Part of our American History class along with Civics explains that there are three branches to our government. I would argue that there is a fourth: We the People.
The three branches of our government are the Executive Branch which is the primary domain of the president. The second is the Legislative Branch – the law makers who occupy both houses of Congress – the Senate and the House of Representatives. The third is the Judicial Branch – the highest court in the land – the Supreme Court, made up of the nine Supreme Court Justices. The intent of the Founding Fathers was to create three equal but separate branches of government so that there would be a balance of power. Each in its way keeps the other two in check.
Some will argue that there is another member in this triumvirate of power - the Press. Since the Constitution declares in the First Amendment that there is to be no “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” this branch of society was to become the watchdog of our government. It is often referred to as the Fourth Estate, a term coined by British Parliamentarian, Sir Edmund Burke, in a speech given before the House of Commons in 1792 in which he defended the idea of allowing the press to cover the proceedings of government. The press is to remain neutral; a position that seems to be far removed from reality today. Not so long ago the unwritten policy of the press held public officials in high regard. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was stricken with polio as an adult, requiring the use of canes, and later, a wheel chair. The media was careful to avoid taking pictures of FDR in his wheel chair or using his canes. A generation later the various sexual dalliances and peccadilloes of President Jack Kennedy were fair game around the water coolers in the press rooms of America, but stories were discreetly not published by the Main Stream Media (MSM) until long after his assassination in 1963. Today’s media is different. They either side with a certain political party in philosophy and ideology, thereby writing stories in a sycophantic manner portraying the party and its members as being as pure as the wind-driven snow, or mercilessly excoriating the opposition party at every turn, lambasting them as spawn of the devil. All sense of objective decorum in the press is sadly, gone. But the press is not the Fourth Branch of government I was referring to at the beginning of this article.
Unlike the press which has abdicated its role, “we the people” are now very much alive. We are the Fourth Branch of government. As such, we have the power to cast a vote.
I cannot remember a time in my nearly sixty-two years when I have seen the populace of America awaken to the needs of the hour. The two major political parties have grown increasingly detached from average Americans, proving time and again that they are tone deaf when it comes to what “we the people” believe is important.
In recent days a national grass-roots movement has emerged on the scene that is beginning to even penetrate the hard-shelled cocoon in Washington, DC. The “Tea Partiers,” or the “Tea-Baggers,” have been assembling all across the land, portraying a mish-mash of political thinking from every sector of society, but all simply wanting to have their elected representatives listen to them. And the message from these Tea-Baggers is loud and clear: if these egotistical, pampered, overpaid politicos refuse to pay attention to the demands of “we the people,” then they will be unceremoniously dumped this November.
Who are these Tea-Baggers? They are Democrats, Republicans, Green Peacers, Libertarians, and every other stripe of politically disgruntled, ticked-off, frustrated, disenfranchised, peeved, and generally angry citizenry that is tired of being misrepresented and ignored by the folks who run the country.
I often hear people say that “we the people” had fallen asleep, failing to pay attention to what was going on in the hallowed halls of our nation’s capital. I suppose that argument could be made. However, I believe that “we the people” elected our representatives in good faith, believing they would go to Washington to serve their constituency back home with dignity and sound reasoning. In the meantime, “we the people” went on about our lives, never imagining that the same government we thought had our best interests at heart was slowing eroding the foundation of our nation, while also chopping away at the trunk of the tree of Liberty.
No more. “We the people” are awake now. We are watching, and we are listening, and we are speaking out. “We the people” have the power to vote – and this November we’re going to rock your world!