism are based on the premise that “societies of men are really capable of establishing good government from reflection and choice” and that “Governments are instituted among {Men}, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”. Government is officially “the solution”, not “the problem”. If government seems to be “the problem”, then consider that the real problem may lie in who ultimately controls it. Who owns the attention of the elected representatives, and who controls the processes and information used to select them?

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2015 in Citizen Statesman, We The People

 

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We The 21st Century People: Introduction

An open letter to my fellow citizens of the United States of America:

Eleven score and nineteen years ago, our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all {men} are created equal.We are now engaged in a great political struggle, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, can long endure.

The divisions are many, and seem irreconcilable; Rampant extremism has made “The Aisle” a barrier to negotiation and compromise, a barrier to the republican form of government promised by the Constitution. A canyon that threatens the country that so many have fought, struggled, and died to build and preserve.

This is how the Founders wrote (plus a bit of Honest Abe), and I have paraphrased them here to bring the mind of the reader back to the time of Enlightenment and the founding of the country. Now is the time for us to remember our origins and the thinking behind it: “The Great Experiment”. The Framers were familiar with the workings of government, especially the capacity for injustice and oppression when the few hold overwhelming power over the many. Sadly, few currently give the matter its due contemplation; accepting policies that may seem proper to them without exploring the truth or the consequences thereof.

In this moment, the wrong questions are being asked. Instead of listening to the propaganda of power-seekers and cronies, one must develop one’s own philosophy of what “a more perfect Union” consists of.

Thomas Jefferson believed that:

“In every government on earth is some trace of human weakness, some germ of corruption and degeneracy, which cunning will discover, and wickedness insensibly open, cultivate, and improve. Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves therefore are its only safe depositories. And to render even them safe their minds must be improved to a certain degree. This indeed is not all that is necessary, though it be essentially necessary. An amendment of our constitution must here come in aid of the public education. The influence over government must be shared among all the people. If every individual which composes their mass participates of the ultimate authority, the government will be safe; because the corrupting the whole mass will exceed any private resources of wealth: and public ones cannot be provided but by levies on the people. In this case every man would have to pay his own price. The government of Great-Britain has been corrupted, because but one man in ten has a right to vote for members of parliament. The sellers of the government therefore get nine-tenths of their price clear. It has been thought that corruption is restrained by confining the right of suffrage to a few of the wealthier of the people: but it would be more effectually restrained by an extension of that right to such numbers as would bid defiance to the means of corruption.”

Unfortunately, the present distribution of wealth, coupled with its permitted application to the arts and edifices of politics, does indeed allow for mass corruption to a degree that actively supports the degeneration and corruption of government.

The first act of the Responsible Citizens who seeks to defend Liberty must be to Enlighten (educate) themselves on the fundamental principles of government. Recognition of the significance of the study of political science has faded from the public square in spite of its importance to liberty and the maintenance of good government. Some have even sought to undermine the teaching of political science. By doing so, they act to suppress independent and educated understanding of what a good government could and should be, as well as undermining democracy as a viable regulator of government.

AFTER an unequivocal experience of the inefficiency of the subsisting federal government, you are called upon to deliberate on a new Constitution for the United States of America. The subject speaks its own importance; comprehending in its consequences nothing less than the existence of the UNION, the safety and welfare of the parts of which it is composed, the fate of an empire in many respects the most interesting in the world. It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force. If there be any truth in the remark, the crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a wrong election of the part we shall act may, in this view, deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind.
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist Papers (1)

The Federalist Papers were written to the people of the United States to explain the new Constitution and make the case for its ratification.

