This is a multi-part experimental series describing what I expect of our Government, our Government representatives (national, state and local), and what I expect of myself and my fellow citizens.
The “experiment” is to determine if anyone cares enough about our governmental processes to agree, disagree, argue, or debate what I have to say.
As we approach the next election season, it is time to stop and assess what I really want from an elected representative. I invite you to join me.
Who am I?
I am a proud American (and veteran) and see no need to move to some safer, more secure or better country. That, however, does not mean that I think everything here is perfect—actually far from it. I also believe that our democracy (or more correctly, our republic) is quite fragile—and it would not take a lot of pressure to push the whole country–our republic—into both political and/or financial chaos and collapse. I also think this collapse is avoidable, but may require an extraordinary effort to avoid.
In the next several essays, I will offer my thinking on what I expect from my (our) government and our representatives. I will also explain what I feel my responsibilities and duties are as a citizen of this nation, and finally, will try to offer what I think needs to be done to restore a healthy republic. So who am I: Just a concerned citizen!
On November 19, 1863, in what came to be regarded as “one of the greatest speeches in American history,” President Abraham Lincoln described the United States as a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
There is a critical premise embedded in this statement—that our government is “of the people.” Simply stated, “we” are (or at least are supposed to be) “the functional foundation of our government.” Keep this in mind as you read this series.
Part I – What I want (expect) and do not want (expect) from Government
First and foremost, I expect the Federal Government to operate within the constraints of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. I recognize that, from time to time, due to a nation that is evolving and advancing socially and technologically, the Constitution may need to be amended.
The founding fathers recognized this possibility and provided procedures for updating the Constitution through an amendment process. The mechanics of this ensures that changes are supposed to be seriously considered and require a substantial majority of the population to accept the change. It is not easy and it should not be easy.
When adhering to the Constitution, it follows that any authority or responsibility (power) not expressly assigned (or granted) to the Federal Government is left to each individual state or local community to exercise. For example, the right to legal counsel and free speech are granted by the Constitution (see comment below).
Update: One of my readers, an attorney whom I trust, pointed out that the 6th Amendment to the Constitution “addresses and in essence ‘grants’ an accused the right to counsel. With respect to “free speech” and the “right to bear arms, the 1st and 2nd Amendments to the Constitution state that Congress “shall make no law abridging a previously existing natural right” to free speech or to bear arms. Thus the right to “free speech” and “to bear arms” are protected rather than granted by the Constitution.
Right or wrong, providing education and medical care are not Constitutional responsibilities of the Federal Government.
I expect the Federal Government, within the framework of the Constitution, to manage those aspects of national business that cannot be managed by each of the several states. One example is national defense. It would be frightfully inefficient for each state to contribute autonomously to the collective defense of the United States.
The Federal Government should, through consultation with the states, establish and manage international relations with other countries. When it comes to international affairs, the United States needs to act as a unified entity. Individual states and citizens may interact with international countries and companies but these interactions should be in accordance with established national policies.
The Federal Government should establish and enforce policies and laws relating to interstate commerce to ensure a degree of consistency of business intercourse between states. Included in this area are the establishment, maintenance, and/or oversight of interstate transportation including interstate highways, interstate waterways, and interstate air travel. This means that, for example, when the Federal Government approves funding for a bridge or highway, that roadway should directly enable or enhance interstate commerce.
There needs to be a federal judicial system (the Supreme Court) to resolve cases involving federal law, and to ensure that the principles of the Constitution and Bill of Rights are indeed protected and upheld and that proposed Federal legislation does not exceed the authority established by the Constitution.
I expect the Federal Government to protect the citizens of the United States (collectively) from enemies domestic (i.e., involved in interstate and/or Federal criminal activities) and foreign. In turn, I expect to have the authority to protect my family and personal and real property from harm, theft or damage by anyone. When threatened, I will use due diligence by calling law enforcement when time and conditions permit, but I expect to be permitted to act directly when the threat is imminent.
There may be other areas where the Federal Government may legally and rightfully exert authority, provided it can be shown that the authority is clearly derived from the Constitution.
I expect State and local governments to function in a similar manner of breadth of authority within their respective state and local governing documents.
Briefly, I will add here that of all the issues the Federal Government must confront, I believe the foundational consideration has to be the financial health of the country, which, at this time, I believe is in jeopardy. I believe spending is out of control. I believe our national debt may very well be the downfall of the United States. (Even a brief review of the history of the fall of great countries shows that loss of fiscal control or constraint created a situation in which the Government could not pay its bills and/or the populace could not afford to live—either one or both leading to collapse of the nation.)
Keep in mind, that in my premise above, when you “point fingers at” or criticize the “government” (which needs to be done sometimes), that fingers are also pointing at you–you are, like it or not, part of the “government.”
Before I proceed, I invite readers to offer comments, especially with regard to any flaws in my thinking.