The Foxhole: 'We the People' have a voice in our lives

One of the most important rights given to American citizens, is the First Article, in the Bill of Rights. When this was written, it was a radical departure from even “free” societies of that era. This Article was a departure from widely held beliefs that the common citizen would abuse even simple rights such as freedom of speech or press. These rights could be turned against those in power and might ultimately result in that government’s downfall.

However, our founders, even those Federalists who thought the new government needed a central power base, realized that checks and balances are needed to rein in too much power. Allowing every citizen the right to freedom of speech, religion, assembly, the press and to petition the government, “We the People” had a voice in our lives.

Today, the rancor, the spread of disinformation, even the discourse of “fake news” would chill our Founding Fathers to the bone. They would be shocked at how elected officials of all parties, as well as everyday citizens who elect these same officials, use vitriol and false statements to benefit themselves and those they support. Enough already!

It is the responsibility of each of us to decide for ourselves what we expect from our elected officials and what policies should be enacted, then to use our power of the vote to continue this process. The men who wrote the Bill of Rights and the Constitution were not perfect and did not have all the answers. However, they did assume two ideas: one, that men understood freedom and the alternative, and two, that these men would vote their conscience and needs.

Today, social media has caused us the ability to spread rumors, disinformation and falsehoods, allowing others to make a judgment with nary an idea of the veracity of the facts. It also promotes acrimony between people and groups of people that will never meet face to face or allow them to understand each other’s thoughts.

The news we receive today is hard enough to decipher fact from opinion, so that when a very general term like “fake news” is used, some people start to distrust the media in general. Once we begin that slippery slope of disbelieving most news outlets, we lose the ability to learn fact from fiction. How many countries in the world today that do not have a free and open press, have free and open societies?

I implore you to educate yourself on the truth and reality of the world today, not just from social media or television, or even newspapers, but a combination of these, plus books, magazines and even radio. Consider each source and listen to those with opposing viewpoints. Try rational discussions instead of name calling or yelling. The bottom line is we should all seek the same thing: what’s best for America and ourselves.

On a final note, I wish to say thanks and bid a fond farewell to a very good friend, who has taught me more than she realizes and allowed me to share ideas, thoughts and information with you. Fare thee well, Jeannette!

Tom Moore is adjutant of American Legion Post 86. He can be reached at legionpost86@gmail.com.