“Making America Great Again”
Everything starts somewhere. . . . . .
In a time of great trouble when this fledgling nation that was a disparate group of separate and diverse entities that were struggling with issues of how to achieve protection, create an environment that could foster prosperity, and provide for all its people, the Founding Fathers met in Philadelphia in 1789 and “invented” a new nation that has become the leader on this planet. That was done by creating a new Constitution for a new nation that has survived many threats and struggles over almost three centuries and whose basic document has become the standard for many nations throughout the planet.
The Constitution starts with the Preamble. The first sentence, the foundation, and the heart of the law of the land. “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union” states our national purpose as well as our national conscience. Legally and morally, it has been forgotten by the people, by the pundits and by the politicians. Yet it is the heart of our freedom and unity as the founders saw it. It deserves a comeback. Urgently. If we asked ourselves how the Preamble speaks to our most important issues, and if our debates were centered on those issues, we will have taken a big step toward keeping this promise America was made by the founders. Check it out. See what you think. We can change the world.
We the People of the United States are in the midst of a most divisive political campaign. We are a country that seems stalled in the progress and the leadership that our Founders envisioned at the beginnings of this great experiment. For over two hundred twenty-five years the United States has grown and prospered—enhancing freedom and creativity. How can we find a way to restart and invigorate that heritage?
There is a way forward to a solution:
We can remind ourselves of America’s mission in the world. The fifty-two words that head the U.S. Constitution set the Promise our Founders made with eloquence and foresight for this new Nation that has enabled this nation to grow and prosper. These words that constitute the Preamble state our national purpose ~ the PROMISE AMERICA made to itself and to the world.
Is there anything missing here from constituting the basis for the national discussion and focus to enable us to reunite around purpose, direction, and responsibility?
Doesn’t “We the People” provide the basis for our political authority and our sacred trust?
Isn’t “in Order to Form a More Perfect Union” a charge to all the people by all the people for all the people?
Isn’t “Establish Justice” fair and equal treatment of and by all the people under the law?
Isn’t “insure Domestic Tranquility” about the everyday lives of all the people?
Isn’t “Provide for the Common Defence” of all by all about protection from hostile attack?
Isn’t “Promote the General Welfare” about abundance for the able and assistance for those who are not?
Isn’t “and Secure the Blessings of Liberty” the gift of nature given to everyone?
Isn’t “to Ourselves and Our Posterity” for all generations to come?
Isn’t “Do Ordain and Establish This Constitution” set forth the supreme law of the land?
Isn’t “for the United States of America” for every person that lives within the reach of its law?
Don’t the President, the Congress and the Supreme Court all swear by taking their oath of office to support and defend the Constitution?
What then is missing? Where is our political leadership and what have they promised and not delivered? What are those who would aspire to leadership or who want to remain in their positions promising?
What are we waiting for?
The Preamble of the United States Constitution opens the door that leads out of the current leadership crisis standing in the way of recovering the momentum of prosperity in America. The Promise America Alliance, Inc., a newly founded 501c3 nonprofit corporation, is dedicated to returning the Preamble to the center of America’s conscience by creating a new accounting measure of how well American leadership is keeping the promises made by our founders at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and how well they are securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.
We have now designed and are ready to develop a nonpartisan “product”, what we are calling the Promise America Report, to transform each of the Preamble’s ten fundamentals into the basic issues of citizenship they imply and which we should be discussing in the ongoing national conversation that will be challenging this nation over the next four to eight years. While Promise America plans to guide the formulation and findings of the Promise America Report, a full appreciation of them by the American people requires influential partners to help formulate and guide the direction of their annual presentation. We see the partners as collaborators in all matters helping to further American leadership in the world.
We see the Preamble’s ten fundamentals as those headlined in the original script: “We the PEOPLE, in Order to form a more perfect UNION, establish JUSTICE, insure domestic TRANQUILITY, provide for the common DEFENCE, promote the general WELFARE, and secure the Blessings of LIBERTY to ourselves and our POSTERITY, do ordain and establish this CONSTITUTION for the United States of AMERICA.” These are our ideals, the conscience of our nation. Our leadership depends on saving the American promise reflected in the words of the Preamble.
We see these fundamentals as leading to what, in effect, are the issues that lie behind much of what America is or is not addressing: The “PEOPLE” leads to the questions of well-informed voting as our highest authority. The “UNION” leads to the questions of governing the nation according to its mission. “JUSTICE” leads to the questions of equal opportunity and protection under law. “TRANQUILITY” leads to peace in the homeland. “DEFENCE” leads to safety from foreign attack whether political, economic, or military in nature. “WELFARE” leads to choices about health, education, and well-being. “LIBERTY” leads to freedom for pursuit of civic virtue along with personal choices. “POSTERITY” leads to a long view of sustained innovation and productivity in technology, trade, and commerce. “CONSTITUTION” leads to a law abiding rule of order in public affairs. “AMERICA” in focus leads to prosperity as a result of keeping the Preamble’s promise through nation building at home and ultimately around the world.
