Today many American elected officials are missing opportunities to emphasize the need to understand and apply the role of ‘societal stewardship’ in this democracy and its capitalistic economy.
What is societal stewardship? It is inclusive consideration of the needs of communities, their economies, resources and environments.
All Americans, would be well advised to read the Declaration of Independence and then its idealistic U.S. Constitution, which establishes that “We, the People” agree to be governed by a ‘representative form of government’, wherein elected officials represent our personal values and goals. The American Democracy was established before 1776 when the elected leaders of the original 13 British colonies assembled in Philadelphia to declare their independence as a nation. Then that same assembly crafted the U.S. Constitution as the basic law of this land. It was ratified by the constituencies of each of those 13 Original States 240 years ago.
The original U.S. Constitution was improved and made more inclusive as evidenced by the addition of the first ten amendments, known today as the ‘Bill of Rights’ (ratified September 1791), and written down to protect ‘We, the People’. Since then, an additional 17 Amendments have been ratified. The most significant are the abolition of slavery (No. 13, ratified December 1865); prohibiting denial of right to vote based on race, color or ‘previous condition of servitude’ (No. 15, ratified January 1870) and prohibiting the denial of the right to vote based on sex (No. 19, ratified August 1920).
The U.S. Constitution separated the authority and power of governance by defining the President’s role and authority as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and, during wartimes, as its Commander in Chief (CIC). The role of the U.S. Congress, as its deliberative body of elected officials who have the responsibility to craft needed laws; endorse the President’s nominations to the President’s Cabinet and to approve candidates proposed to be members of the Judiciary branch (.i.e. the U.S. Federal Courts, especially its U.S. Supreme Court).
The outcome was three branches of governance: Executive; Legislative; and Judicial. Two more are The Press ‘and State’s Rights. It is very important to understand, support, and sustain the Free Press and its influence, but also the power of The Press.
Almost immediately, The independent free Press was recognized as the Fourth Estate of governance because all concepts were presented, evaluated, and debated publicly in local newsletters prior to ending up in the U.S. Constitution. Open and transparent nonviolent deliberation by all constituents was encouraged and practiced. During those times (1700’s), each community had its own newsletter and/or newspaper…independently owned and operated by local citizens. The Federalist Papers was one such example.
Just recently, persistent ‘free press’ inquiries led to the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who had been appointed by President Trump to his Cabinet. Flynn had a dinner meeting on December 25, 2016 with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. Flynn had ‘mis-spoken’ to the President and Vice President about this dinner meeting and its conversations, with the consequence that his integrity and trustworthiness had been compromised. Trump accepted Flynn’s resignation. It is the role of the free and independent press to look into and report to the American public the truth and facts of any matter. Especially those issues dealing with national security. This is an example of the powerful influence of the free and independent press in any democratic community. The press is essential to keeping citizens educated and informed. Historically, the free independent press has been and is successfully eliminated by any and all dictators.
This San Jose community needs to support its local independent free publications because today many so-called ‘local publications’ are controlled and operated by corporations having special interests. There is an opportunity for local readers to practice societal stewardship by ensuring that their local independent free press remains as such one.
There are ultimately severe consequences to not having the facts or truth of any matter which impacts any and all decisions in this life. Just know that reporters and journalists may look into matters which the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of our government may not fully expose in a transparent factual manner to its constituents. This role of the free press is essential to the informed decision-making activities of its citizens, legislators and leadership. Democracy cannot exist for long where the free press is controlled by the government (or a dictator).
A fifth additional element of governance exists, but is not fully appreciated, understood or used: THE STATES RIGHTS. The 9th and 10th Amendment state that “all responsibilities and authorities not specifically granted to the central Federal government remain as ‘powers residing within the States.’ Today the fifty American States all have their own legislatures in which States Rights are practiced and redefined. Here is where societal stewardship may be practiced in a manner that reflects the priorities and values of each state’s constituents. It is here where the States, using their authority and power to license businesses or grant charters to institutions, may establish local laws which require an enterprises’ decision makers to deal with societal stewardship in addition to being profitable.