The phrase “by the people for the people” struck me to the core even when I was small. Early I realized that people throughout the world lived in cruel and unyielding dictatorships. Our “Weekly Reader” clearly described the governments of Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Ethiopia and others.
When we began to study the Founding Fathers and the birth of our country I was completely engrossed. The courage, honor and dignity of men and women offering up their lives to create a country based in freedom and equality rang of a high calling. I dreamed of one day doing the same. Love of country came naturally.
Years passed as I read, studied, voted, served in the Navy and evolved into the so-called citizen I am today. Though like many, I became cynical, I have never lost my respect for the ideals this country was built on. Folks carp that all politicians are crooked and that the government is bought by big money.
To some degree this may be true. I contend that to enter into public service is no “walk in the park”. Why would an educated individual with resources, connections and the wherewithal to run for office subject himself or herself to life in a fish bowl? Why would they bypass what is typically more money in the business field to perform in a field that is largely thankless and fraught with criticism? Some would say they want power. It is a long an arduous road to any real power. There are easier paths.
I contend that they wish to serve their country. I still believe that most folks who enter the political arena want to change things for the positive. Most have seen the alternatives and studied them. They know that the ideal of democracy has the capacity to lift mankind to his highest function. “Liberty breeds morality” if government is based in that same morality.
If we fail the founders of this great country it is not in our dissension or partisan haggling. It is in our loss of this morality. To claim God’s grace and name as particular to our cause is errant and in and of itself flawed. To live and act in accordance with God’s grace and name is to practice the highest form of democracy.
Thomas Jefferson posited, “The public heart of freedom would, by its independence of thought and will, create a “government by the people … for the people”. This is the dream that a I, as a precocious child embraced and still to this day, as a grizzled and cynical citizen believes.
I say that we are practicing democracy at its messy, argumentative best. Let us not escape our moral responsibility by casting stones at those who would engage themselves in the difficult work of nation. Let us rather call on them to remember the sacrifices made. Let us vote for the moral high ground and put aside our fear of someone getting what we want or taking what we have.
There is only one thing that anyone can take that in the end will matter. It is our liberty to disagree. As American’s we have the right to govern ourselves. Would we surrender that right for the sake of civility or for self-centered fear? I think not. “For the sake of morality”, might be another matter entirely, though.