The Trump/Carson/Fiorina phenomenon explained

If you're an outspoken, Jesus-loving, gun-toting, Confederate-flag-bumper-sticker-having American, thank the Bill of Rights. If you're an atheist, protest-attending political activist who owns a Che Guevara t-shirt and sympathy tweets the Black Lives Matter hashtag, you can thank the Bill of Rights, too.

If you're a politician who seeks to control the citizenry, hate the Bill of Rights. Hate it with a vengeance.

After the Christmas party attack in San Bernardino, Calif., last week, Democratic presidential candidates Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: Centrists change tone of Democratic race In 2020, democracy will be decided at the margins Michelle Obama presents Lin-Manuel Miranda with National Portrait Award MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersRahm Emanuel: Bloomberg, Patrick entering race will allow Democrats to have 'ideas primary' Feehery: Pivoting to infrastructure could help heal post-impeachment wounds Jayapal hits back at Biden on marijuana 'prohibition' MORE (I-Vt.) couldn’t wait to blame freedom. Both of them tweeted more blame directed at the Second Amendment than at the terrorists.


But it goes both ways. Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioMcConnell urges Trump to voice support for Hong Kong protesters GOP senator introduces bill to limit flow of US data to China GOP senators plan to tune out impeachment week MORE (R-Fla.) also thought he saw freedom at the scene of the crime aiding and abetting the terrorists. "At least two of my colleagues in the Senate aspiring to the presidency, Sen. Cruz in particular," Rubio stated, "have voted to weaken the U.S. intelligence programs just in the last month-and-a-half."

Actually, Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Stopgap spending bill includes military pay raise | Schumer presses Pentagon to protect impeachment witnesses | US ends civil-nuclear waiver in Iran Cruz, Graham and Cheney call on Trump to end all nuclear waivers for Iran Pompeo: US ending sanctions waiver for site where Iran resumed uranium enrichment MORE (R-Texas) voted to protect our Fourth Amendment rights.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch — not wanting to let a good freedom grab go to waste — pointed out what looked to her like a glaring First Amendment flaw, saying her "greatest fear" is the "incredibly disturbing rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric."

So, in the end, members of our political elite have determined that the biggest problems facing this nation are the First, Second, and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution. What a coincidence! Those three constitutional amendments happen to be the only three which contain the phrase "the right of the people." They are also the three amendments most constantly under attack by politicians because they're policy roadblocks — great big signs that read "Do not feed the leviathan."

Don't fool yourself into thinking this is a matter of Republicans vs. Democrats. It's not. It's the politicians vs. the people, and the politicians seize upon the people's most fearful moments. Every time there's a tragedy, politicians scream, "The country's going down! There's too much weight. Quick, toss out the Bill of Rights!" Then, the frightened oblige.

Those who support Republican political outsiders Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpMost Americans break with Trump on Ukraine, but just 45 percent think he should be removed: poll Judge orders Democrats to give notice if they request Trump's NY tax returns Trump's doctor issues letter addressing 'speculation' about visit to Walter Reed MORE, Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonTrump launches effort to boost support among black voters Zoning is not the answer to all our housing problems Freer housing is 'fairer housing' — HUD should tie funding to looser zoning MORE or Carly Fiorina aren't know-nothings; they're flat-out tired of career politicians — of what Abraham Lincoln called "the voracious desire for office." A desire much more destructive to this country than any civil liberty.

The Anti-Federalist writer, known to us simply as "Brutus," wrote Anti-Federalist Paper No. 84 on an issue upon which he had noticed "an entire silence." Why did this document which would soon become the supreme law of the land have a Bill of Rights-shaped hole in it? It might be a good idea, Brutus thought, to expressly guarantee the rights of the people. After all, "Those who have governed, have been found in all ages ever active to enlarge their powers and abridge the public liberty. This has induced the people in all countries, where any sense of freedom remained, to fix barriers against the encroachments of their rulers."

Today, there seems to be a consensus among many of our rulers that the people are too free, and our freedoms are causing unmanageable chaos. Well, here's some bad news wrapped in a little history lesson. Without the Bill of Rights, there would have been no ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Without the Bill of Rights, there would be no United States of America. The Bill of Rights was the compromise, and the people are not willing to renegotiate. So, dear rulers, if you encounter a policy roadblock, kindly take a detour and never forget that the rattlesnake you mustn't tread on has always represented the American people. As Benjamin Franklin put it:

I recollected that her eye excelled in brightness, that of any other animal, and that she has no eye-lids. She may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance. She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage. As if anxious to prevent all pretensions of quarreling with her, the weapons with which nature has furnished her, she conceals in the roof of her mouth, so that, to those who are unacquainted with her, she appears to be a most defenseless animal; and even when those weapons are shown and extended for her defense, they appear weak and contemptible; but their wounds however small, are decisive and fatal: Conscious of this, she never wounds till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her. Was I wrong, Sir, in thinking this a strong picture of the temper and conduct of America?

Those who aren't creative enough to solve America's problems without trampling on the Bill of Rights do not belong in office. Period.

Zipperer is assistant professor of political science at Georgia Military College.