To make this more interesting, we're gonna label "the people" as an abused partner in a long standing relationship. We were sick of being abused by the King of England, so we got Thomas Jefferson to write a "Dear John" letter, known as the Declaration of Independence. "Enough! You suck, here's why and bye!" We definitely didn't have a clean break, but we survived- some of us anyway. Obviously we were a little scarred from that relationship, and it showed in our first Constitution- The Articles of Confederation. We weren't so interested in giving away our power, and like a rebound relationship, it failed...
After a few years of nursing our wounds and boosting our confidence, we got our act together, and decided the best relationship would be one where the power was divided equally. So we drafted the 2nd Constitution. It was better, but we were still a little bit scared, so we amended it, and added the Bill of Rights to "ensure" our freedoms- you know freedom of speech, our right to keep and bear arms, freedom of religion etc. Since the first ten amendments, we've added a few, and slowly but surely, because we weren't paying attention, some of our most basic rights are being threatened and taken away. Before we repeat history again, perhaps we should review a little how things are set up...(I'm thinkin' we might wanna keep the "house" this time.)
Our government (Federalism-Division of power), is divided into 3 categories. The Legislative Branch makes laws for the nation. The main body of this branch is the Congress, which is divided into 2 parts- the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Executive Branch makes sure the laws from the former, are followed. The President, Vice-President and the "Cabinet" (15 members who offer advice on "important decisions") head up this branch. The Judicial Branch is made up of a series of courts- the highest court is the Supreme Court, which interprets the nation's laws and acts accordingly...
So what are the "laws" and how are they passed? National Laws are laws everyone has to follow, while individual State Laws are only good in those individual states. National Laws are passed in Congress, and then signed into law by the President. In order to make a law, a "Bill," or draft is written of a proposed law, and then passed out to each Senator. A "Standing Committee" (legislators) review the bill and does one of 3 things: 1. Sends the proposed Bill back with no changes. 2. Makes changes and sends it back. 3. Tables it(does nothing). If there were no changes, the proposed Bill gets penciled into the Senate's calendar, and the majority(over half) have to agree for it to slide to the House of Representatives. It then goes through the same process before it gets a date with the President. He can pass the Bill or reject the Bill(veto). If he rejects it, the Bill can still become law with 2/3rds of the Senate and 2/3rds of the House votes(super majority). It can also become law if the President doesn't sign it for 10 days...
Obviously, it's important who makes up these Bills and who passes them into Law. So how does that happen? The President is Commander in Chief, and is a pretty important person, so we control who gets that esteemed and powerful position with our votes right? Wrong. Say hello to the "Electoral College." Under Article 2, we have an "Indirect Democracy." In other words, this power doesn't rest with the people, it rests with "proportional representation." Since 1964, the first candidate to get to 270 Electoral College votes, wins. The "popular vote" doesn't elect the President, the Electoral College elects the President.
Only in theory does the "popular vote" elect the President. Doesn't matter if the scales are off. A President can still win even if he doesn't win the "popular vote." Remind you of any past election?.. In short, our forefathers always knew the country would be divided into "factions" in some way, and they didn't want to give any certain "faction" that kind of power- so they compromised, and set up a "filter." This power is reserved for an "elite few." Technically, the Electoral College doesn't have to vote with the "popular vote"- only the "Unwritten Constitution" states that... If no candidate gets 270, the House of Representatives votes in the President- this shows our forefathers lack of "trust" in a true "democracy." Better get that in your head. You live in an "Indirect Democracy." Look it up...
Sooooo, let's talk about Presidential power- specifically "Implied Power." When the President does something not specifically delegated in the Constitution, they can claim that power IS derived from something that IS delegated. For example, something perhaps in the interests of "National Security." Some of us may not realize it, but the President doesn't declare war. Congress declares war. There hasn't been a declared war since WWII. So how have we gone to war so many times since the last major world war? Executive Power is the answer. Have you looked at the list of Executive Powers? You might want to go read my other post "Fire in the WHOLE!" to find out exactly what kind of power the Commander in Chief really has. It's very important that you know this. I repeat, this IS VERY IMPORTANT.
All of us need to gain a better understanding and perspective of our government. The "voice of the people" does need to be heard, but it needs to be heard by educated minds. Our forefathers set up a form of government with several checks and balances, in an effort to keep America safe from itself and what it would become. It was a step in a different direction. They knew there would always be difference of opinion. They knew there would be separation and factions. They knew there needed to be change and the need for change would always be. They also knew, that change was up to us- the people.
We also need to gain a better understanding of the people who founded our government. Twenty four of the signers of the Declaration, were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, while nine of them were farmers and large plantation owners. They were men of means, yet they all accepted penalty of death for their actions if captured. Many of these men died and many of them suffered- greatly. We don't hear or read of their sacrifices enough. It would serve you well to research their lives. They valued liberty with their lives for our future security. We should honor their deaths with our very lives. It is our turn. This is our time. We have been sleeping, and the rooster beckons us to wake. Time waits for no man...
"Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family or class of men; therefore the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity and happiness require it." -John Adams
"A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor and bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government... The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first... I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." -Thomas Jefferson
I would encourage you to read our fore-fathers words and works in your journey to understand more about our government. Read the Federalist Papers. It will open your eyes. You will see how they looked at us, government and our future as a nation. Don't limit yourself in the process either. Keep an open mind. Understand things might not be the way you were brought up to believe, or even want to believe. It's a hard pill to swallow that our fore-fathers didn't trust a true "democracy." It's difficult to believe your vote doesn't truly determine the outcome of the election of the highest position in the country. Does that mean you shouldn't vote? Absolutely not. Energy flows where attention goes. We need more people to understand not only the workings of our government, but it's history as well. Don't take any single person's word for it- find out for yourself. If you don't trust the government, you don't trust yourself. At the core of the institutions of man, is man himself. If we want change, we have to change- Revolution begins with us.
The fate of our future, lies in our hands. Everyday, we are losing more of our freedoms from a machine our founders tried to slow down. They knew if we became complacent, the worst could happen. It is happening. Don't fool yourself into thinking this doesn't deserve your attention. IT DOES. There will come a time when you will have to make difficult decisions and you had better know where you stand when you have to make those decisions. Make sure you review history- It is the forecast of things to come. The state of the world is at critical mass. Whether you to choose to face it or willfully ignore it, is up to you. Make sure that YOU WILL BE AFFECTED WHETHER YOU WANT TO BE OR NOT. Get involved and make a difference while you can. Don't worry about where you start or how you start. Start somewhere. Start now. "Be the change you wish to see in the world." -Ghandi
www.youtube.com -Hip Hughes History
The Declaration of Independence (found in a series of books by the Great Books Foundation)
The Articles of Confederation
The United States Constitution
The Federalist Papers (specifically Fed 10)