From the viewpoint of governing, what is missing is a focus on and then adherence to the fundamental Constitutional principles which are found in the first sentence of the Constitution, the Preamble, which is the basis of the law of this Republic. Even though George Washington in the 18th century, Abraham Lincoln in the 19th century, and Franklin Roosevelt in the 20th century based their decisive nation-building leadership on the Preamble, in recent years it has become an historical anachronism overlooked by most politicians, scholars, and the public.
It is by the promises the Founders put forth in the Preamble that we may escape the political jungle for a new level of civilization in which we have rooted our moral and legal authority, our national purpose, our strategic responsibilities, and most of all, our vision of freedom and leadership in the world. These factors are the essence of our prosperity as a nation that is composed of many different people with a wide variety of goals, values, and desires.
THE MISSION OF AMERICA AS DEFINED BY THE PREAMBLE
The MISSION OF AMERICA is stated in the first and second clauses of the Preamble: “We the PEOPLE, in Order to form a more perfect UNION.” This idea leads first to the questions of well informed voting in an inclusively secure and equitable system for electing and appointing public officials at the highest levels of the federal government. This is our most important duty for a healthy and productive democracy. But the common assumption seems to be that we as a people cannot do anything about the serious issues impairing that ideal and all it leads to. We beg to disagree.
American pragmatism is concerned with what works for people in general, for unity, along with what works for individual people in that context. Pragmatism is the American philosophy that has captured the American idea for people around the world, perhaps our greatest contribution to the wisdom of getting things done in a free country for a free world. Pragmatism is not personal expedience, as is so often misconstrued, but human experience altogether that translates ideas into action with momentum.
Leadership in its highest form is transformational. That is, it converts followers, who are taking cues and learning from leaders who embody the greatest needs and desires they share, into leaders themselves. It is empowering, a force multiplier for improving their mutual situations. But it starts with a joint commitment to mission. This is where creative energy in its fullest form comes from. The most successful business, government, and civic leaders know that leadership requires followers who are persuaded to stand with their leaders.
When a high order of leadership is at work, great change in America’s troubled system of governing is possible. Since the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, governing in America has required the consent of the governed. The frustration, anger, and violence in all their forms that unfortunately characterize much of the electorate, is a sense of being left out of America’s leadership equation. That equation is embedded in the Preamble of the Constitution.
THE STRATEGY OF AMERICA AS DEFINED BY THE PREAMBLE
The STRATEGY OF AMERICA is to “establish JUSTICE, insure domestic TRANQUILITY, provide for the common DEFENCE, promote the general WELFARE.” These are the third, fourth, fifth and sixth clauses of the Preamble. They represent the operating principles by which the mission is undertaken to realize the leadership required to apply them in synch. They require civic virtue, as the founders understood it, that describe a just society with a responsible and well-informed citizenry.
A concerted strategy pursued in a virtual union of members by any organization is one in which extraneous tensions are relaxed, with a clear advantage over one that is not. The advantage comes from joining strategic thinking with both competitive enterprise and ethical values into a consensus course of action. Strategic thinking comprehensively anticipates obstacles, conflict and resistance, and devises plans to overcome them.
Alignment of different forces enlarges the power of their joint magnetism as it concentrates effort to protect and defend its own interests. As alignment grows the potential of quantum leap change increases. Such change approaches a tipping point where a critical mass of, say hot water, becomes a self sustaining chain reaction, as when the water begins boiling and continues to do so until the availability of resources reaches its limit, as when the water is gone.
When there is division among the parties in a group, the strength of the whole weakens. The antidote is finding a way to solidarity and success. That involves focus on common cause. This is where leadership becomes critical. The well being of the group has to return to the front and center of mutual attention. Members of the group are summoned, then, to unify their efforts. Once again, leadership is key.
THE LEADERSHIP OF AMERICA AS DEFINED BY THE PREAMBLE
The LEADERSHIP OF AMERICA, therefore, is an extra-ordinarily important question. At its core is moral standing, the regard it has earned in relationships with others. In the dangerous world of today, this is particularly difficult for a democratic nation where power is not unified in a chief executive. The Constitution intentionally divides power among the Congress, the President and the Supreme Court.
The power of persuasion is paramount for the President whose pragmatic inclinations must be morally grounded and perceived as such in mass opinion. Public opinion has a great deal to do, for better or worse, in the conduct of leadership. It has to be gauged carefully in order to foster unity among a presumably well educated people who “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” This works reasonably well when people feel they are being treated fairly by “the system” but not when they feel it is rigged against them.
Whatever the status of America’s reputation at a given moment, the moral compass of the Preamble is its basis. This is the foundation of our relations at home and with any other nation. How closely are the President’s actions consistent with the promise America was made by the founders in that first sentence of the Constitution, the oldest written Constitution in the world? Whether or not citizens know the words of the Preamble, their reactions generally reflect the common humanity they share with that of the founders.
