Our View: Constitution a gift not to be taken for granted | TheUnion.com

Our View: Constitution a gift not to be taken for granted

The Union Editorial Board

We sure do love a parade in western Nevada County.

And it's with a sense of pride that Sunday's show down Broad Street is among just a few across the country that celebrates the Constitution of the United States.

But just what are we celebrating?

We the People revere our Founding Fathers for creating a national government with checks and balances in its three branches and for safeguarding its integrity through a separation of federal and state power, while protecting our individual rights as American citizens.

But We the People don't seem so grateful for the gift our Founders gave us.

We are so divided by political party ideology that even the basic fundamentals of doing the People's business, passing budgets and paying the bills, aren't a sure thing and sometimes are only addressed under the threat of shutting the whole thing down.

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The lack of civility and the level of discourse on display from the leaders of these powerful political parties should serve as Exhibit A in speaking to the dysfunctional state of our Union. Instead of crossing the aisle to win support for ideas, we shortsightedly change the rules so that our side wins the vote — whether the "nuclear option," the "Biden Rule" or actual gerrymandering — without even a thought given to garnering bipartisan support.

The United States Senate no longer seems the greatest deliberative body we learned about in elementary school. Instead, gamesmanship has replaced statesmanship, as good people are willing to accept the previously unacceptable if it serves as a means to the end desired by their party.

Last week, our nation bid farewell to an American hero with the death of Sen. John McCain, who led not only through his courageous military service or through the votes he cast in the House and Senate. McCain also set an example by serving a higher purpose than himself, or his party. The friendships he forged across party lines fostered an opportunity to debate, to negotiate and, yes, to compromise in order to form a more perfect Union.

Of course John McCain was just one example of politicians who could "cross the aisle" successfully — Lyndon Johnson, Bob Dole, Ted Kennedy among others. Our concern is McCain could be the last.

Today, our electeds are attacked by their own supporters for even associating with "the other side," let alone working together on legislation to make a difference in people's lives. We are not talking with each other and sharing our ideas. We are simply shouting slogans across a deep divide. Rather than risk being "primaried" out of office, they instead choose to stay in the good grace of the party base so as not to jeopardize the campaign donations they need to win re-election.

We need more high-level models like John McCain guiding our country. Instead of burying such a commitment to civility and service with the Senator, his example should inspire and encourage us all to serve a higher purpose than ourselves as we truly are all on the same team.

If our representatives refuse to put country over party, if they continue kicking the can down the road on key issues instead of working together for a higher purpose than themselves, we only have ourselves to blame.

After all, we're the ones who send them to Washington, to Sacramento, to Grass Valley and Nevada City. It's our vote that is capable of holding them accountable to that higher purpose. We must be engaged in our democratic republic and use the power granted to the people.

That's what we are celebrating with Constitution Day.

But once the parade has passed, the best way to honor our Founding Fathers is to participate, finding a way to serve that higher purpose, and make sure that We the People don't take their gift for granted.

Our View is the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.

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.