To judge from the conduct of the opposite parties, we shall be led to conclude that they will mutually hope to evince the justness of their opinions, and to increase the number of their converts by the loudness of their declamations and the bitterness of their invectives. An enlightened zeal for the energy and efficiency of government will be stigmatized as the offspring of a temper fond of despotic power and hostile to the principles of liberty. An over-scrupulous jealousy of danger to the rights of the people, which is more commonly the fault of the head than of the heart, will be represented as mere pretense and artifice, the stale bait for popularity at the expense of the public good. It will be forgotten, on the one hand, that jealousy is the usual concomitant of love, and that the noble enthusiasm of liberty is apt to be infected with a spirit of narrow and illiberal distrust. On the other hand, it will be equally forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; that, in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed judgment, their interest can never be separated; and that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.

More than 200 years old, yet disturbingly relevant today.

Footnotes:

  • The “subsisting federal government” refers to the central government under the Articles of Confederation, which proved too weak to be effective.
  • The idea that societies of {men} are capable of establishing good government from reflection and choice, free of the dictates of kings and bishops and entrenched aristocracy, is referred to as “The Great Experiment”. It, coupled with the principle of “rule of law”, was the foundation on which the Framers based our Constitution, and our Nation.
 
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Posted by on January 26, 2015 in Citizen Statesman

 

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The Quest for American Exceptionalism

Photograph of a sketch of the French author an...

Alexis de Tocqueville

These days, when someone hears “American Exceptionalism“, they think of some form of national superiority. This is a popular but dangerous appeal to pride. An excess of pride leads to arrogance and complacency. This is not, however, the original meaning of the expression.The phrase was taken from comments by a Frenchman named Alexis de Tocqueville, who observed that we enjoyed the advantages of an Old World country without the disadvantages, that we were in the unprecedented position of starting as a modern (at the time) industrial and agricultural country without having to build our way up to it. Without the problems of limited land and well-established neighboring countries. He saw us as having purged ourselves of entrenched aristocracy

In 1831-1833, he traveled through the United States, officially studying the prison system while personally studying American society. He published his observations in his book “[Of] Democracy in America”, part 1 published in 1835 and part 2 published in 1840. Chapter 9 of part 2 is where he made his reference to “American Exceptionalism”. He does not actually say “American Exceptionalism”, he states that:

“At the head of the enlightened nations of the Old World the inhabitants of the United States more particularly distinguished one, to which they were closely united by a common origin and by kindred habits. Amongst this people they found distinguished men of science, artists of skill, writers of eminence, and they were enabled to enjoy the treasures of the intellect without requiring to labor in amassing them. I cannot consent to separate America from Europe, in spite of the ocean which intervenes. I consider the people of the United States as that portion of the English people which is commissioned to explore the wilds of the New World; whilst the rest of the nation, enjoying more leisure and less harassed by the drudgery of life, may devote its energies to thought, and enlarge in all directions the empire of the mind. The position of the Americans is therefore quite exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one. Their strictly Puritanical origin—their exclusively commercial habits—even the country they inhabit, which seems to divert their minds from the pursuit of science, literature, and the arts—the proximity of Europe, which allows them to neglect these pursuits without relapsing into barbarism—a thousand special causes, of which I have only been able to point out the most important—have singularly concurred to fix the mind of the American upon purely practical objects. His passions, his wants, his education, and everything about him seem to unite in drawing the native of the United States earthward: his religion alone bids him turn, from time to time, a transient and distracted glance to heaven.”

He was clearly not referring to the achievements of Americans, but in the uniqueness of their circumstances. I say “their” instead of “our” because, like adolescence, it was a point in our history that we have outgrown.

We began as English colonies. Everyone “knows” this, but how many understand the significance? Unlike other English colonies, we did not exist as a subjugation of an indigenous people. We were a part of England transplanted into virgin wilderness. We were all one People, with a shared culture, technology, and laws.

Tocqueville noted that it is inevitable for a nation to delve into science and the arts, that it was needful for the advancement of a people. He said, in effect, that we were in the unique position of being able to import our advances in science and the arts, what he called “the pleasures of the mind”, without the need to invest a portion of our efforts in such advancement. We could devote all our energies into business and the creation of wealth.

