Monday, September 13, 2010

We The People

“We the people” three of the most powerful words in the English language.

When these words are used in the United States of America’s constitution, set it apart from any other constitution in the world.

Somehow, over the nearly two and a half centuries of being a Country, “We the People” has somehow diminished to mean nothing more than part of a civics lesson in High School quiz.

When the framers of the Constitution met and as they were working on framing a document that would bring self determining government to the thirteen colonies, one of the intentions was to promote active involvement with the affairs of government. The people were to be responsible for electing representatives to government. The people were to hold those people accountable for their actions, and for seeing that the wishes of the people were carried out.

Over the past few years there has been a growing unrest among American voters that the elected officials in office had somehow forgotten that they were there to represent the people, and not their own special interests.

I don’t think it was ever the intention for “The People” to go on holiday once their votes were cast, but it appears from my own observation that the holiday season is just about over. People have begun to wake up to the fact that without the vigilance of the voter, and needed accountability

Locally in California a small community was outraged to learn that 99% of the city council, the city manager, assistant city manager, and police chief, had voted themselves both pensions and salaries far beyond what could be defined as reasonable.

It also turns out that this was accomplished legally after a referendum was held; however only 400 out of a population of 40,000 voted, with the majority of voters voting in favor of the pay rises. This low number really stands out given that there are only 9000 registered voters in the city of Bell to begin with.

Although there have been recent allegations of possible voter fraud, the fact remains that the vast majority of those registered to vote made the decision not to take part in this special election.

There is a stark warning in the Book of Mormon concerning the consequences of either having an apathetic attitude, or in avoidance of participation in selecting who should represent us in government. We read in Mosiah chapter 29:25-27:

25 Therefore, choose you by the voice of this people, judges, that ye may be judged according to the laws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord.
26 Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law--to do your business by the voice of the people.
27 And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.

In the 2008 national elections, the number of voters who took part was approximately 131.3 million ballots or 61%. This is a high percentage, helped I would suggest by the fact there was an African American running for office. People tend to gravitate towards such “history making moments” as this.

According to data provided by the Federal Election Commission, from data drawn from Congressional Research Service reports, the average percentage however is a lot lower than 61%.

From the years 1990-2008 the average percentage of voter turn-out was 41.7% In other words, over half of the registered voters, 58.3% in the United States of America, made the decision not to take part in the electoral process over a ten year period. Over half.

Someone once said that if you don’t vote or take part in the political discussion, you don’t have the right to criticize the way that things are going locally, with the State, or nationally.

“We the People” have ended up with exactly the kind of men and women in local, statewide, or national office that we deserve.

It’s time to wake up and take back ground that was willingly given up. It’s time to wake up those elected officials and remind them that they are there because “We the People” elected them to represent us in this Republic.

It’s time for “We the People” to draw a line in the sand and declare that this Republic deserves men and women far better than we have in office.