The potential American republicanism, which I call just civic governance by justly governed citizens, evolved over the twelve years from declaring independence from England to ratifying the US Constitution: 1776-1788. The thirteen eastern seaboard colonies announced they were a union of states during the Continental Congress in 1774 and labeled their confederation the “United States of America” in the Articles of Confederation, 1777. They declared union unto perpetuity.
Just governance originates, but incompletely, in the Declaration of Independence, which the union of states issued in 1776:
Happiness. [T]o secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed (emphasis mine).
My paraphrase is: just civic governance comes from consent of the governed. That reaches part way to the American republicanism. But neither the necessity of governance nor purpose of the governed is explained in the Declaration, because the Articles of Confederation (1777) was not an inhabitants' constitution: it was a compact by states by elite patriots, and the people had not yet won independence from England.
Upon ratification in 1788, the preamble to the constitution for the USA specified just civic governance by justly governed citizens. However, no generation has accepted the preamble: The privilege of committing to civic morality remains for our generation . . . if we take it.
On June 8, 1783, having won independence that was acknowledged by England’s surrender in 1781, George Washington stated to American citizens, as I paraphrase: We have won independence and now turn our attention to domestic justice, for which the confederation of states is insufficient: we must have an inhabitants' republic, with a people's constitution. At first, the union of states responded by trying to strengthen the Articles of Confederation. Interestingly, Congress was not respected as a power--only as an influence--in the Treaty of Paris: Independence was granted to each state by name.
In 1787, the Constitutional delegates in Philadelphia elected George Washington to preside over debates toward organizing the governance of this country. Washington’s Virginia delegation arrived with a plan. Intentionally or not, the debates between the future "federalists" versus the states-rights delegates, who, during ratification, became the anti-federalists, went beyond the Declaration’s “consent of the governed,” creating governance with a monopoly on force in the hands of elite politicians. The signers, 71% of delegates from 12 states, or 2/3 of the people's representatives, perhaps unintentionally, gave inhabitants the gift of the preamble to the constitution for the USA, the potential for just civic governance by justly governed citizens. So far, citizens have not recognized their power to iteratively collaborate* to live in peace according to differing personal opinions.
It is interesting that the phrase “We the People of the United States,” is totalitarian, yet only 2/3 of the representatives signed it. We think it is important for people who want to use the preamble to appreciate that they are not of the dissenting faction of “We the People of the United States”---those who neglect the preamble. Further, we speculate that without traditional divisions such as religious opinion, 2/3 of inhabitants would want private-liberty-with-civic-morality (public integrity) instead of the domestic alienation based on temporal dominant opinion that is now suffered. We think under the Chapter XI Machiavellian imposed "freedom of religion," Christians don't realize how alienated they are among themselves: The First Amendment needs reform so as to protect liberty to think, a personal duty, instead of freedom of religion, a Chapter XI Machiavellian tyranny. In practice, religious coercion impedes private integrity and thus public integrity.
During ratification, Patrick Henry railed for states’ rights, against the constitution for the USA’s unique republic: “This . . . is the language of democracy; that a majority of the community have a right to alter their Government when found to be oppressive: But how different is the genius of your new Constitution from this?” During Virginia debates for ratification, Henry bid to replace “We the People of the United States,” with “We, the States,” to retain power in the Confederation of states in forming a federal government. The states’ rights argument continues in 2017, but citizens may, in the future, be grateful that the required nine states ratified without changing the preamble. A super majority, about 2/3 of representatives, voted for ratification in the necessary nine states (69%). So, affirmation of "We the People of the United States" never exceeded 71%, the vote among 14 states to ratify the Bill of Rights on December 15, 1791.
On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire, as the ninth of the required states, completed ratification. Henry’s state, Virginia, soon joined the USA, leaving only three independent states in the confederation. Eventually the other three joined, upholding their 1774 promises to the union of states “in perpetuity.” When all thirteen original states had ratified the representatives' vote was 65%.
As a union of thirteen states dating from 1774 but fulfilled by only nine states on June 21, 1788, the United States of America is no longer a confederation but is a nation. It is a representative, democratic-republic with the potential for just citizens to govern both their states and the union of states, each state under its constitution and the nation under the rule of law that is guided by the preamble. Ratification involved the promise of creating a Bill of Rights after Congress started operating, and that was done and ratified on December 15, 1791, completing the initially negotiated United States Constitution. President Obama, intentionally or not, would destroy this just civic governance with absolute federalism; I think he did not understand collaborative association, discussed below.
In 2017, debates remain centered around states rights versus federal power, limited by the constitution for the USA. For example, individual state responsibility for public education is under attack by the Obama Administration through Common Core. What better way to control future politics than to control the education of children? And gay marriage is Obama’s Trojan horse to debunk religion’s influence in American governance—at least Christian religion’s influence. Neither religious opinion nor sex opinion should be imposed on the country. Law should be based on the-indisputable-facts-of-reality, in other words, the-objective-truth, and should be legislated to protect comprehensive safety and security.
