A little lesson for those who’ve forgotten

Published 6:01 am Saturday, September 15, 2018

I’m baffled at times when President Trump takes particular actions. You know the actions to which I refer. I ask myself if perhaps he was absent from high school or college classes when the subject was the three branches of government as designated by the Constitution.

The framers of the Constitution were well aware of what happens when a ruler, a king, a despot is allowed to carte blanche make decisions and decrees without the requisite checks and balances. The founding fathers were educated and were well aware of countries where tyranny ruled, and they were determined that it not happen in the democracy they were designing.

Thus, they established the legislative branch to make laws (the Senate and the House of Representatives) , the executive branch to carry out laws (the President, the Vice President and the Cabinet) and the judicial branch to interpret laws (the Supreme Court justices and officers in Federal courts).

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The intent was that those in these three branches have particular roles and work not on behalf of themselves but on behalf of us, the people.

It’s 2018, and I want to make a list of “the people,” but before I do, I’d like to say that we are a diverse group and that will not change. In fact, we will continue to become more diverse. No one is going back to wherever he or she came , and no one is going to live his or her life according to another’s sense of what is appropriate in terms or religion or sexual preference or any one of a number of other matters.

Those working for us in D.C. and throughout the country need to accept the complexities that come with diversity and be willing to cooperate, collaborate, and compromise- the very lessons that kindergarten instructors instill as they teach our five-year-olds how to navigate their worlds.

Who are “the people” that make up this great nation? In case some of you have forgotten, this includes not only those in the 50 states but also the U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Marianas.

My list includes the following, and I invite you to add to it:

• The young and the old and all of those in between;

• The educated and the undereducated and uneducated;

• The rich and the poor and all of those in between;

• The religious, the non- religious and those who are grappling with the concept;

• The physically fit and the physically challenged;

• The mentally fit and the mentally challenged;

• The employed, underemployed, unemployed, and those looking for work;

• The conscientious objectors and military men and women as well as veterans;

• The free, the imprisoned, and those on probation;

• The citizens who are politically to the right, the left, and in between;

• The outspoken who have diverse points of view on a host of social issues;

• The heterosexuals and the LGBTQ;

• The natural-born citizens and the immigrants;

Those who identify as Native American, Anglo Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans and other races/ethnicities.

You ask, “How can we all be satisfied? We are so different.” We can’t, and we should accept that. We also should accept that the tasks for those in the three branches of government are huge, complicated and require intelligent, educated, thoughtful men and women to carry them out. We must further acknowledge that even in the best of circumstances, they will make mistakes.

Many of us, however, recognize mistakes immediately when actions are unacceptable or downright wrong, immoral, illegal, and we expect our leaders to control those who engage in such behaviors, to call them out. It’s their job to do so just as it’s our job in our places of employment.

We expect civility, respect, and truthful dialogue as we continue the work of achieving the goals found in the words of the documents that represent our legacy. I must believe that we can do this, that our better selves will triumph.

Go to https://www.usa.gov/branches-of-government for a refresher on the ways in which the branches of government are meant to function.

Dr. Vivian Blevins is a Harlan County native. She has taught undergraduate and graduate students as well as prison inmates, and now teaches communication and American literature classes at Edison State Community College in Ohio. Reach her at vbblevins@woh.rr.com.