We honor our Independence Day, July 4th, in many ways. However, everyone should know the historical significance of this special day.
This article provides interesting and important information.
Independence Day – July 4th – What’s It All About?
By [http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Ted_Robinson]Ted Robinson
What does Independence Day represent? Well, strictly speaking, it is a national holiday to commemorate America’s Declaration of its Independence from England as a colony. By making that declaration, we established ourselves as a separate, distinct and free country. July 4th is certainly not a holiday in England, that’s for sure. Did you know that more than 25% of middle school kids today have no idea about the meaning of this holiday and even fewer know about how our government works, what it’s based upon or what part they can play in the overall scope of our government? Recent studies show they don’t have a clue about any of that and that could well become a major problem in our country. Here’s why.
Our government is a representative type known as a Republic in which the electorate (voters) is given the right to elect people who they want to represent them in the Congress for various periods of time. The purpose of this arrangement was so that each citizen of the United States feels that they have a representative voice in government.
Members of the House of Representatives serve the shortest term (two years) because they are supposed to be the most responsive to the people as individuals, as well as for each state’s needs. Most importantly, they hold the “purse strings” of government, meaning they are in charge of initiating the budget for our government. It was purposely set up that way to make sure those representatives would be most responsive to the people’s needs, desires and misgivings about finances and everyday life in America.
Senators are elected to six year terms (which is the longest term) so they won’t be quite so influenced by the prospect of being voted out of office quickly if they take more controversial positions on issues such as foreign affairs and other more important and lofty issues than those primarily dealt with by the Representatives.
The President is elected every four years as the head of the Executive branch of government which is primarily intended to make the President the leader of our great nation. S/he is also the Commander in Chief of the armed forces and is intended to lead the country with consideration for the best interests of the public at all times. The President is also the Head of State in foreign affairs, and is in charge of many other different tasks and responsibilities within the executive branch of our government.
The three basic branches of government are the Executive, the Congressional and the Judiciary. All three are intended to remain separate so that each keeps the other in balance through a series of checks and balances on each other’s powers. That was purposely set up so that no single branch of government would be more powerful than the others so that no despot could take over the entire country single-handedly.
For example, Congress is charged with establishing laws which the President has the power to either accept of reject by exercising the veto power which defeats the Bill. If the President vetoes a Bill that the Congress (the representatives of the people) truly wants to enact, then they (both houses of Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives) have the right to override the veto by a two-thirds vote of both Houses. However, most times there is a lot of negotiating between the two houses of Congress and the President before a Bill (New Law) gets passed and then signed by the President. In effect, all three must agree on a single version of a new law before it can be signed into law – and even then it may still have to pass the review of the Judiciary (the Court).
At the end of this entire process lies the judiciary branch of government – ultimately the Justices of the Supreme Court – each of whom are appointed by the President, with the approval of the Senate, for life, (so their votes will not be affected by politics which often change with the passage of time). If a majority of the Supreme Court decides that a new law, or its interpretation about how it is being enforced, is in contravention of our Constitution, it can overturn part or all of any such law. If that happens and a new law is overturned by the Supreme Court, the Congress may then go “back to the drawing board” and draft a new bill and start all over again.
Many times, however, the Supreme Court’s decisions interpreting the Constitution effectively become the “Law of the Land” because the Congress does not countermand their decisions by passing a new Bill.
Ultimately, all rights provided within the Constitution are what America is governed by and the beginning words of it are “We, the People… ” which is a statement that the people of the United States of America are the basis of everything in our country. All power of our government grows from the people of our country and their wishes being met. However, we are also still a Republic, which means our wishes are filtered through our elected representatives so our passions do not take us in the wrong directions through referendums or the like when something inflames the people’s passions to the point that they may make errors of judgment.
This is why it is so important for everyone to understand how our government operates and how much it relies upon the people themselves playing their role in the overall scope of things. If we don’t make our feelings known to our Representatives, Senators and the President, they won’t know what direction they should go in until it’s too late.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of people do not really know or understand most of this procedure. All they know is they live in a country in which immigrants from all over the world still want to come so they can be free and prosper better than anywhere else in the world. Ironically, most of those immigrants want nothing more than to become citizens of America. They are happy to work hard to learn how to speak the language and understand how the system works and, most importantly, to vote. Unfortunately, that is often not the case for those who are natural citizens (meaning those born within the United States). Most of our young people (and many of our older people as well) have grown complacent and self-absorbed. Perhaps they simply don’t understand what benefits they have enjoyed by growing up in America because they’ve never known anything else. That’s understandable.
What is not quite as understandable is the fact that our school system has not sufficiently imbued every student in America with a firm understanding and appreciation of how vibrant and alive our system of government is and can be or each person must personally take part in it – or it could eventually vanish before our eyes.
By that, I mean, less than 50% of the voting aged population voted in the last Presidential election. (Iraq had a better voter turnout when their very lives were threatened by going to the voting booth.) That figure was down from over 61% in 1960.
In the Congressional elections in between Presidential elections, the voting percentage fell off precipitously to 37.1% during the last election. Why is this important? Because in those elections, the opposing political party often takes predominance and then laws and budgets proposed by the Executive branch of government cannot be passed.
We have been in that type of situation for the past two years and the issue of raising the debt ceiling has stopped the Congress completely. Congress has been dominated by the Republicans and the Democratic Executive branch cannot get any legislation through Congress, so the government is at a standstill. Nobody can pass anything without the approval of at least some of the other party’s members or having two-thirds of the votes to override the other party. This is what should lead to countervailing demands and hopefully ultimately compromise. This is why it is so important for voters to not only vote in every election, but also call, write and email their Representative and Senator as well as the President. Because so few people actually do that, when they get a letter, it represents the opinion of 10,000 people in their eyes. So if you want to affect change in your own country, do something, anything to let your Representatives and Senators know what you want.
I hope this has been helpful. It was intended to be a short course on our government and it helped me remember why I love this country so much. Because my voice and vote matter – and yours does too.
Call your Representative, Senator and write to the President with your thoughts and opinions. Remember, “We, the People” means you and me – all of us. It is not just a few words on a piece of old parchment. It means us – together – as One People speaking out and governing ourselves and it gave us each the means to know we are being heard by our government. But, remember, it is up to each of us to exercise our rights to be heard, which is freedom of speech at its most basic level. So vote. That is the essence of freedom.
In the meanwhile, enjoy the Independence Day BBQs and the sunshine and the freedoms we enjoy every day. The people who signed their names (and potentially their death warrants at that time) declared their freedom over 200 years ago. Their words still speak loudly and clearly through our Constitution today. Enjoy those freedoms as one of the descendants of the People who put their lives on the line for freedom so long ago and celebrate our Declaration of Independence today.
Theodore W. Robinson is a practicing attorney in New York for 37 years, who lectures and writes on important issues of today which affect each of our lives. He is a criminal defense trial attorney and general practitioner who utilizes the Constitution daily in his law practice and wants to share his intimate knowledge of the Constitution with others so they can appreciate it and how vibrantly alive it is to this day in the law. He also wants to share how important it is for everyone to vote during each election.
You can learn more about Mr. Robinson at http://www.thelawteam.com and [http://www.Tedrobinson.com]http://www.Tedrobinson.com.
Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?Independence-Day—July-4th—Whats-It-All-About?&id=6396170] Independence Day – July 4th – What’s It All About?