Is our political culture what our founding fathers envisioned?
What would our founding fathers say today about the political environment which we now have in place? We can only imagine how they would react if the actions or inactions of our present political environment were in place during their time. Below are some quotes from our founding fathers which give some insight as to what they envision the culture of our country to be. The first quote by Noah Webster is of which we should take notice given the content. It states:
Every child in America should be acquainted with his own country. He should read books that furnish him with ideas that will be useful to him in life and practice. As soon as he opens his lips, he should rehearse the history of his own country.
Noah Webster, On the Education of Youth in America, 1788
The history of our country is or should be one of the critical aspects of our educational system. It is important for all children whether they are taught in private or public educational institutions to know the true history of our country. The history to be taught is not from a political correctness approach but the actual events and their impact as we grew into the country we now find ourselves. School books which address our history should provide some input as to the reasons why individuals came to this country and why they chose to fight for their freedom from England. It is necessary to understand the circumstances with which our country began not how others want to portray our country.
Patrick Henry is a well-known individual or at least he should be but the statement identified below says a lot about the character of individuals in the beginning of our country. The quote states:
I am not a Virginian, but an American.
Patrick Henry, speech in the First Continental Congress, September 6, 1774
The political culture and indeed the culture of society should embody the principle in the quote above from Patrick Henry. Those who represent us in elected office and those appointed should consider themselves Americans. Elected or appointed government officials should not consider them as a Republican or Democrat but Americans. The actions and decisions they make should be as Americans and what is right for the country not their political party. Today it seems to be more about making political points in some respects than making the right decision for all citizens.
Another important quote was made by a not so well-known individual who was part of our founding fathers. The quote is a principle which should be part of exercising of our vote come election time: The quote states:
In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate — look to his character....
Noah Webster, Letters to a Young Gentleman Commencing His Education, 1789
From time to time we have local, state and federal elections. The quote by Noah Webster says it all. We should not elect any individual based on the denomination of a candidate but their character. Today it seems we continually re-elect individuals which in some cases should have been replaced when they were up for being re-elected. Granted when looking at a candidate and his/her opponent the individual being elected may be the best choice given the character of the individuals running for office. We as citizens and voters need to look at the character of each candidate in making our choices. It should not be based on their statements but their action. We must decide who is best equipped to make the right decisions for the respective office. The higher the office the more we should make our choices wisely not whether they are a Republican or Democrat. Granted there are good individuals in both political parties but the character of the individual should be the deciding factor not their party affiliation.
The importance of our vote cannot be more eloquently stated than a quote by Samuel Adams in 1781. The quote states:
Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual — or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.
Samuel Adams, in the Boston Gazette, April 16, 1781
The value and importance of our vote in each election is a solemn trust we have regarding our society. The decisions we make each election can impact our local economy, the economy of our state and most importantly the economy of our country. The choices we make have consequences and the choices our elected officials make also have consequences. We must hold all our elected officials accountable for the decisions they make and the solemn trust in existence through our vote must hold them accountable.
The last quote sends a message from our founding fathers which should be recognized by our elected officials in Washington concerning the 1st ten amendments of the Constitution which comprise the Bill of Rights. The quote states:
The whole of that Bill [of Rights] is a declaration of the right of the people at large or considered as individuals...[I]t establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of.
Albert Gallatin, letter to Alexander Addison, October 7, 1789
The Bill of Rights and their creation by the founding fathers should be protected by our elected officials. The Bill of Rights is the foundation of the Constitution but recently several of these rights have come under fire through efforts to restrict the rights as written. The most recent is associated with the right to bear arms amid the recent shootings at schools and other facilities. The right to bear arms is embedded in the Constitution and the acts of individuals should not impede the rights of others to bear arms. Issues surrounding gun violence need to be addressed not the least of which is mental illness which seems to be a factor in several if not all shootings which have taken place.
Another area of attack on these rights is in regard to freedom of religion and actions by individuals or groups to restrict our right to freely express our religious beliefs. I understand that not everyone will have the same religious beliefs. The display of religious expression and in some cases no specific religious expression is receiving complaints that they should not be displayed. We as individuals have the right to display religious doctrine which in some cases is openly displayed and has been for years. One of the principle areas which seem to be of concern is the display of the Ten Commandments. Many of these commandments have been incorporated into our laws and if they were display in reference to laws rather than as the Ten Commandments then I think there would be no objection. Decisions made through our court system regarding the display of these commandments have been mixed but the right to display them is undeniable under the Constitution. Individuals and some groups object to the display of the Ten Commandments as they do not want such display on government property. There is however to date no objection to the display of these commandments which are openly displayed on the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.