Need, Deed, Creed
Real Americans and True Patriots love their country and see to its need. They challenge it to rise up and live out the full meaning of its creed.
“It is wise to direct our anger towards problems – not people; to focus our energies on finding solutions not fixing blame; to search for answers – not scapegoats.”
The problems confronting the country vary from time to time, but the needs of the country are well covered by the Preamble of the Constitution. In all times and eras the country needs unity, justice, peace, security, prosperity, and liberty. The Republic as ordained and established by the Constitution is responsible for deploying and employing the resources of the nation to meet these needs. In order for this to be done effectively, people elected and appointed to positions of authority and responsibility in the national government must act in good faith. Truly patriotic Americans in and out of office candidly recognize the nation’s needs and honestly work to meet them. Additionally, such Americans never forget the fundamental principles upon which the nation was founded.
For example, beginning in 2008, economic events took a severely adverse turn. This emphasized the needs of justice, peace and prosperity. While partisan camps sought [and continue to seek] to exploit these events for campaign advantage, it cannot be seriously argued that needs have not arisen which require an effective response. There can be honest differences of opinion about the causes and cures for the economic troubles, but there is no honest way to use tricks and ploys to preclude an effective response to the troubles. Since the 2008 election, Republicans have been almost unfailingly obstructive of government action. They have not engaged in good faith efforts to identify and solve problems. They have regularly sought to use parliamentary ploys to successfully prevent legislation or regulation that addressed factors in the economic downturn. This ranges from making 60 votes necessary for almost any action in the Senate to the use of sham, pro forma sessions to pretend that Congress is not in recess. In so doing, Republicans worked to direct anger toward their opponents rather than the problems which endanger the well-being of millions of Americans. They have not tried to find solutions, but to fix blame on the Democrats. They have not sought answers, but scapegoats. In fact, Republicans over the years of the twenty-first century have consistently used government to favor their contributors, wage war, and otherwise obstruct governance on behalf of the greater good of the country and the citizenry.
Due to this lack of good faith in the exercise of governing responsibility, the needs of justice, peace, and prosperity go begging. Statistics indicate the inequality of wealth and income is growing rapidly, and half the population is in or on the brink of poverty. Such circumstances reflect neither justice nor prosperity and they will sustain neither unity nor peace in our society. If the government is unable to effectively respond because its operations are hamstrung, the Republic is in jeopardy.
At one point in American history, the standard response to economic disruptions was inaction. Since the Great Depression, this response has been exposed as inadequate. The Republicans do not advocate any considered governmental response to the economic difficulties the nation currently endures. They simply reiterate the tax reduction policies they have previously implemented. These policies have not produced the economic activity they were purported to support and they will not remediate the economic woes now besetting us. By obstructing the process of governance, Republicans sabotage the institution in which they hold responsible positions and they deny effective policies and programs to their fellow Americans. The combined effect of these actions moves us farther from the purposes and principles of the Republic and imperils the civil faith upon which achieving these purposes and honoring these principles depends. Cynicism and despair are toxic to the body politics. Obstructionism and sabotage breed cynicism and despair.
Even with one war brought to an end and another winding down the Republic still has security needs. In order to effectively meet these needs, people in office must study the present and emerging threats. This should be done without political partisanship because the enemies of the Republic do not distinguish among Republicans and Democrats. These enemies are hostile to all Americans and all of our government. Therefore, considerations and actions regarding the security needs of the Republic must be based on sound information, logically considered. Neither the Republic nor the citizenry can endure a repeat of the duplicity that duped us into the attack on Iraq. If people, regardless of political affiliation, cannot put aside preconceptions and partisan mindsets in this context, they do not deserve to occupy positions of authority and responsibility.
In addition to threats from other countries thought must be given to threats posed by non-state actors. Whether such adversaries are fanatical terrorist groups or marauding pirates on the high seas, the threats must be identified and an appropriate response must be developed and deployed. As with threats from nation states, political posturing and partisanship have no constructive role in these considerations. It is incumbent on all Americans in and out of office to carefully consider and rationally decide on non-state threats to the security of the Republic and its citizens. This is an area in which one must correctly identify problems, carefully search for solutions, and achieve durable consensus, not temporary partisan advantage.
Underlying all other needs, unity is the first necessity of the Republic. In order to promote and produce unity, citizens and officials must recognize the political consensus that guided the Founders and Framers. In part this consensus emphasized the propriety of governance as long as the “just powers” stemmed from the consent of the governed. This consent was to be determined through regular, fair, free elections in which suffrage was extended to all eligible voters. The franchise was too narrow for much of the Republic’s history, but it ultimately expanded to include all citizens eighteen years old or older. Regrettably, 2011 saw many efforts to diminish the range of enfranchisement and undermine the Republic’s popular basis.
