In the wake of the 2012 General Election, there have been many calls for our state and our nation to come together in a renewed spirit of bi-partisanship. For all of us who attest to the wisdom in the phrase “united we stand, divided we fall,” it is clear that we all need to come together.
We have a simple question to answer before this goal can become a reality, though. What are we to unify behind?
Shall we unify behind an individual? How about a single political party? As a student of history, I would recommend that we avoid either of these approaches as they tend not to end well. In their stead, though, I would submit that the best choice would be to unify behind the core principles that all of us have unified behind since our founding. After all, America is a land of ideals. While we are a land of many individuals and multiple political parties, we were founded on one common set of truths. These truths are defined in the Declaration of Independence and codified into law via our U.S. Constitution.
The Declaration of Independence bound us together at a time when outside forces threatened to tear us apart. When our Founding Fathers found their backs against the wall, they chose to make the following bold declaration: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”.
The Preamble of our U.S. Constitution goes so far as to attest that the purpose of that document is “to form a more perfect union”. If our goal is to unify our country, perhaps we should give it another look.
Adherence to the principles within these documents has kept our constitutional republic together for over 225 years. During that same time period, there have been 15 new constitutions in France and 4 in Russia. No country in existence today has lived under the same governance framework longer than the United States of America. Clearly, these documents have stood the test of time.
What remains is for us to rededicate ourselves to the truths they contain. Thomas Jefferson once remarked that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”. If we are truly interested in unifying our nation, I humbly request that each of us commit ourselves to reading the full text of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. They are not long documents. For the time it takes to watch a TV show, we can each do our part to help unify our country.
Once you have read each document, I encourage you to test the words and policies of politicians against the principles found in these documents. If our elected officials veer away from these principles, it is time for a unified “We the People” to remind them that their just powers are derived “from the consent of the governed."
Sen. Patrick Colbeck