Common Core must not be extended to civics, where "civics" refers to citizens who collaborate for each others' lives more than for civil goals---in other words, someone's civilization. Take, for example, the Salem "witch" executions of 1692 (twenty innocent people executed); we were taught about the event under the ameliorating title, "Salem Witch Trials." I was retired--starting my seventh decade of life--before I realized the representative title of that civics lesson is "Salem 'witch' Executions." I was chastised just today for being too picky about word definitions. Good grief! When you are in elementary school, "Witch" can make it seem real, whereas “witch” connotes doubt. Same problem when someone cites their God to support their opinion--opinion which they hold since they don't know the-objective-truth about the competitive Gods.
Also, the Affordable Care Act, ACA, unconstitutionally mandated that states provide health insurance exchanges. Health care is better managed at the state level, where the people can more closely relate to tax support.
In the continual federal versus states struggle, “We the People of the United States” as defined in the preamble never recognized potential association and power for collaborative association: let others live under the rule of law based on the-objective-truth, so you can also live. For example, marriage is for spouses and unions are for partners and one person cannot kill another except in self-defense. The preamble's nine goals provide mediation for civic self-control. Real-no-harm personal associations, whether religious, political, professional, etc., can be mutually accommodated within the preamble's civic goals. However, religious doctrine cannot compete with statutory law.
During 226 years, celebration of independence has never advanced to celebration of justice, even though England is now one of our closest allies: liberty from England was long-since achieved and it is time to establish freedom-from oppression. Everyone celebrates the 4th of July, but most Americans don’t even realize that September 17 is a national holiday: Constitution Day. Perhaps it is best to just observe Constitution Day but celebrate June 21, instituting Ratification Day or Preamble Day to celebrate “A Civic People of the United States” as defined in the preamble. [On June 21, 2017, we changed the celebration to Personal Independence Day.]
Inhabitants: Re-consider the preamble. Focus on it; paraphrase it; practice it; promote it. The preamble is copied below:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice,
insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare,
and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
A paraphrase for 2017 living follows: a people who iteratively collaborate to fulfill these goals--continuity, integrity, justice, civic morality, defense, prosperity, liberty, and civility—cultivate the constitution for the United States of America. I would like to consider other paraphrases of the preamble, and moreover proposals for assuring the fulfillment of its goals, perhaps modified for 2017 living, for our children, the objects of the seventh original goal: "our Posterity" but intended beneficiaries of all nine goals. Please post your ideas using the comment box.
The preamble offers the association of associations--a transcending civic culture. All the inhabitants are citizens, but citizens who advance narrow associations such as harmful-religion, race, skin color, crime, and evil to the exclusion of fellow citizens disassociate from “A Civic People of the United States.” Legislative black caucuses exclude racial minorities, such as Native-Americans and Asian-Americans, as well as the white majority, and the largest religious factions, the non-religous. "Under God" erroneously excludes non-theists. Paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln's First Inaugural Address, in the people we trust.
Some citizens “of the people” find themselves subjects of the law. For example, a hotshot red-light runner who causes another person's death probably loses freedom, perhaps life. Moreover, citizens who seceded from the union in 1860 and attacked it in 1861 were held responsible for their breach of promises: their commitment in perpetuity stated in the 1774 Confederation of States; their contributions to the victory at Yorktown (1781); and their ratification of the US Constitution (1788). Most residents of Southern states did not take personally their association as “We the People of the United States” as defined in the preamble. They suffered the rule of law. If seceding citizens had considered themselves of “We the People of the United States” as defined in the preamble, they might have supervised their legislators, especially John C. Calhoun: “Not on my watch will you secede from the USA.” A Civic People of the United States persists to eliminate injustices and immoralities, such as slavery.
The ironic focus on skin color instead of character and inclusiveness in 2017, for example, by legislative black caucuses, must eventually yield to A Civic People of the United States as defined in the preamble, but that requires black persons to embrace the preamble. Failure to govern self, your state legislature, and federal legislatures leads to ruin, as the Southern citizens demonstrated with the Civil War. There’s no excuse in 2017, because mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosomes inform that everyone alive is kin.
Many citizens abuse American children’s futures. “Our posterity” in the preamble refers to security of children into perpetuity. Poet, songwriter, arranger, and golden voiced Leonard Cohen imagined the metaphysical “children who are asking to be born.” No metaphysical child is asking to be born into some form of abuse. For example, “There are an estimated 40 million adult survivors of child sexual abuse in the US alone.” If the majority of adults will focus on fulfilling the nine goals, especially the posterity goal, of “We the People of the United States” as defined in the preamble, children’s safety and security will improve.
Abuse of children comes in other forms, such as inherited national debt. Most children, the ones living now, who are born with $600,000 national debt (and adding another $13,000 each year), imposed on them by psychologically adolescent people of adult age, are not destined for happiness. I understand that President Obama "will not negotiate" the expansion of federal debt, and some of his administrators are still in key positions.
Adolescent adult behavior is the chief cause of child abuses. In common thought, age determines adulthood. However, too many people with adult bodies have adolescent minds. When I pondered Jefferson’s equality claim in the Declaration of Independence, searching for the-objective-truth, my only suggestion was that each human is born equally uniformed, and life consequences are a matter of fate, not individual accomplishment, a concept I could not accept. Qualified persons, such as psychologists, find additional obstacles to psychological maturity.
