Two hundred thirty-one years ago on Sept. 17, 1787, our Founding Fathers signed the Constitution of the United States, establishing the country’s national government and fundamental laws, and guaranteeing constitutional freedoms – certain basic rights for citizens. Delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia were concerned enough about the liberties of the new American nation that they followed the signing with amendments, just to be sure that never again would authoritarian rule hold sway over a free people.
Chief among their concerns were the five liberties enshrined in the First Amendment, including freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to assemble, freedom of the press, and freedom to petition our government for grievances. This week media across the U.S. join together to remind us what these freedoms mean.
The entire world has witnessed our executive branch attack the media for telling the truth about what is happening in America, calling us “enemies of the people.” The fact is that at most main stream media across this country, the editorial area and news rooms operate as separate functions. The news room role is to witness — to hold government accountable to the people. And what we see is an advance upon our freedoms.
On Wednesday, not for the first time, this White House used the power of the presidency to attack freedom of speech, stripping the security clearance of former Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan and threatening many others. The intimidating message to dedicated government staff: don’t bother presenting objective reports or bringing up Russia, just tell the person occupying the presidency what he wants to hear.
Authoritarian forces love nothing better than to silence critics. Simply because a person has worked for our government does not mean they lose their freedom of speech. Brennan says he’ll continue to speak out. “My principals are worth far more than clearances. … All Americans need to take stock in their government right now. We have to be better than this.”
Yes, we do. At this moment as a generation and a people, we have a real decision to make. Either we stand up for our freedoms – not just selected freedoms favored by a lobbying group, but the fundamental freedoms at the core of our democracy – or within the space of a generation we could lose what makes us us.
“Us” is what this is about – “We, the people.” There are forces from outside this country and from within that would like nothing better than to tear us apart. We can’t let that happen. We have a voice. We have to decide how a free people should be led.
#freepress. Speaking Truth to Power.