Viewpoint from Pelham #2 – Question Everything . . .

Especially if it is what you want to hear! You may be the unwitting victim of Agents of Mis- and Disinformation.

Politically, I would be described as a Conservative. I am a Conservative because I believe it is NOT the Federal government’s role to take care of each of us all of the time.

Here is what I believe:

1. The Constitution is pretty well written and the intent was clear from the beginning, i.e., any authority not specifically granted to the Federal Government in the Constitution is left to the individual states, local governments, and individual citizens to resolve. The Constitution recognizes that the United States is a community of states that have collective interests and responsibilities, but beyond these collective interests, each state also retains the authority and responsibility for its own governance as guided by citizens of that state. It also contains well defined provisions for changes and amendments that may occasionally become necessary.

2. Members of all branches of government, at all levels—national, state, community—are (or should be) elected, appointed or hired to carry out the governmental business of the people whom they represent and serve. (Also I accept that we select members of government ideally because we trust them to make the best decisions for the electorate based on their full understanding of issues that affect that electorate.) Although I would prefer defining our elected government representatives as “citizen representatives” rather than as “professional politicians,” I realize it takes a collection of certain personality and character traits to be an effective “representative” making the election of “politicians” practical, so long as they first represent their electorate in good faith.

2A. Each elected representative at any level (and all citizens, too) should recognize that his or her community (county, state, etc.) is part of the greater whole, the United States of America. So any action that is taken at the local or state level should not only meet the needs of the community or state, but should also NOT be contrary to the good of the nation (i.e., contrary to the original Constitutional authority (Including Amendments) of the Federal government!).

3. I believe there are usually at least two sides to every issue. We vote for candidates to be our representatives, and they, in turn vote to pass laws and make governmental decisions. The principle of United States Government is that a majority of the voting population guides the decisions and actions of the government. I also accept the fact that a conscientious representative should be better informed on a specific issue that I might be, and I expect that individual to make an honest judgment on an issue and therefore accept that it might differ from my limited, biased opinion. Of course, if my representative differs too frequently, then he or she may not get my vote during the next election.

But…

4. It is incumbent on each individual of the populace to take responsibility for his or her own (and family members’) health and well-being. This includes taking those actions to feed, clothe, and house one’s self and family, i.e., having a job or vocation that provides value to society, or supports someone who does (or feed, clothe and house the family strictly through their own efforts). It is also the responsibility of each individual to recognize that people are different, with different capabilities, skills, talents, and potentials. This also means that each individual should have the right (to me “right” is a very rarely used word) to be able to develop his or her individual potential to the fullest extent possible (or desired). The initiative and energy to achieve this potential is the responsibility of the individual.

5. It is also the responsibility of each individual to participate in the governing of local, state, and national government, i.e., through being a candidate or through informed and thoughtful voting for representatives and/or issues that will have an influence on the individual and/or the community.

6. The key to Number 5 is the “informed” state of the electorate. Being informed begins with sound parental guidance, formal and informal education, and access to an honest and complete record of issues of importance to the “informed electorate.” In addition to the “three Rs,” education should instill curiosity. For me, the fundamental principle of education is to “question everything.” Although the scientific method of “test and confirm” may not work on political and social issues, education should equip each individual with the ability to listen (or read) critically, keeping in mind that what one hears or reads is often slanted to promote a specific point of view (if not deliberately misleading). And sometimes the message is accurate and factual, but the only way to tell the difference is be prepared to question both the facts and/or the source of the information.

6A. Education should be objective, and rigorous with defined standards, but it is best managed at state and local levels. Education is most effective when parents and students believe/accept that the education they are getting is what they need, understanding that there should be standards for reading and writing (communicating), math, civics, knowledge of the world (basic science, geography, and in this era, geo-political familiarization with other countries and societies with whom we share this planet). I would add a course that I would call “Accept but Verify,” that would encourage folks to question what they hear and even see.

Your comments are welcomed. Also, please share this blog with others who may be interested.

Respectfully submitted:

Jeff Richmond

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