The Destiny of America
Eric LaMont Gregory
The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government,
and to protect its free expression should be our first object
and to protect its free expression should be our first object
We are living in times not unlike those that existed when this great nation was created, a nation forged from the mettle of a few highly dedicated individuals.
The republican experiment, a nation principled by the rule of law, is the course the founders embarked upon. And today, those same ideas are on trial with renewed vigour.
The ideas with which the framers struggled concerned the relationship between the citizen and the proper role of government. And they answered that question in a way that is unique; it is the responsibility of government to protect freedom and individual initiative.
The proper role of government ‘employing the better angels of our nature’, in the words of Lincoln, is to do what is best for this Republic when faced with outwardly irreconcilable demands on finite resources. And, to remember that we are a nation of, by and for the people.
Washington suggested that the marvel of all history was the patience with which men and women submitted to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments, burdens unnecessarily laid upon the citizen by their governments.
Jefferson answered with profound prose declaring that ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The idea of happiness to those scholarly individuals derived from their study of the ancient Greeks, who defined happiness as ‘the full use of one’s powers along lines of excellence’.
The founders of this Republic understood the necessity of every citizen having an occupation, and realized that we derive much of our sense of self-worth from the work that we do.
President McKinley embraced this idea and suggested that ‘it is the interest of the working man with which this nation must be concerned. Because when people work, they save, and when people save they invest. And, when the American people work, save and invest, America prospers’.
McKinley went on to state that ‘private capital can take care of itself’.
It appears that our legislators and executives have lost sight of this wisdom. They bailed out private capital, and bailed on the American worker. And, as a result many Americans are not working, saving and investing, and America is not as prosperous as it can be, as it will be.
We must work diligently to restore economic wisdom to our federal legislature and government. I invite every American to join in this great endeavour, that of not allowing government to continue to interfere with citizen enterprise, by over-regulating it.
And at the same time, we must encourage every American to use their God-given liberties to create opportunities for meaningful work, and thereby, use their full powers along lines of excellence, their inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness.
The framers also sought to answer the basic questions of governance:
What is the public good – and their response forms the Preamble to our Constitution, ‘We the People of the United States, in order to … form, establish, insure, promote and secure the blessings of liberty.
States rights vs. Federal powers – the framers enumerated federal powers, reserved the powers of states, and retained the right of the citizen to safeguard their own liberty against encroachment by either the federal government or the states.
As to the limits of executive authority – they placed the requirement that the executive seek the advice and consent of our elected representatives.
And to preserve the Constitution – they required that our judiciary uphold the law and not invent new ones, by establishing that the power to create law is reserved to the legislature and to the people themselves.
The economy – then as now the resounding question is how to address the debts of the states – Alexander Hamilton, our first secretary of the Treasury, reasoned that to preserve the union the debts of the several states should become the burden of the nation as a whole.
Those dedicated individuals did not always agree and left it to future generations; ours included, to work out some of the most perplexing problems concerning the nature of our political arrangements as well as our economy.
Benjamin Franklin, saw this as a natural process, and stated at the time, ‘When you assemble a number of individuals to have the advantage of their collective wisdom.
You inevitably assemble with those individuals all their prejudices, their passions; their errors of opinions, and their selfish views’.
All of these attributes are involved and reflect the nature of the contemporary political stage; where one party passes a key piece of legislation, only to have the party opposite challenge it at the polls.
What is good and healthy about our current political discourse, is that, as did the founders of this nation and the framers of our Constitution, we are laboring for the future of this great Republic. We must defend everyone’s right to debate lively, and we must forebear political violence absolutely.
The basic question is – what shall we, this generation on whose shoulders the mantle of authority now rests, make of our future?
I do not believe that we will allow the forces of division to prevail, but that we will stand together and live by and up to the full meaning of our creed; one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
And, when the inevitable foe challenges us, We the People of the United States, will stand tall and always show up for a showdown.
It is our responsibility, and our opportunity, to conquer the blights on the human condition; ignorance, hunger and disease. It will be of little consequence however, if we disregard our responsibility as stewards of the environment and foul the air, water and soil that provides the material basis of our existence on this planet.
We must, and will, structure our educational system to prepare all our citizens for the jobs of the future. Our cities, those great centers of learning, culture and industry must again provide the nucleus for the rebirth of the American experience. We will strengthen the opportunity for our families to flourish and reawaken the values of hard work, creativity and cooperation which have served this nation so well from its very beginning.
And, we shall do it together; e pluribus Unum; the genius of our system of government lies in the fact that diversity can exist in unity.
These are the challenges of our age, and the history of our time, will record how well we meet these tasks, how well we fulfill the destiny of the American Republic.
And, to all those who seek to become the peoples’ representatives, whether it be at the local, state or national level, let them remember, that they are bound by their sacred honour, to stand before the people and Almighty God, and solemnly swear to support, defend, and bear full allegiance to the Constitution of the United States, and to faithfully discharge the duties of their office.
And, may Providence guide us all.