The american founders ASSUMED the existence of a natural law.. They phrased it like this:
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
In just the previous paragraph, they made an appeal to 'the laws of nature & nature's god'.. There is a presumption of deity, but that is not central to the argument. Most writings in those days made frequent references to god. But let's break this statement down:
1. Self evident truths. These cannot be proven empirically, or observed or tested. They make the assumption, & the rest of the statements build upon it.
2. All men are equal. This was not the common view.. royalty & the ruling elite were considered divinely appointed, & were above the common man. But that had been steadily changing since the reformation, & even before in the magna carta. The quest for human freedom was in full swing. It hinges on the equality of man.
3. Every man has natural, unalienable rights. Life, liberty, & the freedom to pursue your own choices. This was not just for the ruling elite, or the chosen few in power, but for everyone.
These 3 central points provide the basis for the conclusion:
Government is instituted by society for their own benefit, protection, & to secure their natural rights.
IF you assume the earlier premises, the conclusion is logical. But if you deny the natural rights of man, the conclusions do not follow. IF there are no 'unalienable rights', then the world is open & undefined, & anyone can do as they have power & ability. Natural rights are not self enforcing.. like gravity. You can trample someone's rights & not be struck down by an immediate consequence. But if the collective society of man agree upon a canon of LAW, then they have a basis by which to live by. They have a higher LAW to appeal to, when their natural rights are being stepped on.
The individual can make this appeal, but it requires the collective will & presumption of the existence of natural rights. You could stand up to king george & declare yourself a sovereign individual, but if he has the power to bind you & cast you into the dungeon, your appeals fall on deaf ears, & have no significance. But, if you & a few hundred thousand of your countrymen defy him & stand armed, declaring your sovereignty, your rights are secured.
Appeals have often been made to tyrants & oppressors throughout history, but only those with the power to deter the oppressors gain an audience. The magna carta was signed under duress by the king.. not cheerfully & willingly. American independence was gained by defiance & bloodshed, not by philosophical blathering. We preserve & protect our rights, not by appealing to some mystical force to secure them for us, but to OURSELVES as the architects & authors of self rule.
Natural law has no power in & of itself. It can only provide the philosophical basis for which we fight. Individually, we have little hope in restraining evil, or aggressors, or oppression from the rich & powerful. But collectively, we have the ability to deter by deadly force those who would enslave us. THAT is the american ideal. Together, we can be free, deter evildoers, provide justice, & secure our own basic rights to life & property. No entity will do that for us. No angels will come down from heaven to secure our freedoms. Govt certainly will not do this, as they are at enmity with human liberty. Only as we control them, by force, can govt be a useful tool for our common good. That is what america was built upon, & is the mission statement that drives the ideal. Citizen representatives, ruled by law, controlling & restraining the excesses of human aggression. They will not restrain themselves, & no one will come to restrain them for us. We the people must secure our own freedom, & restrain the growth & excesses of mans manipulations. We have the system in place, but it is eroding. A govt of, by, & for the people is slowly perishing from the earth. The extremes of statism & anarchy are touted as superior to the old fashioned values of self rule, but they deceive themselves. They only offer a return to bondage & oppression, & rule by tyrants.
Our solidarity is not from race, or creed, or religion, or ethnicity, or social status, or country of origin. It is the common longing for freedom.. the quest for human liberty that unites & drives us to fight for our collective liberty. Many people will not 'get' the ideal. They are self absorbed & short sighted, & assume that freedom is free & comes naturally, like the air we breathe. But it is a rare thing in the history of man, & WE, the caretakers of this precious liberty, should not take it lightly, or shirk our duty to preserve it for future generations. The choice is before us. Will we passively allow scoundrels & thieves to steal our liberty, our nation, & our heritage, or will we fight them to extend freedom for another generation?