H. A. Overstreet, in The Mature Mind, 1949, explains that humans are born ignorant, irresponsible, inarticulate, sexually diffuse, and self-centered; to a world of contradictions; but with the opportunity to acquire psychological maturity. He urged adults--and society itself--to focus on psychological maturity more than chronological maturity/age. Readers are encouraged to expand Overstreet’s list of obstacles each child must surmount.**
Quoting Professor Orlando Patterson, “Psychologically the ultimate human condition is to be liberated from all internal and external constraints in one's desire to realize one's self." We owe it to ourselves to want psychological maturity—to discover our preferences respecting the-objective-truth. Perhaps we are considering public integrity. To overcome our subjective truths, we must understand that the-objective-truth is unyielding. Perhaps, in many cases, the-objective-truth may be recognized yet not understood. But what is the-objective-truth?
For example, many people perceive that something must be in control of evolution but have not discovered a controller; some people propose a God; others admit to themselves they do not know anything beyond randomness. Some just conclude, "There must be something." Many people have “their truths,” without realizing they are comforted by opinion yet vulnerable because they have not accepted the-objective-truth, which does not yield. For example, the red-light runner believes superior driving skills protect his safety. Then, suddenly, he encounters responsibility for injuring a stranger or self. Realities such as this constitute the necessity of civic morality. Respecting God, the-objective-truth is we do not know if there is a God or not.
I repeat, “we, the people” is insufficient. Respect for “we, the people,” whatever that means to the promoter is an unfortunate mistake with a documented past. For example, President Obama, in his Second Inaugural Address probably referred to the majority voters. As long as the country cycles between left and right, "We the People of the United States" as defined in the preamble cannot emerge. As long as citizens allow competitive regimes to gain majority power and control the vote, that larger association, “We the People of the United States” as defined in the preamble will continue to languish, as it has for 229 years; the idea, "We just want to be free to live in peace," will never be fulfilled.
Some constitutional delegates, such as George Mason, who perceived losing their bid for states to control the central government, withdrew from signing the Constitution. The signers of the US Constitution clarified, in the preamble, a republican form of government, choosing a special font for “We the People.” The signers, perhaps unintentionally masked both the entity “We the People of the United States” and the nine goals that define that entity. Even those nine goals are subject to amendment by subsequent generations such as ours. However, the amendment of the preamble could only come from the people.
Also, counter-intuitive is the fact that neither a nation nor a confederation of states nor “the people” justly govern: just governance comes from justly governed citizens. Thus, unjust people delay discovery of injustice and its elimination. For example, the just citizens of 1861-1865 withstood an awful Civil War to end the immoral practice of slavery, and just persons continue to strive to ensure collaborative association without discrimination on race. The people discover the-objective-truth and use it to advantage.
In collaborative association, citizens, young and old, accommodate each others' real-no-harm preferences as each person progresses in their individual, short lives. Thus, civic morality requires voluntary association to fulfill the nine goals of the preamble during every decade of each person’s life. Much as safely passing through green lights requires prompt stops at red lights, living according to private preferences requires allowing the other persons to live according to their private preferences, maintaining written laws to keep current and future generations informed about cumulative progress toward justice. For example, slavery will not be advocated in future generations, yet the example has yet to be broadly applied by African-Americans toward Asian-Americans or non-theist Americans, the religious majority. Despite its 1758 founding, "black church" may now debate "black liberation theology," which seems to posit that the Christian God is black. If so, Christianity in the USA is divided perhaps 65:5 between white God and black God--a worthy private debate, but one that should be public and include red God, yellow God and more. But for civic debate, religion should be held private, since no one wants to collaborate about his or her God. Human beings only want responsibility for one person's destiny: their own.
Please consider, “What would I need to do to perceive that I am of We the People of the United States as defined in the preamble?” Practice collaborative associations in arguments over opposing factions: people of low character versus people of noble character; rich versus poor; believer versus non-believer; victim versus villain; legal immigrant versus illegal resident versus applicant to immigrate versus citizen; homosexuals versus heterosexuals; children versus adolescents versus adults; etc. For example, after heated debate with gays, I sincerely suggested that Louisiana license both homosexual monogamy and heterosexual monogamy, leaving marriage to the churches or other traditions to decide: I listened then made a suggestion, then read Supreme Court opinion and wait for reform. Imagine what could happen if the majority of US citizens committed to and trusted in “We the People of the United States” as defined in the preamble.
Perhaps the children asking to be born, no matter where on earth, would benefit from the emergence of “We the People of the United States” as defined in the preamble. We should bring it into existence at last. We should stop being blinded by a “shining city on a hill” or American exceptionalism and emerge as a people who use the preamble---soon enough for our lives and the lives of our children as well as America's children.
*In July, 2015, in a debate started by Rich, Rebekah Beaver helped us see that civic morality comes not from cooperation or subjugation by one party but from collaboration.
**Josh Riley and I recently discussed equal vulnerability, and it seems child-care quality, usually by parents, is the larger determinant.