The Framing consensus also stressed civic equality and since the middle of the 19th century it required that all citizens enjoy the full privileges and immunities of any citizen. From the perspective of the Founders and Framers, the Republic was the instrument of the citizenry broadly construed, not the weapon of a prominent and powerful few. While the Founders and Framers insisted on the protection of minority rights, they believed governance should be conducted, for the most part, on the basis of majority rule. In any event, the Republic was ordained and established to employ and deploy power sensibly to achieve the stipulated purposes. The Framers vision did not include the obstructed government that has plagued the Republic in the 21st century. Nor did it endorse the resurgent confederacy that purports States are somehow superior to the Republic. The Tenth Amendment limits the federal government to those necessary and proper powers explicitly granted in or clearly implied by the Constitution, but it in no way makes States superior to the federal government. The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution establishes the federal laws take precedence over state laws or the lack thereof. The States have all powers not granted to the federal government by the Constitution, but they cannot nullify federal laws or interpose themselves between the federal government and citizens of any particular state. The various calls for returning power to the states often misleadingly described as states’ rights are all erroneous interpretations or deliberate misrepresentations of the American Constitutional Republic.
The need for unity is strongly supported by and related to the need for justice and prosperity. In a society where wealth and income are distributed in a grossly unequal manner, injustice is easily perceived. Such perceptions give rise to resentments and these in turn undermine unity. If the perceived and actual inequality is accompanied by prosperity for a few and near of actual poverty for many, then injustice becomes the hallmark of the society and unity is severely impaired. In 2011, almost half of the American citizenry lived in or on the brink of poverty. Furthermore, income inequality was more pronounced than it had ever been in modern America. The mean household income of the lowest 90% of Americans in 2011 is just over $31,000. For the top 1% this figure is over $1 million. The households in the top 1% have more than thirty times the income of the average American household. Furthermore, the top 10% of American households control 73.1% of Americans’ net worth while the other 90% control 26.9%. Finally, the average CEO pay is 185 times larger than that of the average worker. With statistics such as these, it is hard to dispute perceptions of injustice in contemporary American society. Given such distributions of wealth and income, the unity of the society is threatened by its apparent injustice. Steps must be taken to promote a more even distribution of wealth and income as well as a broader reaching prosperity. People who are doing extraordinarily well under the current arrangements will object to any attempts as redistribution. In so doing, they betray either ignorance or indifference to the fact that these current arrangements also redistribute. The current arrangements take wealth from those who have little and channel it to those who have much. The have mores get more and more and the have nots are well on the way to becoming have nothings. Let us seriously consider whether it can be reasonably argued that anyone needs 185 times the income of another or whether 1 in 10 people should have three times the wealth of the other 9. Up to this point, Americans have been remarkably good natured about this state of affairs, but it should not be presumed such docility will last forever.
Finally, the Republic needs genuine liberty for its citizens or it loses much of its rationale. Liberty, however, means far more than a broad range of shopping alternatives. The liberty valued by the Framers was not merely or mainly the liberty to consume. Their liberty was the liberty to live life according to one’s own values and choices so long as one did not infringe on the equal right of others to do the same. For example, the Framers cherished liberty of thought and belief. They did not want any orthodoxy to secure the blessing of the government and use this support to suppress dissidents. In contemporary terms, this means people can follow the religion they freely choose or follow no religion at all. It also means one is free to choose one’s sexual preferences and engage in any practices one consents to. If prominent politicians have prudish views of what is proper sexually, they are entitled to guide their conduct accordingly. If the blessings of liberty are to be secured to the citizenry, however, such politicians are not entitled to impose their sectarian beliefs on the entire society. The same is true in regard to all forms of thought and expression. Prominent or powerful people are entitled to their views of what is right, true, or beautiful, but they are not entitled to impose these views on the society as a whole. In the spirit of genuine liberty as well as authentic justice, enormously wealthy individuals or organizations would not be allowed to inundate the marketplace of ideas with massive publicity or propaganda campaigns and thereby repress dissenting, but perhaps superior, views. Might does not make right, and wealth makes neither wise nor worthy.
If the needs of the Republic are to be met, citizens and elected or appointed officials must do what they have rarely done. They must reflect on the principles and purposes of the Republic and act accordingly. Ordinary citizens must cast their votes for candidates who show the greatest understanding of and commitment to these principles and purposes. Elected and appointed officials must discharge the responsibilities in accordance with these principles and purposes. Before taking any action in their official capacities, officials should ponder what course best advances unity, justice, peace, security, prosperity, and liberty. These are the purposes for which officials hold office. If the officials do not act to advance these purposes, then they are subverting and/or sabotaging the Republic. Citizens must pay attention to what their elected or appointed officials are doing and insist at every opportunity that these people act for proper purposes. Neither officials nor citizens can narrowly focus on one of the purposes to the exclusion of the others. This is the great failing of the so-called Libertarians. They so emphasize and elevate liberty that they forget and forgo the other five purposes. This kind of tunnel vision benefits neither the Republic nor its citizens. In order to keep the Republic bequeathed to us, we all must act to achieve and advance unity, justice, peace, security, prosperity, and liberty. As Madison declared, “All who love peace, all who love their country, all who love liberty, ought to have it ever before their eyes that they may cherish in their hearts a due attachment to the Union of America and be able to set a due value on the means of preserving it.” Or as Jefferson said, “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” The Republic properly understood and properly implemented is the source and guarantor of our unity, justice, peace, security, prosperity, and liberty. Let us honor it; let us cherish and support it; let us keep it.
Tags: american poet, Americans, citizens, Constitution, officials, parties, patriotism, Politics, voting