On Friday, September 20, 2013, Councilmember White delivered opening remarks at the Council Meeting, reflecting on the Constitution of the United States of America in honor of Constitution Day.
Earlier this week on September 17, according to federal law, we celebrate Constitution Day – a day that we reflect and learn about the Constitution of the United States of America.
In keeping with this spirit, I feel compelled to discuss three articles of the Constitution that in my opinion is the bedrock of our national democracy. Article I vests all legislative powers to a Congress of the United States; Article II vests executive power in a President of the United States; and Article III vests judicial power of the United States in one Supreme Court.
Three separate but equal branches of government were created to establish checks and balances to help ensure that no one branch becomes too powerful.
This concept is important to remember, as one of our founding fathers John Adams stated, “only by balancing each against the other two, can freedom be preserved”.
Even until today, the balance of power is still critical in maintaining a government that is responsive and accountable to the people. One branch of government cannot unilaterally make decisions on its own, which ensures that actions in government are vetted and debated in hopes of making responsible decisions.
Public participation in our democracy is also critical, whether by testifying, learning about pending projects, protesting, or giving feedback to elected officials – whether good or bad.
Elected officials must remember that we are only representatives of our fellow citizens and any decision that is made, funds appropriated or spent is not for personal gain, but for the good of the entire public.
I cannot imagine a government without a proper system of checks and balances as I feel it is one of the main reasons we have strong and vibrant communities.
It is unfortunate however, that many in our society take for granted the opportunity to elect their representatives. Voter turnout in Hawaii has dwindled since statehood, but we must remember that many before us fought long and hard for the right to vote.
It took two amendments to our Constitution before voting rights was given to all citizens. The Fifteenth Amendment prohibits denying citizens the right to vote based on a citizens race, color or previous condition of servitude and the Nineteenth Amendment prohibits any citizen from being denied the right to vote on the basis of sex.
We have come very far as a society and I am glad that we are able to take a moment to reflect on our constitution and our freedoms that definitely were not free.
In closing, this past Monday, I was saddened to hear of the tragedy that took the lives of 12 innocent men and women working at Washington D.C.’s Navy Yard and injuring 8 others.
This unfortunate turn of events reminded me that we can never take our safety for granted and we must always cherish the time we have with our loved ones, as you never know when it might be your last.
In honor of the 12 victims of Tuesday’s tragedy, I would request that we take a moment of silence to remember the lives of those who were serving our nation as federal employees.
Thank you madam Chair.