WE THE PEOPLE: We must learn to work together

America is the home of rugged individualism. The Bill of Rightsis our bulwark against excessive government intrusion. However, theFounding Fathers crafted a Constitution precisely to givegovernment more power over the lives of individual citizens.

They realized that our greatest hope for freedom was to have acollective individualism with a Bill of Rights guarantee againstgovernment excess. The Constitution is like the fulcrum on adelicate balance where individual rights are weighed against grouprights.

Society balances individual fulfillment against the collectivegood. The tension between the individual and the greater good hasaffected our political process so that it accomplishes too littlewhile it spends a lot.

No doubt there are many Americans who would be capable ofleading the nation if given the opportunity. Without a substantivechange to the manner in which we govern ourselves, any one of themwould do no better than the current leaders.

Our greatest strength is our representative democracy, but wemust find ways to assure our elected representatives have no excusefor inaction. Amendments to the Constitution might provide asolution to our inability to make government functionefficiently.

Amendments to the Constitution could address some of ourdivisive issues definitively. The rights of aliens, criminals andconvicts as well as principles of privacy, campaign finance andtaxation could be clearly delineated.


In January, a good Samaritan on Staten Island was gravelyinjured when he lifted to safety an intoxicated stranger who fellonto the train tracks. In September, another hero came to the aidof a woman being attacked near a Staten Island rail station. Policeofficers chase armed criminals into buildings withouthesitation.

These people and many others perform acts of courage andkindness every day for no other reason than it is the right thingto do. The only reason our representatives in Albany and Washingtoncannot do the same is because the process is too dysfunctional.Most of our representatives want to help their fellow citizens butthe process somehow prevents good things from happening.


Mayor Bloomberg’s dysfunctional Department of Education continues to experiment with the educationalprocess through constant reorganization of procedures andprocesses.

Administrators and educators must perform and face evaluation,although the rules and standards for evaluation change all thetime.

The mayor is unable to improve the situation but is able tothrow the blame on principals and teachers. Why isn’t the mayorresponsible? We need a real education mayor and voters shouldcarefully scrutinize all candidates hoping to replace the currentone.


Meanwhile, proposed Senate and Assembly lines will throw thisyear’s election process into turmoil. The Senate wants to add agerrymandered Republican district upstate in order to protect theRepublican majority in the Senate. How about a redistricting planthat reduces the number of state senators so that it is harderspread blame around for inaction?


President Obama appears ready to consider the objections ofCatholic and other religious organizations who want anaccommodation under federal health care regulation so thatobjectionable medical services can be delivered to members outsideof the religious organizations health plans. The rights ofindividual workers could be protected with a provision thatprotected the rights of religious organizations with legitimatemoral objections.


Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign got a reprieve fromcollapse with some primary victories, but this may be more aprotest against Romney than an endorsement of Santorum.

Brian Kieran is an attorney and community activist who worksas a Principal Law Clerk in the Supreme Court of the State of NewYork in Kings County and is a Democrat.

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