Common Sense: What We Are Forgetting This Election


“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right…”

So wrote Thomas Paine in a pamphlet called Common Sense, which aided the cause of American Independence with a logic and a passion that aroused public opinion to hot anger and a firm resolve to resist English tyranny.

Paine’s point is that no matter how long you have been doing a wrong thing, it is still a wrong thing.

This coming election, shouldn’t we keep in mind the numerous and continuous ways that our various governments, at all levels, violate the moral law?

For example, In Article One, Section Eight, the Constitution states that the power to declare war resides in the Congress.

The last time Congress actually voted to declare war was following the bombing of Pearl Harbor back in 1941.

Woodrow Wilcox


This means that exhausting our federal budget by sending troops to fight in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, along with the continuous rhetoric of where to send troops next for the last seventy-five years, has been unconstitutional and unlawful, and well…wrong.

These violations are not made right simply by ignoring the clear, unambiguous wording of the Constitution, the Supreme Law of the land, for seventy-five years.


There are, of course, many other examples.  Neither the Department of Education, nor the Department of Health and Human Services (which administers the Medicare and Social Security programs), nor the Environmental Protection Agency, are authorized under the Constitution, just to name just a few.

These rogue agencies of a rogue regime, are a plague on the populace. They are the cause of great strife, inefficiency, waste, and despair.

Under the American system, our state and local governments are in the best position and are duty-bound to protect us from the tyranny of this central government lawlessness.

Regrettably, our state and local governments, in most cases, are bought off from doing their duty when they accept federal grants that come with strings attached.  These “strings” usually involve the compromise of the people’s property or the people’s liberty.

While we are focusing a great deal, as we should, on the Presidential election, I fear we are incrementally losing sight of the tremendous allies we have to keep a president and a runaway court in check through our local and state government elections.

Today, we yearn for the clarity and the conviction of a Thomas Paine.

We need local leaders who will stand against the corruption of central planners dispersing bribes tempting them to betray their constituents.

For indeed, in the words of Paine himself, “These are the times that try men’s souls.”  However, “Common Sense” would lead us to exercise our self-governing muscle rather than fall into the arms of the next tyrant who will “take care of everything.”  Our next president will still be a human being with a sinful nature and will need to be held in check once his or her finger is crowned with the proverbial “ring of power.”

This election cycle, let’s not lose sight of state, local, or personal duties in the midst of voting for presidential duties and judicial appointees.

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Jake MacAulay serves as the Chief Operating Officer of the Institute on the Constitution (IOTC), an educational outreach that presents the founders’ “American View” of law and government. The former co-host of the syndicated talk show, The Sons of Liberty, he is an ordained minister and has spoken to audiences nation-wide, and has established the American Club, a constitutional study group in public and private schools.
Jake MacAulay
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  • SCIdirector

    There is much to learn from a close study of the writings of Thomas Paine. ‘Common Sense’ and even the ‘Crisis’ papers are but the tip of his contributions to the debate over what constitutes just governance. Paine learned a good deal from his association with Benjamin Franklin, who was deeply influenced by the school of French political economists (Physiocrats) that included Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemeurs, Francois Quesnay and Anne Robert Jacques Turgot. The Physiocratic influence is found in Paine’s groundbreaking essay ‘Agrarian Justice’. By any description, Paine’s proposals in that document are progressive in scope rather than libertarian or what might be construed as conservative, if by conservative one means an unqualified defense of private property regardless of how acquired. Paine embraced the Physiocratic moral principle that property comes from nature but that nature is and ought to be treated under law as societal property. As Paine argues, those who control land owe to society a ground rent payment for what is a privilege, or, as John Locke put it, a state-awarded form of economic licence.

    Edward J. Dodson, M.L.A.
    Thomas Paine Friends