Independence came for America on this day in 1776. But, even then the people knew its governing Articles of Confederation were not enough for the country created after the revolution. Something was missing. So, a chosen few gathered in a hallowed hall in Philadelphia to discuss, figure it out and compromise. The group consisted of no women, no people of color, and no farmers who merely worked the land they rented. No, all gathered were wealthy white landowners of the time. If this experiment was going to survive, there was much work to accomplish.
They began their new document with these words: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union.” They knew it was not perfect and today that remains true. America is and always will be a “work in progress.” And, like the participants of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, it will require the citizens to join the workforce in order to find a “more perfect” solution for this day and all the days to come.
Should another Convention be convened, I’d wager that the participants would look a bit different in 2019. In addition to those landowners, I’d expect to see women at the table. I’d expect to see people of all colors; black, brown and yellow, at the table. I’d expect to see business owners at the table. I’d expect to see single parents at the table. I’d expect to see people from the LGBTQI community at the table. And, I’d most certainly expect to see folks desperate for a new life looking to that bright city on a hill to be seated at the table.
There were Great Compromises made in that original convention; particularly the 3/5th of a person compromise. We will never know how such a discussion evolved as “we were not in the room when it happened.” Unfortunately, by their very nature compromises tend to hurt someone. Today, the very thought of a compromise is not even discussed as no one wants to tell the citizenry that some folks will win and some folks will lose. So, we sit stagnant, never moving forward.
I believe in a “more perfect union”. But, we have to put in the time and the energy. We have to gather together to discuss and yes, sometimes to argue. But, ultimately we must find our way to a compromise on issues such as immigration, taxes, foreign wars, states vs federal rights, executive vs congressional powers, etc. I do not have all of the answers. But, I am absolutely confident that this “more perfect union” is out of reach unless “we the people” take back our power. We must vote. We must protest. We must hold our elected officials responsible. Until we do those basic things, this “more perfect union” becomes more “imperfect” each day.
Happy Independence Day. Who knows how many more we may have…