All political parties, especially Democratic, Independent, and Republican, would be well advised to examine how their ‘Leadership’ is selected and appointed. The traditional reliance on norms which may be defined as unwritten rules, standards of behavior, and traditional expectations of our social and business interactions process. An analogy is the “unwritten English Law” which exists and is practiced even though it remains unwritten. Current issues are adjudicated in courts which are traditionally the non-political third branch of governance (Legislative; executive, and judicial). The least understood is the Judicial system which settles ‘in a court having jurisdiction’ issues such as divorces, contract disputes, personal injury disputes, property rights and inheritance issues, tax appeals, etc.
This nation’s current ‘elected president’ was enabled by the existing reliance on many norms which Mr. D.J. Trump could ignore. When challenged, Trump could respond “Who says so” since the violated norm is understood that it will be followed even though several definitions apply and individuals each have their own opinion. But when an individual is amoral, unethical, and willing to do anything and everything ‘to win’, the reality is that many unwritten norms are easy to set aside and do what is advantageous. Some sort of push back by interested and affected parties is required.
One important unwritten norm is that America has ideals which enable many cultures, races, nationalities and religions to live together in peace and harmony. Men (and women) are all equal (under the laws of this land). A major current issue is that the administration, practice, and implementation of the ‘law of this land’ is not even handed nor fair.
Essential to Democracy is having individuals who are informed, educated and religious. The influence of religions has diminished over the years by the misunderstanding of “the separation of church and state”, even though the Constitution’s First Amendment ensure the freedom of religion; one of our personal choices’ is a personal freedom and civil right. This separation of church and state standard was intended to prevent high church officials from meddling with the affairs of the State (formation of and application of ‘public policy’ adopted after debates and negotiation by elected officials. The laity is free to continue to be involved in affairs of the state, especially as voters.
However, it is during ‘personal religious training and indoctrination’ that we learn the Decalogue (10 Commandments). The first four have to do with one’s relationship to GOD and the following six
Commandments, beginning with “Honor your father and mother” and ending with “You shall not covet your neighbor’s property.” All religious faiths have some version of these rules which are the basis of civil behavior.
Today, the following commandments are being violated by too many of our leaders: You shall not steal; kill (do no murder), be a false witness; and covet your neighbor’s property.
Other teachings learned during religious studies were “be a good Samaritan practicing stewardship”, and “deal with others as you would have them deal with you.”
These standards of behavior, when practiced, result in having ‘a civil society’ wherein individuals, communities and nations may thrive.
Today, it does not take much effort to find egregious violations of one or more of the above standards. Examples are: Bank officials who had employees establish accounts without authorization of the individual client involved. These accounts in great numbers inflated the ‘market value of the firm’. When discovered by the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), the banking firm was fined millions of dollars, however not one of the banking officials involved ended up serving prison sentences ‘for stealing’ and ‘false witness’.
Auto firms have quietly found ways for their engineers to get around ‘air pollution/emission’ standards. And when discovered were fined millions of dollars. Again, no individual experienced ‘legal due process’ and was given a prison sentence.
The current investigations by Mueller reveals several instances wherein individuals were ‘false witnesses’ who communicated fabrications (lies, propaganda), but not what actually happened. An appointed Special Counsel Mueller will soon give his report to the U.S. Congress and American Public.
CA’s Supreme Court’s Chief Justice, Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye was the featured speaker at the Rotary Club of San Jose. Her topic could not be more relevant: Restoring Civics and Civility, and why it matters for our Democracy’s survival. She is of Philippine heritage and was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown. She is the embodiment of the diversity and of women’s ability to be professional leaders.
During her presentation a recurring theme was that ‘face-to-face’ communication is essential to learning about one another; to understanding the common issues being faced by all of us, and to establishment of the trust in each other essential to negotiations, understanding, acceptance, and compromises needed for the existence of a ‘civil society’. She has organized ‘groups of experts’ in civics (can you believe over 2,000 of them?). These experts go to high schools and civic groups to communicate: 1) Why civics is important; 2) What are the basic rules one must know; and 3) Why it matters. I would add: 4) Why our judicial court system must always remain non-political and be reasonably underwritten (i.e., always have adequate budget support, even during State Budget shortfalls, because ‘life in the community goes on even during recessions. All kinds of disputes and issues need to be addressed and resolved (adjudicated); receive due process all the time. All sorts of disputes, property rights, personal injuries, elder abuse, spousal abuse, etc. In addition, the entire court system’s facilities must become totally updated with regard to digital communications systems, record systems, and possess an electronic capability to take the ‘court’s judicial proceedings to the people.
My daughter, Mrs. Mary Morales Rustia, a bio-tech science teacher, asked the Chief Justice “What are you doing to deal with the ‘School infractions which send youth to prisons (another pipeline)?” Mary was referred to an aide who provided contact information to those dealing with these issues.
We, who are persons of color, need to become able to stand up and push back ‘in our courts’ because we are the victims who can best, from experience, formulate the questions, which lead to the research that resolves or mitigates the issue addressed. We know that there are many issues, but that is no reason to stand on the sidelines.
CA has a very diverse population by any measure applied (social, economics, culture, and political ideology amongst other ‘metrics’). Collectively ad in solidarity, our efforts result in having CA become the 5thlargest economy on this globe; we should not be governed and guided by Washington, D.C., but rather continue to be the leader the other 49 states check out to see where the cutting edge of ‘change’ is today.
Our California Supreme Court Chief Justice, Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye is the first Asian-Filipino American and the second woman to serve as this State’s Chief Justice. She has emerged as one of America’s leading advocates for equal access to justice, transparency, and reform of state court funding models which unfairly impact the poor.
It was a unique opportunity to see and listen to the current leader of California’s Judicial Courts.
Millennial youth of color would be well advised to learn their civics and use this woman as their role model. And to consider learning to become expert ‘knowledge workers’ in a field of their choice. Just consider the impact this woman has on improvements needed to create accessible justice in CA.