“America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination”
— Harry S. Truman
Happy Birthday, America!
The 4th is one of my favorite holidays, second only to Thanksgiving. The birth of our nation, the founding of our republic, and the commencement of a grand experiment in Democracy.
There is a story, often told, that upon exiting the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin was approached by a group of citizens asking what sort of government the delegates had created. His answer was: “A republic, if you can keep it.” Democratic republics are not merely founded upon the consent of the people, they are also absolutely dependent upon the active and informed involvement of the people for their continued good health.
Take a quick moment to review the first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence.
The Declaration of Independence:
“The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.”
I’ve read these words over and over, it clearly states when a government no longer meets the needs of the people, we are compelled to separate ourselves from that government. The problem with that is that under a monarchy, autocracy, or authoritarian government, the only way to make a change is a revolution. A revolution that will cost lives, economic injury and not necessarily lead to a better government, but to government organized by the leaders of the revolution, who were best capable of waging a war. It’s a vexing problem that has played out over the course of human history. Whole civilizations have been destroyed because modifications to the government could not be achieved incrementally or systemically but through war and revolution.
The genius of the Constitution is that it created checks and balances in government so that the tyranny of the majority would be held in check. It established the rule of law and clear guidelines on our essential rights as citizens. The ebb and flow of political discourse, cultural change, and most importantly the needs of the people are managed in the framework of representative democracy. This allows the country to evolve to meet the needs of the people and the changing landscape of global and geopolitics. Think of a relief valve that lets out pressure, so the only option isn’t a revolution.
However, this only works if there is a peaceful transition of power at every election cycle. It’s a revolution of sorts but without the bloodshed, economic harm, and most importantly protect the rule of law. The Founding Fathers knew that the government would need to change from time to time so they create a profoundly better model to absorb the change. It’s why we have been so successful as a country.
The right to vote and the peaceful transition of power is the most important obligation of every citizen. We need to do everything we can without regard to party or ideology to ensure that we continue to be good stewards of a system of government that has set an example for the world over the last 250 years.
As such, I have decided to make November 3rd, 2020, Election Day, a companywide floating holiday. Think of it as a community day in which each of you is encouraged to take the day off so that you can vote and get involved with your communities to support the Election Day process. We are a company full of very smart and happy people that can make a difference. I pass no judgment on your political party or which candidate you’re voting for; I only ask that you fully participate in our democracy.
I hope you enjoy the 4th of July, spend time with your family and friends and remember we have a great country if we can keep it!
Let’s go be great,