We the People
Earlier this week, Erin Hartness from WRAL-TV called me. She wanted to come by my office to film a brief interview for a story she was putting together regarding the raises that the Durham County Commissioners recently gave to County Manager Mike Ruffin among others. One of the most important things that I said didn’t end up in her story. I wish it had because every American needs to completely comprehend this concept.
As citizens in this fine republic, it is our duty to hold our elected officials accountable. We should do this in a respectful fashion, but do it nonetheless.
According to Wikipedia, the definition of a republic is as follows:
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people.
The preamble to the US Constitution starts off with “We the People of the United States …” It is the people that make up this republic who are charged with the oversight of this republic.
On November 19, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln spoke in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The purpose of the speech was to commemorate the Gettysburg battlefield where so many men lost their lives. Take a minute and read this portion of the speech:
The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it [the battlefield], far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. [Emphasis added]
In my conversation with Erin, I made it very clear to her that we do not have a problem with County Manager Mike Ruffin. We believe that Mr. Ruffin has done a fine job in managing our county. The reason we have a problem with his 10% raise is simply due to the fact that a 10% raise in the current economic environment is a misuse of taxpayer money. It doesn’t matter that Mr. Ruffin hasn’t gotten a raise in the last three years. A lot of folks all across America have not gotten raises in the last three years. Just because Mr. Ruffin didn’t get a raise these last three years doesn’t mean that we owe it to him.
So as a result of this violation of taxpayer trust, we – as citizens of Durham – are charged with holding the County Commissioners accountable for their actions. This means we need to call them out on their actions in as many forms as possible – so long as it is done in a respectful fashion.
Naturally, this also means that we should consider voting for a new cast of County Commissioners. Thankfully, we will have that opportunity next year. While many will be focused on the Presidential and/or Gubernatorial races in 2012 – and rightfully so – we cannot allow the opportunity to elect new County Commissioners to pass us by; for it will be another four years before we’ll have the opportunity again.
In considering this opportunity afforded to us, there are two main things to consider. First, do we have qualified fiscally conservative candidates prepared to run for this office? That’s a question I’ve been working on for many months. However, the second question could arguably be more important than the first question. Are we ready – with the infrastructure necessary – to get these qualified fiscally conservative candidates elected? This is also a question the Durham Republican Party has been working on for many months. And while we have many wonderful people on the Durham Republican Party working diligently, we don’t yet have enough working on this endeavor. So, ultimately, the answer to the second question is up to you, dear reader. We need many more volunteers. Will you be one of them? Email me if you’ll consider helping us restore fiscally conservative and limited government to Durham. If we are successful in these efforts in 2012, we’ll also be successful in helping to restore fiscally responsible and limited government to North Carolina as well as our nation.