The #1 duty of government is to protect its citizens. It’s the duty of the courts to uphold that principle.
We learned in school that our government would protect our freedoms of speech, the press, and assembly; our right to a fair trial; our right to vote and the right for a redress of grievances, which means we can point a gnarly finger at injustice without fear of punishment.
Our government also protects our right to bear arms and be free of unreasonable search and seizure.
The government does all this by maintaining law and order, primarily by hiring police and military. The reason for having laws is because we humans won’t control ourselves. We prefer that someone else, the government, deal with our misbehavior.
It sort of works. We know the penalties for various crimes and most of us are not willing to risk our freedom to commit murder, fraud, treason or kidnapping.
And yes, the government derails. Frequently. Lying about wars, hiding money, acting like some people deserve more than others because of their panache, neck color, or how big their purse is and how much is in it.
What’s our part in this play? We citizens have three major responsibilities – vote, serve on a jury when called, and pay taxes without much input on where that money goes.
Does obeying the law make us good citizens? No. Democracy is only as good as the quality of our thinking, whether it comes from books or an uncle. Our best shot at being good citizens is to pull our own weight.
What did our founders have in mind when they decided democracy was their preferred form of government? They hated paying a king who told them what to do. They wanted life to be fair. Well, except for women and natives. And Black and Irish. Poor people. Other than that, fair and square.
Two of our founders had interesting insight into democracy: Ben Franklin, a leader of the American Revolution, said, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.”
And Thomas Paine, another revolutionary, wrote a 49-page pamphlet called Common Sense, a moral and compelling argument in favor of democracy. Yet he’s remembered for saying, “A democracy is the most vile form of government there is!”
Nevertheless, his pamphlet brought the two camps of colonists together – those who were afraid to cut the cable with Mother England and those who insisted on it.
It’s kind of like that tonight, Election Night 2020. We’ve been saturated with this election and candidates who insisted they could best handle our national predicament for what, two years? Three? Andrew Yang announced he was running for president in November 2017, and Donald Trump filed to run again 10 months before that. So it’s been a while that we’ve been trying to crown a winner from among almost 30 contestants.
We’re worn out but exhilarated.
We did it. Our nation voted. We behaved like aware citizens. We defied six retrograde planets threatening chaos and confusion, a lung eating virus, and proved we’re not the weakest most powerful nation on earth.
And we don’t know who won. But after almost four years, another week of waiting is duck soup.