Declaration of Independence
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…
Preamble to the US Constitution
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Washington’s Farewell Address
The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.
For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens by birth or choice, of a common country; that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts of common dangers, sufferings, and successes…
From time to time I like to look back upon some of the historical documents from the founding of the country. They usually give me a sense of pride in being an American. I have to admit though, that after reading these things, I often have to wonder why so many people can have so many different opinions on the purpose and the function of “the government” in their lives and the life of the nation.
The initial colonists were a collection of mostly western European descent; with different native tongues, cultures, skills, and life perspectives. They had come to this country for variety of reasons; to escape persecution of one form or another, to seek opportunity in a land with so much potential, or to advance their position within the government that had sponsored their emigration. After a time there grew disenchantment with having their affairs overseen and dictated to by a government thousands of miles away and the desire to separate from those bonds began to swell. And while each of the colonies were content to maintain their own identity, they understood that only by bonding together under one flag and pooling their available resources (human and material) would they be able to throw off the bonds of foreign rule. Thus became the United States of America.
Simplistic yes, but in fact, the formation of the U.S.A. was totally deliberate. “…in Order to form a more perfect Union…” – E pluribus unum “Out of Many, One” A country dedicated to the proposition that the people should reign supreme and that their governance should be by their consent (vote). From the very beginning of the republic, the purpose of the government was to ensure that the people would be free to pursue their various endeavors with the minimal amount of interference except in cases of direct conflict with another individual or the ability of the collective unit to provide equal opportunity for all. I would (and do) argue that nothing has changed in the structure of the government. However, sadly the level of participation by the governed has dropped to appalling lows and helped to create a real and dangerous assault on the foundations of our government.
One of the themes I hear more and more these days is that the government is attempting to run everything and that overregulation of business is damaging the country. One of the primary functions of the congress, as laid out in Article 1, Section 8 was to “regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.” It would seem that somewhere along the line, someone managed to convince some people that it really was the purpose of government to regulate the people for the sake of business. What I really don’t understand is how regular folk can so willingly lay down their position of dominance in “the government” and allow it to be usurped by the very entity they have been charged with overseeing.
"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves."
— John Adams, U.S. President, 1785
There has been a debate raging in this country for some time over “the government’s” role in education. Yet how can there be a debate about the role education plays in the ultimate “Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness” of the individual? It is so strange to hear people who were educated in a public school system prior to the “Reagan Revolution” now say that education should not be free for their own children and grandchildren. It should an imperative for our country to strive for a well-educated future generation; not burdened by massive debt as soon as they enter the work force. Instead we have working class folks saying, “Please make it harder for me to send my children to college or let them graduate already so far in debt that they become indentured servants immediately upon graduation.” Is this really the America we want to pass on to our children? “…and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…”
I see the United States at real cross roads today. Do we remain a nation “Of the People, By the People, and For the People.” Or do we simply surrender our governing responsibilities to the soulless corporations who will simply take what they need to improve their bottom line and discard the rest? When the people don’t vote or even step up to the plate and run for office to help shape the debate and decide the rules (which should be few) someone will fill the vacuum. From where I sit, I can see who is jumping right in to take up the slack. I can only imagine what Tom, and George, and Ben would be thinking. How about you?
Chad (The Left) Shue