When We the People began
The concept of We The People began with the birth of our nation. We intended to live in a country of fair laws and fair rights. The preamble of the U.S. Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” What’s fair for you should also be fair for me.
Being fair in politics is based on us—We the people—as evidenced by our Constitution. What a concept! There is neither royalty nor dynasty concerns. There are no divine rights to elevate one group over another. The goal of achieving fairness for all citizens underscores every constitutional element to, “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity…”
Governing all the people, beginning with our politics, interprets what we (the people) accept as fair. In our democracy, the majority is not the only group to determine fairness. The minority, too, has a voice and presence. We are proud of this as we exercise our norms, form our laws, and benefit from this inclusion.
We don’t always govern fairly
We don’t always succeed in this endeavor. Sometimes the pendulum of politics and justice swings far left or far right. This back-and-forth is frustrating, despairing even, but when our governing institutions hold, a balance and progress is achieved. Our sense of what is fair is constantly being challenged, refined, and improved, though sometimes it regresses into the shadows. We the peopleneed to be aware of our role in our democracy’s care.
In today’s politics we have moved far adrift of our sense of being fair. Rather, it matters most if a letter (“D” for Democrat or “R” for Republican) is found next to a legislative leader’s title or governing policy. Ideas are slanted, hidden, misstated, and biased such that we the peopleare left confused and ill informed. So, we cry out, “It’s not fair!”
Democracy requires nurturance
Robert Kagan, a neoconservative American historian and foreign-policy commentator, noted in a Brookings article, “Is Democracy in Decline? The Weight of Geopolitics”:
Today, as always, democracy is a fragile flower. It requires constant support, constant tending, and the plucking of weeds and fencing-off of the jungle that threaten it both from within and without. In the absence of such efforts, the jungle and the weeds may sooner or later come back to reclaim the land.
Being unfair damages our democracy
Being fair is a value and perspective constantly at risk. Whenever we (the people) prioritize a political party more than the governed, we cease to be fair. We stop being our best. We fail to nurture our democracy.
We do damage, too, when we put stress on our governing institutions such that a sense of fairness is no longer considered. We are witness, as Haley Sweetland Edwards reports in Time magazine (along with many other reporters and media outlets) tells of how children are removed from their parents at our border. Is this politics gone wrong? Is this negligence? Is this right? Regardless of political preference, this lack of respect and caring is not who we are—not we the people.
Former Presidential wives have spoken out about this tragedy. Laura Bush, for example, noted in a Washington opinion piece how separating children from their parents, “breaks my heart.” The sentiment of these First Ladies is in concert with the Grand Lady raising her torch on Liberty Island proclaiming, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free. … Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me…” This is who we are. This is us.
Fair voting is critical
We the peoplemake our sentiments and values known via our votes. Voting is vital for the care and nurturance of our democracy. It reflects our sense of respect and primacy of our rule of law. Voting is how we ensure we play fair.
For example, it’s not fair when we elect our nation’s president by a system that discards a large portion of our votes. We cannot be fair if we fail to count all votes, capturing the whole of our citizen’s (we the people) sentiment. We cast aside large portions of each state’s ballots, as discussed in last week’s blog (see We Ignore Presidential Election Facts). We are not playing fair!
Equal Voice Voting can remedy that concern. It focuses on us—We the people. It makes every vote count and every state matter. It’s all about being fair.
We must be fair to each other
We need to remind ourselves that we citizens are here for each other. We don’t always agree and our conflicts may be abrasive, but we are in this together. Respect and caring, remembering who we are, can carry us through any challenge.
Erosion of governance, our institutions, even our voting methods is concerning. Yet these pale in comparison to when we stop caring about each other. Our nation is tearing itself apart, becoming politically polarized, forgetting what we mean to each other. We need to return to the primary concept of, We the people.
With that in mind, I’ll finish with a nod to all the fathers and the recent Fathers Day weekend. In a touching video, Clair and Dave Crosby remind us of a binding truth. They remind us how vital it is be here for each other as they sing, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.”
We U.S. citizens need to be here for each other—that’s who we are. Our democracy requires it and the perspective must be nurtured. It’s simply the fair thing to do and be.