September 17, 1787. It had begun, the Great American Experiment. After four months of discussion, debates and walkouts, a group of state delegates voted in favor of a Constitution that would form the governing structure of a united states of America. In spite of great differences in opinion and fears of each other, a body of delegates engaged with each other, all making compromises and concessions to achieve a goal of uniting fledgling states to a common cause. Many of those compromises could never have been made under the belief systems and attitudes of more modern times. Saying that those compromises were unique to the era is being polite; it was a starting point. The country has been through many harsh growing pains as it has smoothed out some of the inequities of those first compromises and it continues still in efforts to establish a just nation for all.
The structure of the Great American Experiment established checks and balances in an attempt to eliminate fears that any one person or body of people could assert dominion over the population; that structure created a legislative body, an executive body and a judicial body. The strength and importance of each of these three bodies has been on full view these last months.
The legislative body, our Congress, consists of two houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate; each made up of representatives elected under each state and a few recognized districts. Each house operates under administrative rules to balance their authorities and conduct the business of their citizens. It is a challenging position for any representative to promote the desires and opinions of their states or districts while recognizing the differences of others, each of whom have an equal right to voice and government toward common good. The legislature is intended to create law or modify law on behalf of or at the direction of its constituency; however, any one can draft a proposed law (bill): a legislative representative, the president or his executive team, a private citizen or group, a corporate entity. To become law, any bill must be reviewed and passed by both Congressional houses either in the form submitted or as amended by either or both houses. Many bills never make it to a review let alone a vote that may turn it into law.
Proceedings conducted in the House and the Senate are now easy to watch with our current technology, and as boring as it may be from time to time, it is equally encouraging to see how business is conducted. It allows every citizen across the nation to assess how these processes work and provide feedback that can help in decision-making, behavioral tones and legislative improvements. Representatives’ offices and staff are reachable by email; they are well equipped to track and weigh opinions received.
The executive body is made up of our President and executive appointments made by the President including the presidential cabinet and executive departments such as Defense, State, Justice, Education, Labor and such. The President is elected every four years by a voting age population of the nation who register under the laws and rules governing voter registration enacted in one’s state of residency. The electoral college, established at the time the Constitution was adopted, grants every state a certain number of electoral votes based on the state’s population. Those electoral votes are assigned to a particular presidential candidate based again on a particular state’s laws and rules governing its electoral votes; most often all electoral votes are assigned to the candidate winning the popular vote of the state. A few states will split its electoral votes proportionally among the presidential candidates based on votes received. There is disagreement about whether the electoral college is outdated and elections should be based only on a nationwide popular vote. The Great Experiment may well see this elective process change as the experiment proceeds. Regardless, it is the voice of the people that will continue to install a president every four years. Exercising the right to vote is a privilege; insuring the right to vote is essential.
The President and executive staff are in place to serve the best interests of the nation. The policies and activities of these executive offices are monitored by news reporters and investigative journalists. Information can be obtained through sites such as those listed below. More information typically becomes available as transition of administrations are put in place and teams organize to respond to the public and provide information.
The judicial body is in place to protect the laws and rights guaranteed under the Constitution over any policy or procedure that seeks to subvert these rights; it is in place to preserve those rights, to assess, make judgment, and explain its judgment when questions of conduct or the right of persons or institutions assert positions which push up against established law. The judicial body is an enforcer, an interpreter of the laws and decisions passed by the legislative body; it has no authority to write new law. Its authority to interpret law has affected and will continue to affect how law is applied. Information about the judicial branch of government and the conduct of this body is also accessible to the population through technology. Arguments brought before the Court to be reviewed can often be viewed or listened to live, with later recordings available.
There are countries that hold up the Great American Experiment as an example and other countries that seek to degrade it. We can be certain that there will always be some individuals or groups, both from inside and outside the US, that will seek to control, manipulate or destroy this Experiment, The Great American Experiment: to form, by the People of the United States, “…a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and to our Posterity…” It is our Experiment, one that requires the participation of all the People to preserve it, to move it through its growing pains, and to protect those truths upon which it was founded, those truths held 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.”