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Simple Strategy for Citizens 
Who Want to Renew our Democracy

Mark A. Goldman                                                                     Date: 2/28/07

If you have been paying attention to what is happening to our country, particularly during the last 6 years, you know that our Democracy is in deep trouble.  In many ways, elected representatives are no longer being held accountable to the people who put them in office.  Our Constitution and the rule of law is being attacked on many fronts.  I have written extensively about all of this. 

In this commentary, I am going to suggest one strategy that could reverse this trend, although it will require a great deal of courage on the part of those who accept my thesis.       

We have often been told that to effect political change we need to organize and band together otherwise we won’t be heard.  I am going to suggest that to make the kinds of changes we need to preserve our Democracy requires something more personal than that.   

What is needed now, in my view, are not citizens banding together to identify themselves with a particular group, party, or organization, but rather individual citizens having the courage to exercise their own best judgment independently and responsibly without regard to what everyone or anyone else might be doing.

In other words, we need citizens who have the courage to stand alone, if need be, in coming into alignment with their own clear values.  Specifically, I propose that there is one clear value to which each of us must align if we’re to save our country:  we all must, as individuals, be willing to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution against all its enemies foreign and domestic.     

And here’s how we do it:  

I suggest that when voting for any elected official, regardless of the office they hold or want to hold (whether it be local, state, or national), that the primary criteria for selecting the person who will ultimately get our vote, comes in asking this question:  which candidate running for this office can we trust with confidence to honor his or her oath of office.  Bear in mind, that the only oath any elected official takes before assuming the responsibilities of the office to which they were elected, is their sacred promise to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution against all its enemies foreign or domestic.  If they can’t be trusted to do that above all else, they don’t deserve to hold public office… any public office.   

Framers of the Constitution and their successors had great wisdom when they made that oath a prerequisite for holding office.  They knew that the only security we really have as a people is our ability to trust one another.  It is our ability to trust the word of our elected representatives that allows us to go about our daily lives and concentrate on our jobs and other responsibilities with confidence; we can’t do that unless we are sure that our children’s freedom are in the sure hands of people we can trust.    

Certainly, we face difficult choices when it comes to solving our political differences, meeting challenges, or taking advantage of opportunities.  But no matter what lies ahead, surely we will only succeed if we and our elected representatives share one sacred value that is common to all of us:  The preservation of rights and freedoms that our forebears gave their lives and limbs to secure for all of us. The preservation of those rights and freedoms are spelled out in our country’s founding document: The Constitution.     

So I am not suggesting that you vote for any particular ideology.  Nor am I suggesting that every citizen will interpret every clause of the Constitution in the same way.  But there are some aspects of the Constitution that are inviolable:  the right to a fair trial, the right to defend yourself and be represented by counsel, the right to face your accusers, the right to be considered innocent until proved guilty, the right not to be mistreated, the right to your privacy, the right to speak your mind, the right to pray or not pray as you see fit, the right to vote and have your vote properly counted, the right to expect that your government will operate at all levels with integrity and transparency, the right to expect that no person in the land will be allowed to hold him or herself above the law, and the right not to be lied to or cheated by those who took an oath to defend these principles with their lives...     

What I am suggesting is that before you consider any candidate for public office that you satisfy yourself that that person in question can be counted on to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.  If in your best judgment you don’t think they understand what is required of them or if you think they don’t consider that oath as the single most important job they have, then I suggest you not consider them eligible to hold public office… any public office.  Do not vote for anyone no matter what their stated agenda or policies are if you are not convinced they understand what their primary job is and have the character to do that job... which is to say, keep their word by honoring their oath of office.     

It is my personal belief that if a critical mass of citizens were to vote only for qualified citizens as I have suggested, it would transform our government from what it is today to one that would be competent to find realistic solutions to problems that currently threaten our way of life.  It is not terrorists who threaten our way of life; what threatens our way of life are persons who haven’t the character, vision, or integrity to tell the truth or keep their word of honor.     

If we are honorable about voting as I have suggested, we will choose representatives who are honorable… and our Democracy will endure.  If we do not, I don’t believe our Democracy will endure.     

What I have suggested above doesn’t require anything of you other than that you vote with integrity.  Easier said than done.  

If you find candidates in the next election who measure up to this standard, then by all means vote for them.  If they do not measure up, don’t vote for them.  If you don’t believe that any of the candidates running are qualified under this criteria then you might consider running for office yourself.  If you don’t want to run, then work to find qualified people who are willing to run.  But never vote for any person who you do not believe has enough character to keep their oath of office.

If we fail at this task, the great experiment of which we are all a part will also fail.  The character of the country you live in will be a reflection of your own character.  How much courage do you have?  How honorable are you to your own pledge of allegiance?

I will leave you with one ancillary reading (see link below) that is part of the argument I am making.  Near the bottom of that reading are additional links.  Follow each of those links.  They explain and expand my thesis and its implications.  If you care about your freedom and can understand what I have written here and there, I think we have a chance.  If we fail to elect representatives who will honorably defend our freedoms, we will, through negligence or ignorance, elect representatives who will not honorably defend our freedoms… and in my opinion, if we do that, those freedoms will be lost.

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