Fair and Balanced, Richard D. Cheshire, Ph.D.

FAIR AND BALANCED

There is hunger in the country for middle-of-the-road politics and policies, according to news reports. That makes sense in light of the partisan wrangling that dominates much of national speech-making as the 2018 campaign picks up steam. Is there a center point from which the country might regain the nonpartisan resolution of political conflict on which the United States of America was founded?

Yes. Check the Constitution—primarily authored by James Madison of Virginia from his detailed notes of the Constitutional Convention’s closed-door proceedings, led by the soon-to-be first President George Washington of Virginia, distinguished by the presence of elder statesmen Ben Franklin of Pennsylvania, drafted by Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania, and vigorously promoted by Alexander Hamilton of New York in what came to be known as the Federalist Papers.

This revered document is the oldest written constitution in the history of the world. For America, it is the supreme law of the land. Its first sentence is called the Preamble. It states our national purpose. In doing so, it identifies our sacred values.

As the words were written by our founders, it says: “We the People of the United States, 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.” 

All of the headlined issues we are debating across the country should be considered in light of these founding words and framing ideals. How do they speak to Americans today, as we look back at them and look forward to the future amid the maelstroms of the present? What do they mean for we Americans as a people? Impossible to know? Too complicated? Simply not so.

If Amazon, for example, can create a widely-reported computer-based information bank of metrics that enables it to plot strategy for its cloud-centered business—not a new phenomenon for ambitious enterprises—then why can’t the United States of America create a Preamble-centered computer model that connects both existing and new sets of performance indicators of America’s progress, or lack thereof.

If the weather systems engulfing Planet Earth can produce the so-called butterfly effect, famously identified by Edward Lorenz, from which a tornado in Texas can emerge from the flapping wings of a butterfly in Tokyo, then why not bring the butterfly back to Washington (where Lorenz first announced it) and give it some national status? His point was, and is, that initial conditions lead to eventuating circumstances.

The moral of the story is that we must pay attention to those conditions. If we don’t like them, if they don’t meet our standards of performance, then we change them. When we decide to change them, we have mechanisms in place to make those changes. When those mechanisms don’t work, we fix them. Because we need to get the job done. This is what we all do as individuals. This is what we expect from business, government, and civic enterprise of every kind. Presumably, we all expect that of America.

But, can America produce on its promise? Isn’t productivity at the heart of the Preamble’s intention? How can we produce as a nation if we aren’t able to? How can we produce if we don’t use every possible resource we have at our disposal? So, what are our resources? According to law, they begin with the people themselves. Resources are what the people make of what they have.

When Charlie Rose asked Vladimir Putin what he thought of the United States, Mr. Putin spoke about our creativity. When Thomas Jefferson composed the Declaration of Independence he proclaimed creativity. When the United States rose in the world from thirteen independent states to fifty united states, it did so through creativity. Creativity produces, and productivity is our bellwether.

We are not creative, nor productive, when we are name-calling. Mindlessness did not elevate America to greatness. Whatever our definition of greatness may be, it is something that mindfulness makes meaningful. Americans urgently need to put hearts and minds together to determine what that means.