As we “do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”, there can be a unifying effect on all the fundamentals. If pursued in concert, they would have the effect of redoubling the totality of our national effort as an example for other nations to follow. This would be, potentially, the most effective and economical pathway into the future.
It is the intention of POA to integrate the components it has identified of the Preamble to the US Constitution into the overall well-being concept and measurement as is being done for the AHDI by Measure of America. What are these other components?
According to the words of the Preamble, its ten leading performance standards are–People, Union, Justice, Tranquility, Defence, Welfare, Liberty, Posterity, Constitution, and America. Aspects of these standards will be factored into the format of the AHDI as that report is developed. They will be assessed within the three composites of leadership, living standards, and level of learning. And these will be harmonized to produce a singular accounting indicator for how well America’s leadership is keeping the promise of the Founders –which is the heart of the rule of law in a free country bringing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. In doing so, we will be the recipients of the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness promised in our Declaration of Independence. .
INITIAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE PROMISE AMERICA REPORT MEASUREMENT TOOL: (THE “PAR”)
The PAR will present a new annual accounting of the national condition to assess how well American leadership is keeping the promise America was made by our founders. That promise is set forth in the first sentence of the U.S. Constitution, commonly known as the Preamble. It underlies the oath which public officials take as they assume their office. The PAR performance standards will be assessed in an annual report based on the ten pillars of the Preamble’s foundation of law. An average of these criteria will be created to serve as the overall accounting number that best describes how well America’s leadership is keeping the promise of the Founders.
What follows is a concept for a three-fold organization of the Preamble’s ten foundational clauses that corresponds with the Social Science Research Council’s annual Measure of America report that is organized according to the United Nation’s Human Development Index
THE HEALTH OF NATIONAL GOVERNANCE: How well are the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the national government working today to lead America into its future? Consider: (a) performance in each of their mandated functions; and (b) their collaboration with the other branches to reconcile any differences?
1. “We the People of the United States” is the basis of our nation’s authority to govern. Components are: (a) Equal access to registration and voting; (b) Fairly apportioned voting districts shaped with one person one vote as the standard. (c) Well informed voters expected to be so as their duty to the country. This would help assure honest government.
2. “in Order to Form a More Perfect Union” is America’s mission. This involves: Elected office holders and their appointees who are sworn to support the Constitution in the conduct of their duties. This would enhance the possibilities of equal justice.
THE EARNINGS OF INDIVIDUAL PEOPLE: The general condition of the country is framed by the strategic responsibilities of citizens for justice, tranquility, defense, and welfare that affect what is happening to the earnings of individuals and their families.
3. “Establish Justice.” The United States Supreme Court’s motto of “Equal justice under law” would be applied to the protection and opportunity for everyone in all spheres of life and the law. This would facilitate the likelihood of homeland peace.
4. “insure Domestic Tranquility.” This would apply equitably in all jurisdictions across the country. No populations would be exploited or neglected by officials or citizens for any reason. This would lead to greater solidarity in a diverse population. It would more readily lead to more effective preparations for the common defense.
5. “Provide for the Common Defence” Everyone in the country would be expected in some way to actively participate in helping defend the nation from foreign attackers. The common defense would require the greatest resourcefulness in the military that is consistent with the other responsibilities of the people. This would enable the most extensive prosperity throughout the nation.
6. “Promote the General Welfare,” Every able-bodied citizen would have the opportunity for abundance and those who are not would be assisted by those who are. It is to the nation’s greatest advantage that every citizen contribute in some positive way to the prosperity of the whole. This would lead to a freer people more able to help those in need.
THE EDUCATION OF CITIZENS: Whatever the qualities of learning that are held by Americans will greatly influence the creative thinking they have to take advantage of available opportunities. Creativity has been a driving force for America and the world. America leads the world at the level of higher education, but not at the pre-college levels.
7. “Secure the Blessings of Liberty.” This would be manifest by the range of life choices among people who are not bound with unfair restrictions imposed by illegitimate authority favoring a few at the expense of the many. This would help lead to optimal working productivity by highly motivated workers.
8. “to Ourselves and Our Posterity.” Investment of private and public funds not needed to maintain living standards enables such excess funds to be used for greater returns on capital that might lead to a better future. This would lead to a more productive presumption of the law as it stands.
9. “Do Ordain and Establish This Constitution.” Starting from the federal seat of government, which sets an example for all to respect and obey, the law represents the best interests of the whole country with the sustainable strength of a responsible people. This equal application of the rule of law gives focus to the pursuit of happiness and sustainable creativity.
10. “for the United States of America.” All “are created equal ….. endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.” This spirit of creativity is at the heart of what has made America the “leader of the free world”, if our leadership can keep it so.