Thursday, September 20, 2007

Our Dysfunctional Republic Part I

Our Dysfunctional Republic
Sept. 6, 2007
Part I

These United States of America, three simple words that used to mean something we could be proud of, words that meant so much to so many. If you look at each of them individually, you begin to get an idea of what I am talking about. United; "being made one, in agreement; harmonious", States; "a body of people occupying a definite territory and organized under one government". America is the geographical location of these united states. Combine them and you come up with a body of people, living in America, united and harmonious under a common form of government.

What has happened to this country? Take a look around and you will see we are far from united nor are we harmonious in regards to so many issues. Abortion, religion, gay rights, immigration, gun control, taxes, the War in Iraq, the role of government, and many other issues divide us.

When people go to vote, they find themselves supporting a political candidate based solely upon whether that candidate has an R or a D in front of their name. Blind loyalty to a political party has done away with people no longer taking the time to research how their candidates voted concerning the issues that concern them. Instead, people rely upon 30 second marketing ads to form an opinion that is of such great import to them, and the nation overall. A majority of these ads only smear their opponents without providing any clear cut answers to the problems our country faces. So we continue to stumble through these troubled times, while blind loyalty to political parties, animosity, and even outright hatred of anyone with an opposing view, is tearing our nation asunder. As I said, we are far from united.

I would like to share quick thoughts with you that will be covered later in much greater detail. If any of you have read the Declaration of Independence, I am sure you are familiar with the following.

"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..."

Read that again...carefully. We seem to have forgotten one simple fact, that our government works for us. We are their employers, and it is we who wield the real power and authority in our representative form of government, not vice versa. Alexander Hamilton once said, "It is not otherwise to be supposed that the constitution could intend to enable the representatives of the people to substitute their will to that of their constituents.",

Yet that is exactly what is happening. We see our government pass all kinds of legislation that many of us find distasteful and unconstitutional. Yet they seem to do so with impunity and with little regard for the citizenry they were elected to represent.

We live in a representative republic, yet we are no longer represented by those who sit in office. In case you didn't catch that, we live in a representative republic, not a democracy.

Remember the Pledge of Allegiance? "I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the republic, for which it stands...". According to James Madison "A pure democracy is a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person."

We have a government in which candidates are voted into office to represent the people, not govern over them. They are placed there to represent the will of their constituents strictly according to the Constitution of the United States, and, for local and state representatives, their state constitutions as well. They are paid by us to act on our behalf. Yet how many times have we seen them act like they know what is best for us by passing legislation which exceeds the powers granted them by the Constitution, or goes against the desires of the public?

Think of electing a representative somewhat like a contract. When they take their oath of office, they are agreeing to the terms of that contract. If they run a campaign on promises that the Constitution does not authorize them to undertake, they are committing fraud. Then if they are elected and they proceed with their plans to enact legislation which violates the Constitution they have violated the terms that contract and we have the right to seek legal recourse. In this case, their removal from office based upon breach of said contract.

Former President William Henry Harrison couldn’t have explained that concept better when he said, “The only legitimate right to govern is an express grant of power from the governed.” Their power is given to them by us, and that power is clearly defined in the Constitution. Andrew Johnson, the 17th President of the United States, had this to say about that power, “Outside of the Constitution we have no legal authority more than private citizens, and within it we have only so much as that instrument gives us. This broad principle limits all our functions and applies to all subjects.”

It seems our government has forgotten, or chooses to ignore this principle, as they pass law after law that goes beyond, and violates their constitutional authority. It is often argued that times have changed, and so should our government. I hear people say that the Constitution is a living document and should therefore reflect the current needs of the country.

It is true that our country has changed much since the founders wrote the Constitution. It is unlikely they could have foreseen the changes we have undergone. However they allowed for change by creating the amendment process. George Washington plainly stated, “The basis of our political system is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all.”

This country has strayed from the course our founding fathers set us upon when they created our system of government. We have forgotten the words of Patrick Henry "The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government--lest it come to dominate our lives and interests"

Through our own ignorance and apathy we have allowed our government to overstep its authority and to become our masters. Thomas Jefferson once said, "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."

Overall, the American people are woefully uninformed and misled as to the true functions, and the goings on within our government. We care more about trivial things, such as sports, the lifestyles of celebrities, or reality TV, than we do about the laws that our government is supposedly passing in our behalf. We choose not to put forth the time and effort required to read the text of these laws to see whether they violate the constitution, or if they will infringe upon those liberties spoken of in the Declaration of Independence. Instead we rely upon a 90 second news clip from the some network news anchor to get the truth. It is inconceivable that the network news could explain the ramifications of a 750 page piece of legislation in a mere 90 seconds.

I am just one voice, but I hope to show people, who may be open to the truth, what has gone wrong. I hope to provide you with some very specific examples of how our government is not living up to it’s commitment to represent We the People, and how if we don't wake up soon, our freedoms and liberties will be something left for the history books and it will all be over for the United States of America.

to be continued...

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