Beginning with the now-iconic phrase "Four score and seven years ago," referring to the Declaration of Independence during the American Revolution in 1776, Lincoln examined the founding principles of the United States in the context of the Civil War, and memorialized the sacrifices of those who gave their lives at Gettysburg and extolled virtues for the listeners (and the nation) to ensure the survival of America's representative democracy, that the "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."Meade took out the "the" before that last quote. Have you ever noticed that there's no "the" before "government" (even as there is a "the" before each of the 3 "people"s)?
... we here highly resolve... that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.Do you see what a big difference a "the" would make in that sentence? Meade had gotten into a back-and-forth over at the Isthmus forum (a site dominated by typical Madisonians, i.e., left/liberals).
The topic was the 2d amendment and, more generally, what rights are. Responding to TheBookPolice who'd asserted that rights are "100% about the government telling people what they can and can't do," Meade said:
Thank you but you have that exactly backwards, TheBookPolice. Check your high school Civics textbook. The amendments in the Bill of Rights are all about protecting the people from the power of the government. I know that concept can be a little difficult for Liberals and Progressives to grasp, seeing as how they begin with a fundamental utopian assumption in government we trust. But government - even a democracy - can become corrupt, coercive, authoritarian, and tyrannical. So if you look at the text of, say, the 2nd amendment, you'll see that it is addressing the government, not the people. The people's right shall not be infringed. Infringed by the people? No, of course not. The right shall not be infringed by the government. Take a closer look at the entire "Bill of Rights" and I think you will see that the first ten amendments to the constitution are completely about restricting government from infringing the people's rights.TheBookPolice dragged in the Gettysburg Address:
Abraham Lincoln described the government of the United States as being "of the people, for the people, and by the people." Sounds to me like we're all in this together. You on the other hand seem to treat the government as a panther stalking the outskirts of your jungle village, waiting for the opportunity to snatch a wandering child unawares.And Meade came up with this "the" point, which I'd never thought about before:
Tell me: who makes up the government you fear so much?
That's just it, Police -- I don't fear the government at all. Thanks to the constitution. And thanks, in particular, to the first ten amendments.Lincoln was not talking about preserving the entity that is The Government, that might overstep its bounds and oppress us. He was talking about preserving government by the people, that is, preserving democracy. Or that's how it's sunk in for me.
Now take a closer look at the text of the Lincoln speech you alluded to. Notice: he does not put the article, "the" before "government" and yet he uses it each of the three times he repeats "people".
Let that sink in for a minute.