This exceptionalism was the result of a number of factors. Tocqueville noted that their lack of cultural diversity, which concurred with an observation John Jay made in Federalist 2, was one of those factors. We are now, of course, the most culturally diverse nation in the world.

Another was our essentially parasitic approach to science and the arts. How odd it is that those who most vigorously wave the flag of exceptionalism, embracing policies that undermine the advancement of arts and sciences, also take pride in the role of leadership that we enjoy but is incompatible with those policies.

Next time someone talks about American Exceptionalism, ask them what, precisely, they mean by it.

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2011 in We The People

 

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We The People, part 2 – Origins

In Federalist 2, John Jay wrote of the land and the people of America:

“It has often given me pleasure to observe that independent America was not composed of detached and distant territories, but that one connected, fertile, widespreading country was the portion of our western sons of liberty. Providence has in a particular manner blessed it with a variety of soils and productions, and watered it with innumerable streams, for the delight and accommodation of its inhabitants. A succession of navigable waters forms a kind of chain round its borders, as if to bind it together; while the most noble rivers in the world, running at convenient distances, present them with highways for the easy communication of friendly aids, and the mutual transportation and exchange of their various commodities.

With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people–a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.

Map of U.S. territorial acquisitions

U.S. Territorial Acquisitions

It is important to note that his America was not the diverse and sprawling country that we have all grown up in. They began as British colonists, with King and state Church. It was the abuse and misuse at the hands of the Crown and the East India Company that spurred them to rebellion and independence. To be sure, there were factions that disagreed on various issues, but the country was predominantly monocultural. They populated lands left unspoiled by the native population for thousands of years.

As we expanded west, we acquired land from Native American, French, Spanish, and other sources. Through Ellis Island, we absorbed immigrants from all over Europe. Japanese and Chinese came to California. Cajuns came south, and Latin Americans came north.

The New Colossus
By Emma Lazarus, 1883

Immigrants entering the United States through ...

Ellis Island Immigrants

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

More than any other country, we have welcomed and absorbed a multitude of immigrants and the diverse cultures they brought with them. The land of “E pluribus, unum”, the great “Melting Pot” society. From St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo, to Kwanzaa, Mardi Gras, Oktoberfest, and Chinese New Year, we have assimilated culture as well as people.

Demographically, culturally, geographically, technologically, socially, economically, militarily, politically, and religiously, America has grown and changed enormously from the days of the original Thirteen Colonies.

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2011 in We The People

 

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We The People, part 1

We the People

The very first words of our Constitution, writ far larger than all others. And why not, for what is the foundation of a nation if not it’s people?

Governments rise and governments fall. Constitutions are replaced. Businesses form and last for a moment, a generation, a lifetime… but not forever. Partnerships dissolve. Businesses go bankrupt. The people remain.

It is the people who abide and endure when all else fails.

We the People, and the land we claim for our own, ARE the country.

“Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers.”

John Jay, Federalist 2

Where there is unlimited liberty, there is inevitable conflict between the competing liberties of multiple individuals. To participate in a human society, some restraint is required. Even animal communities have their rules. Humans are more complex, and need more complex rules. Society exists on the premise that more liberties can be preserved through common cause than can be preserved by the individual alone. The effectiveness of society could be measured by the degree of liberties preserved v.s. the degree of liberties ceded in their defense.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,”

Declaration of Independence.

The consent of the governed, the consent of We the People. – The fundamental restraint on the powers vested in the government. The power of government can only be Just when nothing comes between the citizens of this country and their right, their unalienable right, to exercise that restraint. To allow others to interfere with that restraint, or to exert their own restraints on our government, is to surrender to them a portion of our sovereignty and the portion of our liberties ceded to government so that it can function on our behalf.

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2011 in We The People

 

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Hello world!

“Hello World”

The inevitable first prove-you-can computer exercise.

Now that I have tinkered with the bells and whistles, and gotten the initial salutations out of the way, time to pick my first target topic.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2011 in Personal Notes

 
 
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