To the Editor:
On a recent trip to Washington, D.C., I picked up a beautiful copy of The U.S. Constitution at the National Archives museum shop. I brought my little hard bound book with the gold lettering to a meeting recently, where I was to read the First Amendment aloud to the group.
I had practiced reading it a couple of times, but even so, that precious book, and those powerful words, and the hopes and dreams of a democratically governed people embodied within, brought me to the verge of tears. I well up with emotion at the conviction of our forefathers and at the careful and brilliant construction of a government with federal responsibilities, states’ rights, and exquisite checks and balances. Its simplicity and beauty inspire me, guarantee my freedom, and hold me responsible for safeguarding it with my voice, my actions, and my vote.
As we head into an emotionally charged presidential election cycle, it’s important to remember that the Founders knew that government of the people, by the people, and for the people could only be successful if the people were well educated.
An educated citizenry can read and write and be informed. We can look up information, voting records, issue statements, even check the accuracy of a report or a public figure’s statements.
Sadly, I suspect many of our citizens have taken their educations and their civic responsibilities somewhat for granted. The assumption is that some vague, unknown “they” will take care of health care, tariffs, taxes, immigration, and infrastructure. This is where our system fails. When we hand over our rights and responsibilities to someone else, “they” will create rules and regulations to serve their own special interests, not the greater good.
Our Constitution gives us specific freedoms and responsibilities. If we use them well, our American democracy will thrive. If we cede them over to some anonymous “them”, government of the people, by the people, and for the people will begin to fade away.
Together we can hold our elected officials accountable to the people, and we can keep democracy alive and well in the United States.
Here's our First Amendment:
"Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; orthe right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
Cynthia de Seife