Many Americans are disappointed with the current administration. This growing movement recognizes a gap between the promises President Obama made in his inaugural address and the failure of the administration to bring about those changes. For example, in his inaugural address, he called for “a new era of responsibility,” claiming “those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.” Many Americans took Obama’s campaign promises to heart.
Sadly, Obama, his administration and his congressional allies have failed to take responsibility or to be held accountable for government actions. They have done just the opposite. For many, the origin of the disappointment lies in both the style of governance as well as its content. This administration seems to have an arrogant and closed-door approach, in addition to problematic legislation, such as health-care reform, financial reform, stimulus packages, etc.
The American ethos regarding governance has not changed a lot since the early days of the Republic. After the Constitution was ratified, public demand for a set of explicit rights and articulated freedoms designed to protect citizens from government “gone bad” continued to pester the first Congress. Four of the states had failed to ratify the Constitution over a host of concerns. Five of the ratifying state legislatures, along with notes from those not ratifying, submitted 210 amendments, with nearly 100 unduplicated.
On June 8, 1789, James Madison, the father of the Constitution, politely insisted that Congress consider introducing a “bill of rights” as an amendment to the Constitution. He said, “And I do most sincerely believe, that if Congress will devote but one day to this subject, so far as to satisfy the public that we do not disregard their wishes, it will have a salutary influence on the public councils, and prepare the way for a favorable reception of our future measures.”
Madison understood how to build trust: Hear the people and “walk your talk.” He elaborated by saying, “It will be a desirable thing to extinguish from the bosom of every member of the community, any apprehensions that there are those among his countrymen who wish to deprive them of the liberty for which they valiantly fought and honorably bled.” The first 10 amendments to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, exist because Madison and his fellow representatives listened to the people who were serious about protection from government: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, keeping power localized, etc.
Similarly, fiscal accountability, openness within the law making process and respect for the will of the people is no more negotiable today than it was after the Revolution.
In 2008, Obama campaigned eloquently and effusively about a restoration of trust and respect for the people. He then came into office and did just the opposite on almost every single issue. As a result, Obama and his Congressional allies have unleashed a spirit in America many thought long extinguished.
Grassroots organizing among people concerned not for the whale, the trees or the hungry, per se, but for the country and its principles is happening at an unprecedented rate. The politicians in touch with this flourishing spirit in both parties will reap favor with the “everyman” crowd.
Here are a few examples of what has emerged out of a desire for meaningful change:
- U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., has initiated YouCut, where anyone can vote on a menu of spending cuts. The winning item gets introduced to the House floor for a vote.
- GOOOH – Get Out of Our House – is gaining momentum “as a non-partisan plan to evict the 435 career politicians in the U.S. House of Representatives and replace them with everyday Americans just like you.”
- The Tea Party Revolution continues to gain followers. The platform: the Bill of Rights. Its website contains mostly links and resources for grassroots organizers.
Read more about how Americans are organizing around a desire to see fiscal accountability, transparency and respect for the Constitution returned to governance at The Washington Times column Inside the Beltway by Jennifer Harper
Image from www.philadelphia-reflections.com/…/madison.jpg
Technical and creative writer Carla G. Harper follows current events with one eye on history and one eye on the future. Her goal is to encourage people to think critically about what’s going on, both around them and in their lives. Follow Carla at Twitter: CarlaGHarper
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