‘Knowledge Is Power’: Constitutional Scholar Strives to Educate the Public and Rein in the Federal Government
Christin McMasters’ strategy for teaching about the U.S. Constitution is first to establish a foundation by answering why we have a government, and from there, why we have a constitution.
McMasters, also known as The Liberty Belle via her blog, has initiated a North Carolina-based constitutional-advocacy crusade to answer those questions in classes, speaking engagements, and informative articles that can be found on her website: thelibertybellenc.com.
For McMasters, the answer to those questions is simple, but it’s been lost under a rapidly accumulating pile of bureaucratic gobbledygook, doublespeak, and propaganda.
“We created the government to do a job for us, so they’re our employees, and we the people are their employers,” McMasters told The Epoch Times.
But without a job description, those government officials have no reason to do what their employers require of them if the employers themselves aren’t even sure of what the job is.
“The job description specifically tells our government what it can and cannot do,” McMasters said.
And this is where the U.S. Constitution enters the picture, McMasters said.
“It’s huge because, throughout world history, governments have had arbitrary power, which is power that comes from nowhere,” McMasters said. “It’s unconfined and limitless.”
But if government officials have an agreed-upon job description—and both citizens and government officials know their assigned roles—veering off a clear path into the shadow of capricious mandates, restrictions, and even lockdowns isn’t an option for the employers or the employees.
“The Constitution has nothing to do with my feelings, thoughts, or beliefs,” she said. “It has to do with the fact that we don’t want a government that can do whatever it wants. I haven’t found a Democrat or Republican who wants a government with arbitrary power.”
One of her inspirations for starting her initiative, McMasters said, was her observation that many people don’t know why they believe what they say they believe, she said.
Combine that with what she described as “the amount of very effective propaganda that’s being pushed in the academic world,” and students are left with no foundation, she said.
“I can’t blame college students for falling for everything they’re being told because it pulls on all the right emotional strings, and it seems to make sense, but the ‘whys’ are never answered still,” she said. “Many students go into these college environments and fall for everything because they don’t stand for anything.”
‘Why We Should Care’
McMasters, a self-described “millennial constitutionalist” from Charleston, South Carolina, got her doctorate in political science at the University of South Carolina, though she said she’s not the average academic.
“I actually love this country and love liberty and will fight for it at all costs,” she says on her website.
Not wishing to censor herself, McMasters chose not to reenter academia after getting her doctorate, so she teaches at a local community college while networking as The Liberty Belle, she said.
“I’m very passionate about what I do,” she said. “I want to make the Constitution relevant to all students by answering the big questions, like why they should care.”
McMasters doesn’t drape her classes with opinion as many academics tend to do, she said, because what’s most important is what the Constitution says, she said, not what she thinks.
When she speaks on national issues, she addresses them from a “purely constitutional perspective,” she said.
“I have strong feelings about things, but my fundamental goal is to confine the government to one that has to do what it’s told, not whatever it wants,” she said. “As I’ve given presentations throughout North Carolina, I’ve found that many people have genuinely never been taught some of these basic principles of the Constitution, which is why I build that foundation first.”
Getting students to drop their ideological convictions and make educated, objective arguments based not on opinion but around the parameters of the Constitution is rewarding, she said.
Threats to the Constitution
Two of the biggest threats to the U.S. Constitution, McMasters said, are ignorance and dwindling respect.
“In Charles Montesquieu’s ‘The Spirit of Laws,’ Montesquieu writes about the love of the law for a country to last,” she said.
There have been countries that took the U.S. Constitution model for their own but eventually still failed, she said.
“They end up getting overthrown in like ten years, and this has happened time and time again,” she said. “So why on earth has ours lasted so long? There’s this genuine respect people have for the document.”
Though the Constitution is violated “left and right and all over the place,” it’s done so under the pretense that it’s still being followed, she said.
“You’ll notice politicians say, ‘That’s not constitutional,’” she said. “The only reason they feel like they should say that is because they know there’s still a shred of respect in the American public whose favor they could lose if they go too far.”
However, that shred of respect is being slowly whittled down, she said.
This is what concerns McMasters, and why she said she started The Liberty Belle.
“The inherent spirit of the Constitution that exists in our hearts and minds is being killed, and when that happens, the government can do whatever it wants, as publicly as it wants, and nobody’s going to blink,” she said.
In many classrooms, the teaching of critical race theory (CRT)—the Marxist philosophy that sees society as a class struggle between oppressors and the oppressed, specifically labeling white people as the oppressors and all other races as the oppressed—has minimized the U.S. Constitution as an outdated document written by what proponents of CRT have deemed as racists.
To this, McMasters responded, “What’s more outdated: a government that has the arbitrary power of kings, queens, czars, and emperors—which is what we’ve had since the beginning of time—or this so-called outdated document that protects our liberties and keeps us from having an unconfined government?”
The United States, she said, has done something revolutionary and modern in that it confined government.
Just Say No
However, over time citizens have become less informed about the relationship between them and their employees: the government officials.
This has led to a bloated government, McMasters said, and with that, the shadow of arbitrary power has cast itself wider.
Constitutional violations on a federal level have been numerous, which is why she said citizens need to get involved in their local governments to hold them accountable by making them assert themselves within the framework of their own state constitutions.
“States have been able to successfully protect their citizens because local government officials know where the federal government’s power starts and stops,” she said. “The problem now is we have states hooked on federal money.”
When states take federal money, the federal government can then dictate how laws are written, which McMasters said brings the issue back to ignorance.
“Unfortunately, citizens are the ones demanding that states take that money because many of them are uninformed and not realizing that they’re asking the government to provide arbitrary power,” she said. “If we can get people educated, however, so that they’re aware that this isn’t a federal job, then suddenly you’ve changed the game and the states can start saying, ‘No,’ and pulling themselves off that money.”
Education and law enforcement have fallen into these traps, she said, and there are many local police who have been deputized on a federal level.
“Despite the fact that we have multiple federal policing agencies now, there’s technically no policing allowed in the Constitution for the federal government,” she said.
When local law enforcement agencies take federal money, they become subjects to the arbitrary power of the federal government, opening the door for potential ethical violations, including violations of human rights.
“If the federal government tells these agencies to round up all of the unvaccinated people, we need a police force to say, ‘Sorry, that’s not within our power, and it’s not within yours,’” McMasters said. “But they have to know they can just say no.”
This is why McMasters said she’s willing to bring her educational political consulting to all local agencies such as law enforcement and grassroots organizations, because she said local citizens need to know when the federal government is exceeding its boundaries, a historically dangerous practice that leads to local entities becoming subjects of a federal rule.
For McMasters, it’s not just a cliché when she says, “Knowledge is literally power.”