By Russell Hartz
Our political parties today seem to be more interested in undermining each other and dividing our nation, trying to grab power for themselves rather than consolidating our national assets for the opportunity, prosperity, happiness and safety of our people.
In his state of the union address to the joint session of Congress Jan. 30, 2018 our duly elected president laid out his national priorities and outlined his legislative agenda for Congress to consider.
The president’s party applauded enthusiastically.
The other party, sitting across the aisle, showed no reaction through the whole speech.
Remembering President Washington’s admonition about political parties I had to ask myself, “Who has the real power in our government today? The president? Congress? The political parties?”
No! The real power is in the voter! We, the people, are the ultimate power. Our votes are the incentive our leaders need to administer a successful government. They must earn our votes or we must vote them out of office.
We did not elect them to use the power to accumulate wealth and power for themselves.
Our forefathers provided this beautiful Republic for us at great risk to themselves and their families.
After signing our Declaration of Independence in July of 1776 Ben Franklin said, “Gentlemen, we must all hang together or we will certainly all hang separately.”
Consider a modern analogy: “Voters, we must all stick together or we will certainly all lose our freedom separately.”
Nobody or no organization can take our freedom from us. The only way we can lose it is if we, the voters, choose to give it away of our own free will. Or if we allow politicians to con us out of it.
Public demonstrations and violence are divisive and counterproductive. They accomplish nothing positive. Abe Lincoln was right: “A nation divided against itself cannot stand.” Any candidate who encourages divisiveness of any kind among us must be voted out of office.
Look past all the words and consider how the candidate thinks and where his loyalties and values are. Vote for the candidate who best supports our constitution and the rule of law. If the incumbent has not proven himself or herself by these standards vote them out; if they have, vote them back in.
Totally avoid party politics. That will bring us down.
Our Republic is still the best form of government mankind has ever yet devised for the benefit of all its people. It provides all our citizens with opportunity as nothing else in history ever has and opportunity is the only thing that can insure the prosperity and happiness of all our people.
Our forefathers recognized this and by the time the revolutionary war with Great Britain ended in 1783 the colonies had shaken off their colonial identification and began calling themselves states. They all got together and called a constitutional convention to decide how to preserve their independence peacefully.
The founding fathers realized that the problem with revolutions is that they always end up with more violence and bloodshed when power hungry factions from within incite riots and go to war with each other to decide who will take over the power of governing (Sound familiar?).
The new states avoided this by creating the Articles of Confederation. But by 1786 it was clear that these articles were not adequate.
Recognizing the need for consolidation the states sent delegates to Philadelphia May 14, 1787 to convene a Constitutional Convention to formulate a workable Constitution to which all the states would be willing to submit.
George Washington was chosen to conduct the meetings. There were 55 delegates selected by the states, attending these meetings. They were prosperous, well- educated, farmers, land owners and businessmen, all reputed to have a good moral compass. None had political aspirations.
Many were history buffs. James Madison believed that the protection of liberty depended on the structure of government. He spent the winter of 1787 studying confederations throughout history and had an understanding equal to Adams, Jefferson and Franklin, who was a polymath.
The delegates who attended the convention and formulated our Constitution were probably the first governmental leaders in world history who understood the importance of learning from history and they were dedicated to the cause of freedom.
But that was 231 years ago and the American colonies, now states, had their own problems.
There was much dissention and heated discussion at all these meetings. The states all had their own objectives, agendas, ideas and problems. Some depended on shipbuilding, some on lumbering, fishing, farming, whaling or mercantile endeavors to support their economies. Some were slave states. Some had good harbors and some did not.
Realizing that the consolidation of the union was necessary to their prosperity, felicity, safety and perhaps even to their national existence they knew they had to work things out. Failure was not an option.
Madison maintained, “If there is power to be had, someone will aspire to it, but power is necessary to run a government, therefore a balance of power, provided by the states is needed.” Dividing the power between executive, legislative and judicial departments, with each state providing its own elected officials, provided those checks and balances, while providing the national government with the ability to do for us those things that we cannot do for ourselves, such as national infrastructure, international relations, a military to maintain our safety; at the same time allowing considerable control of the law to remain with the states, a top priority.
But could people be trusted to make decisions on a national scale? Or even on a state scale? Some thought they could. Some thought they couldn’t. The smaller states were concerned that the larger more populous states might force control over them by virtue of vote.
James Wilson, a Scotsman from Pennsylvania, proposed what later became known as the “electoral college” where each state chooses “electors.” It was left up to the individual states to devise the manner of choosing their own electors, but within a set of designated rules. Each state is allowed one elector for every member of Congress it has.
Our vote for president is actually a vote instructing our state electors to pass it on as our vote for president through the state; therefore the president is actually elected by a majority of states votes, as determined by their voters.
In his farewell address in 1796, after serving eight years as president of the U.S., George Washington warned the nation to avoid splitting up into political parties. His rational was that the primary goal of any political party and its members is self- preservation. Their ultimate goal is power.
The party system will eventually infest the division of powers created by the separation of the executive, legislative and judicial departments, seriously weakening their ability to function and allowing the parties to take control over them (Does this somehow look familiar?).
When that happens Congress becomes dysfunctional and the division of power will be lost. The power will be usurped by the strongest party and the welfare of the nation will become secondary to that parties own self-indulgence, leaving the door open to despotism.
The convention ended Sept. 17 after 126 days of fierce debate on every issue, but these men finally came up with our U. S. Constitution. After the signatures were all on it the delegates retired to the “City Tavern” across the street from the hall for dinner and refreshments.
A woman asked Franklin what they had accomplished in all that time.
He answered, “A republic … if you can keep it.”
_ _ _