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Haupt’s Take: The people, the makers of law

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By William Haupt III | Haupt’s Take

“So many people contend with so many bad laws because they do not take the initiative to change them. Yet they have the power if they choose to — to pass better laws.” (Chris McCandes)

Much has been said about our founders when they embarked on their journey to form a union of states. Our great nation was not an accident. It was created like a well oiled machine and it took months to perfect it.

It took courage and myopic historical research to conjure up a government of the people controlled by the people and not a gang of dictatorial hooligans. The best and brightest studied efficacious governing from past regimes to amalgamate the elements of one nation under God with liberty and justice for all!

“America is great because God made her so!” (Bishop Sheen)

Our democratic republic was a growth out of necessity rather than an idea that had come to mind. The founders chose to give us a republic for many reasons. This enabled them to maintain limited central control and guaranteed the states local autonomy over their own turf.

But since in a republic voters do not govern directly and select representatives to speak for them that has become a major problem. Thomas Paine saw the writing on the cobblestone walls and expressed this before the convention. Because of that very one reason he was locked out at the front door.

“A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody.” (Thomas Paine)

From the moment our republic was proposed representatives were not bound to slavishly uphold the wishes of constituents, but to exercise their judgment. To conciliate the colonies, they put in periodic reviews of these assemblymen every few years. Voters could remove them from office and elect others who would manage the people’s government better.

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This was developed with good intentions but it started decaying when Hamilton and Jefferson formed political parties. That gave birth to the party machine. Then the lobbyists and special interest groups entered the tabernacles of congress which gave us a cocktail ripe for aversion and umbrage to American voters.

“Too often government responds to the whispers of lobbyists before the cries of the people.” (Andrew Cuomo)

The founders did not believe in direct democracy but in a republic which is a different creature than a democracy. They saw problems with giving too much abolition to the people and felt delegates with honor and integrity could do a better job governing. They feared passion could arouse the public, and our nation would be held hostage to passion over reason. They wanted control over most national policy. They expected these men to be impervious to corruption.

But political parties made this a pipedream! And today few representatives work for the people which is not republican.

“Today politics is such a disgrace; good people don’t go into government.” (Donald Trump)

One man can’t change the culture of corruption in DC. We have gone in the wrong direction too long. We must turn back the hands of time. If we reflect on the governments of the past, and the work of Periclies of Athens, the grandfather of democracy, we can see government of the people, by the people impacts all important decisions made that directly influence most laws passed by Congress.

Instead of kicking back and watching the world go by as career politicians do their dirty work, it is time all Americans commit to the principles birthed by Periclies in 451 BC.

“Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.” (Periclies)

Although our founders believed the people were incapable of self-rule that was before party politics
corrupted the more perfect union they fabricated for us. For over two centuries career politicians
made decisions for us; yet this is a government of the people?

It is time Americans seize a rebirth of republicanism and make law not an army of patricians. Our new chief of staff is chastised by the progressive press daily for being American. Many in Congress and naïve voters play “follow the lead” of the press.

We’ve never had a better chance to be lawmakers instead of law talkers. No longer is it “To the victor go the spoils.” President Trump reminded us government belongs to us.

“Freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it.” (Periclies)

Periclies told us, “If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice to all in their private differences. If a man is able to serve the state; he is not hindered by the obscurity of his condition.” He believed that the freedom we enjoy in our government extends to all ordinary people and they have the responsibility to assume an active role in government to protect that.

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He told the people of Athens there is no body of men who have the authority to entertain direct surveillance over the legislative process which belongs to the people. He claimed the values of equality and openness in governing does not belong to any select group and everyone should have a voice in the process of making all law since they are the ones who must abide by them and they are fair judges of public matter.

“It is more of a disgrace to be robbed of what one has than to fail in some new undertaking.” (Periclies)

Although we do not have direct democracy in our republic, we have it in over 50 percent of our states. It is time for us to use it to protect our states rights and set an example for Congress. We must show them ordinary people can make better law than them.

There is no doubt they will get the message and we have a president that will remind them of this. Once citizens manifest their ability to write and pass constitutional law that improves their lives rather than limits their liberty, with the blessing of our new leader they will come around or lose their jobs next election.

“Make up your minds that happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous.” (Periclies)

The conundrum about our government is since political parties were born Congress has become a circus than a body of respected lawmakers. It is up to us to right the ship before it sinks like the Titanic. How do you fix an unhealthily democracy? Get involved.

Propose legislation and send it to your elected officials then hound them for an answer. This applies to all levels of government in our country. Remind them there is an election coming up and their seat is up for grabs. We have the power to replace them each election. Call, email and write them and admonish them. They work for you in your house. It is not theirs. Make them aware of this each election. There is nothing more sacred to a career politician than his seat in Congress or on the county commission. Just ask former president Obama.

“Elections have consequences, and at the end of the day, I won.” (Pres. Obama)

There’s no better way to make lawmakers pass laws you want than to form a movement of patriots who feel the same as you. The more people who join you, the more noise they can make, and the more things you can accomplish just like Dr. Martin Luther King. A team is harder to beat than one individual that is playing for himself alone. Ask any Tennessean how they ended forced annexation.

“When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.” (Ronald Reagan)

If you can read the Constitution, you can write a law. You don’t need to be a legal beagle to tender changing something that needs to be fixed for the common good of all. Write your proposal clearly so they can understand it. You’d be surprised how much you can accomplish by demonstrating to them if they won’t do it, the citizens will.

“Let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far we disapprove of monarchy, that in America the law is king!” (Thomas Paine)

This article was written by a contributor from Franklin Center’s independent network of writers, bloggers, and citizen journalists. 

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William Haupt III is a retired professional journalist, citizen legislator in California for 40 plus years, and author. He got his start working to approve prop 13.