Happy Independence Day! This week we celebrate 242 years as an independent nation. One of the key tenants in our Declaration of Independence is “government by consent of the governed.” Our system works because we the people collectively decide and “consent” to how our government will be structured. We agree to obey its laws, and change them by working within the process we collectively approve. It’s a great system, as evidenced by the fact that 242 years later, we are still the most prosperous, powerful nation on earth.
Unfortunately, as I watch the fireworks bursting in air this week, I am reminded how often the fireworks exploding in our country are between us! America is still a nation of citizens who disagree. Even in a small town like ours people can have very different views and beliefs.
So, how does any “government” – city, state or national – know they truly have the “consent” of the governed? Is a majority of 51% enough, or is 60, 70 or even 80% required?
In the last presidential election, over 80% of Knox County voters helped elect President Trump. But, I bet far less than 80% will agree with him on any specific issue, like abortion, a border wall, or trade tariffs.
Likewise, our Governor Matt Bevin, a republican, got two times more Knox County votes than all his competitors combined. Andy Beshear got only 34% of the Knox voters support, but he won statewide. These two men strongly disagree about what is best for Kentucky. Beshear has brought multiple lawsuits to stop policies and laws Bevin supports and even several the legislature has passed, from going into effect. Clearly, the fireworks between our Governor and AG are intense.
Why, even locally, not that long ago, our own Knox County School board was so fiercely divided.Even routine bills could not get paid. Every vote was a 2-2 tie. Do you remember?
Yet, somehow, our system of democracy, as crazy as it is, still works. Our differences, while so real they even caused a civil war, have not overcome our unifying principles.
So as you watch the fireworks this holiday, (90% of which come from China, a country with whom we are now in a trade war), let’s celebrate being American. And even though we argue amongst ourselves about the direction we take as a country, state, county or even as a city, I think it’s great thing that we the people still have the final say. What do you think?