Actions Speak Louder

…than words, and yet there’s so much talking and so little doing these days.  Do our elected politicians even care about their duty to the country and to each of us?  Because this whole partisan brinksmanship game they keep playing pretty much ‘says’ they don’t…

“We ought to consider what is the end of government, before we determine which is the best form. Upon this point all speculative politicians will agree, that the happiness of society is the end of government, as all divines and moral philosophers will agree that the happiness of the individual is the end of man. From this principle it will follow, that the form of government which communicates ease, comfort, security, or, in one word, happiness, to the greatest number of persons, and in the greatest degree, is the best.”

~ John Adams, Thoughts on Government, April 1776


Do we actually believe that the silly games our elected government wants to continue to play have resulted in the people having ease, comfort, and security (let alone happiness) in their lives?  Does anyone in this country feel better as we lurch from one crisis to the next?  Crises that are brought on by politicians who cannot seem to comprehend that their duty is to the citizens of America, and that that duty requires more than doing the bare minimum to avert disaster every time.  Are we more secure when we put our military and federal departments through the chaos of large, un-thought out cuts?  Are we more at ease knowing our government hasn’t had a budget in years, and therefore cannot possibly have a long term, legitimately-considered plan to both fund the workings of government and pay down our debts?  With a continuing unemployment problem and a slow economy felt by the vast majority of citizens, can we really say they’ve made any real strides in increasing our comfort?  Are we the people happy with the way things are in our country?  When we’re answering these basic questions with “no” on every count, there is a problem.  The founding fathers didn’t create our system without purpose, or with the intention that only politicians would profit from the workings of our government.  They fundamentally believed that government is meant to serve the people, and that when it ceases to do that, change isn’t just a catchphrase or an option, it’s a necessity.

The founding fathers didn’t just philosophize about change and compromise and good governance, they worked hard to achieve it.  They came together, they argued, they considered, and then they came to common ground because they had to do something.  There wasn’t any viable way to kick the job to others down the road or to put in place half-measures that didn’t really solve their issues, they simply had to do the hard work of finding a way to govern while balancing a multitude of goals and interests.  No one pointed fingers at the other side saying ‘it’s all their fault nothing has happened, blame them when everything falls apart,’ they just worked even harder to find the compromises that everyone could live with.  And let’s not be confused, it included some nasty ones along with the rest of them.  As Alexander Hamilton would put it, they were the “result of the spirit of accommodation which governed the convention; and without this indulgence no Union could possibly have been formed.”  Or basically, if compromises hadn’t been made between groups (North and South, Federalist and Anti-Federalist) with differing ideas and goals, there would be no America as we know it today.  And let’s get real, there will be no America as we know it tomorrow if our government continues to be incapable of functioning.  Eventually we all hang together or we all hang separately.


Res Publica


Documentation Without Representation:

~John Adam’s Thoughts on Government, 1776

Electronic Text Courtesy of PBS

~Alexander Hamilton, Speech on the Compromises of the Constitution, 1788

Electronic Text Courtesy of the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University


2 Comments on “Actions Speak Louder”

  1. Sam February 21, 2013 at 8:37 am #

    What about slavery?

  2. theangryhistorian February 28, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

    Its funny….the Founders (even the slave-holding ones) considered slavery to be abhorrent and against the spirit of the Constitution and the new nation’s founding principles. That was also a compromise they made….a distinctly unsavory one, and one counter to much of what they knew to be right. Many thought that the Constitutional provisions added that banned the slave trade after a certain amount of time would effectively cause slavery to die out naturally. They didn’t think they were kicking slavery down the road, they thought they had come up with a way to end it slowly, rather than abruptly. Obviously, they were wrong, in pretty much every sense of the word. But then, you have to give the Founding Fathers credit for knowing that they would make mistakes, and leaving the tools behind to correct it (most notably the amendment process).

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