Of, By, and For the People
The people must come first in every decision and policy. This is what it means in the Declaration of Independence when Jefferson wrote:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men [people] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men [people], deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
It is with these principles that the Preamble of the Constitution begins with "We the People..." and then spells out the duties that the government "of the people, by the people, for the people" are to be carried out. The legitimacy of that government is determined by how well it exercises "just powers" "to secure these rights" and achieves "a decent respect to the opinions of [hu]mankind."
Jefferson tells us, knowing that some people lust after power out of greed, selfishness, self-aggrandizement, or sheer insanity:
That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends [life, liberty, and happiness], it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.
It is with these words that Jefferson gave humankind not just the right but the duty "to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security." This is the great light of hope and the beacon of democracy shines forth people everywhere on the planet.
But like any lighthouse, it is darkest at its base. America is in crisis. It is a constitutional crisis. It is also an identity crisis about who we are and what we stand for. Which way this country goes depends on the candidates and the political parties understanding this crisis and speaking out for We the People who suffer at the hands of an illegimate and criminal government. They must show themselves to be "new guards for our future security," safety, and happiness. They can only do this by returning to the People First principle.
Every issue (the war in Iraq, medical care and costs, jobs, children, poverty, pollution, etc.) is derived from and is secondary to this principle. It cannot be, when the root is neglected, that what should spring from it will be well ordered.* In other words, we would not have these issues if those elected to public office actually put the People First.