We the people.
Those three words are the epicenter of this 234 year-old experiment we call the United States of America. Once upon a time, a group of exceedingly intelligent people came together in Philadelphia to determine that first, governments derive their authority from the people, and second, those people were smart enough to use that authority to determine, within reason, what a government could and couldn’t do – that they were the ones that had to be answered to in the end.
It was, and is, a good idea. However, we live in busy times now, and because of this fact, there’s a disconnect between the intent of “We the people,” and how those three words are used by those holding and seeking public office.
We see it all the time. Politicians and pundits constantly preface statements or ideas with, “The people want…” or “The people believe…”.
As a political reporter, I’ll admit that I either dismiss that preface as typical political posturing, or take it at face value. However, I’ve been remiss. I never bothered to ask the people what they think. My questions tend to be binary – asked along the lines of “Do you agree or disagree?” without considering that this reinforces a top-down view of government, rather than a far more interesting, and more telling, bottom-up approach.
So, let’s do something different.
Thursday evening, Sept. 23, I’m going to be at The Well (in McPherson) from 5 to 6 p.m. and I want to know what you, the people, want in this election. This is a chance to let us know the issues you want candidates and politicians to address. What’s important to you?
This is not intended to prop up or put down anyone running for office. For all intents and purposes, let’s just assume they aren’t there when we talk. This is your chance to contribute to a platform, a citizen’s agenda, that will be published prior to the election, and presented to state and federal candidates for comment. We want to see how your agenda stacks up with their agenda – how your issues coincide with their assumptions.
If you can’t make to the Well Thursday, I’ll be there again from 5 to 6 p.m. Sept. 30. You can also e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your issues. Please put “Citizen agenda” in the subject line.
I look forward to communicating your issues.