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  • Writer's pictureDoug Weiss

We the People

Updated: Jul 5, 2020

Of late, I have seen numerous posts and articles using this phrase as a headline. What is more, it has been invoked by individuals expressing polar opposite views. Whatever their political persuasion, those who claim these words as an endorsement of their right to speak on our behalf can lay no such claim. We are today, a people divided, represented by men and women who fuel those divisions, demonize those who hold opposing views, and give more than tacit approval to individuals and groups that would destroy the very institution these words represent.

The opening words of our Constitution, arrived at through a painful and labored birth, serve a very specific purpose, one which cannot be vacated by those claiming to represent a common voice. As a reminder, the words which follow state the purpose plainly: “in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity….” Those men who authored and attested to their agreement with the principles set forth in the foundation of our country, those who fought and faced death to free themselves and their countrymen from authoritarian oppression and injustice did not speak of division but of unity.

The republic which they helped found marked a shift in the affairs of all mankind that would in time end tyrannical rule, though it would cost millions of lives and cause internal disunions, some of which threaten a return to despotism today. It is for this reason that I shudder when I read, We the People to suggest that the opinions of an author carry the authority of the people.

I do not claim that our particular form of government is perfect, or that voters always select a calibre of people to lead that fairly represent us. But I do believe that citizens on both ends of the political spectrum want precisely what the authors of the Constitution wanted for our country, even if we disagree—and sometimes violently disagree on how to arrive at that end or what that looks like.

I have a simple litmus test for any individual who asks for my vote, regardless of the office they seek. I am disinterested in political parties; they were and remain almost everywhere partisan and polar. The alignment of money and power that aggregate around such institutions further the division of our people and so I am suspect of any would be leader whose rhetoric, actions or history are bound up with the interests of parties over people. We have sufficient numbers of representatives who have been given authority over us all but care only for the interests of some, who cravenly distort and demean anyone who represents an opposing viewpoint and encourage their followers to do the same—even to the point of harming those who disagree. I do not wish to appoint the governor of some of us, the senator of some of us much less the president of some of us. The oaths they take and promptly ignore bind them to uphold that Constitution and it our right, and our responsibility to hold them to that promise.

What I want and need to know of anyone that wishes my endorsement, my vote, is simply this: will you uphold both the letter and spirit of our Constitution, and by what means will you insure that your failure to do so, regardless of when or how it might occur, would result in your instantaneous removal from office? Perhaps if we demanded as much of all those who seek office, if we insisted that our leaders represent all of the peoples in their town, state, district and country rather than those of their party we would return to the purpose stated so clearly in that Constitution. We the people deserve an end to the divisive and partisan behavior of our leadership, we have fought bitterly to obtain it, and on this one thing we should agree, that those who would deprive any of us of any of these rights deprive us all.

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