We rightly think of the Constitution in terms of its noblest aspirations, but it was also written to solve a problem: The new nation needed a centralized government to take advantage of its vast and bountiful resources. America needed government to do things that individuals and colonies could not accomplish on their own.
In designing a government that could deliver accordingly, the Founders were guided by two opposing fears: They knew that too much government would threaten the unalienable, natural rights they’d fought the Revolution to secure. But too little government would lead to tyranny and chaos. Both situations would make it impossible to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.
Further, the Founders needed to satisfy competing geographies and economic interests. This required multiple compromises. They reached the compromises and sold the Constitution by selling the notion of nationhood: As needed; individuals, states and regions would surrender rights and interests for the larger, public good.
From James Madison’s call for public education to federal aid for Union Civil War veterans, our government has long acted for the public good. This reflects our humanity, but its practical impact is equally compelling. When we use government to help all of us, America thrives.
We face dire challenges. Providing all Americans with comprehensive healthcare, affordable childcare, early childhood education, paid parental leave, and vocational or college education would let all live with dignity and security, and contribute to solving our biggest problems. A nation that uses government as a force for public good is a nation that gets stuff done.
Guest Blog by Shelley Cowan
Shelley Cowan is active in the Rural Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party and Indivisible Traverse City. She is a dedicated canvasser - passionate about encouraging voters to identify the issues they care about and pay attention in between elections.