Of the People, By the People, For the People (Act)

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4 mins read

Have you ever stopped and thought about the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people“? When the person who ended enslavement (freedom is internal, liberty is external) said these words in the 19th century, I’m guessing he (Abraham Lincoln) had no clue that they would be so powerful that one day, in the 21st century, they would grace the front of a bill which would expand voting, make campaigns fairer, reduce cheating, prevent shady map drawing and elevate human connection.

The first time I thought about the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people” was a few years ago when then congressional candidate (and empathic warrior/author) Marianne Williamson said that our current situation was a government of some of the people, by a few of the people, for a couple of the people. That got me thinking of the original intention (even if it was said by a person who didn’t believe Americans of African ancestry like me were fully holistic, brilliant members of Team Humanity).

I thought “of the people” means all members of the American family (even children), offering ideas and thoughts around what our common, shared needs and values are, and what strategies and policies are most effective to meet those needs and honor those values at the least cost to ourselves, the world and our fellow Americans.

When I thought of “by the people,” I had the sense of the proactive nature of this democratic experiment we’re engaged in (and even though we’re a representative democracy, that doesn’t mean we’re not valuable members of the team who are just as important and just as needed as the quarterback or the coach). We are on the field/court/diamond/rink of democracy, so if we want a shift, let’s call a different play or throw a different pitch.

Are ya with me on Team Democracy?

Any chance you get goosebumps like I do when you think of this grand democratic experiment being a gift that is our birthright (“for the people”)? All of this potential, all of this possibility, all of this American democracy is for thee (YOU and ME). How awesome is that? Why are we treating it like we do? Why are we not waking up every day in complete euphoria that we have been given an opportunity to contribute to the well-being of ourselves, our planet and our fellow members of Team Humanity, through American democracy?

I need to wrap this up so I can call the Senate phone line (202-224-3121) and assertively and empathically encourage some influential folks and teammates to get on board the For the People Act. You with me? Ready to throw a curveball for the sake of your democracy? Then let’s do this. Let’s expand voting, let’s make campaigns fairer, let’s reduce cheating, let’s prevent shady map drawing and let’s elevate human connection. You and WE. Feel me?


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Tony Scruggs is a former professional athlete, turned actor, turned trauma-informed empathy-coach (specializing in nonviolence for communication). Tony's pronouns are he/him/his (and his descriptors are "American of African-ancestry/higher shade of brown/African-American"). You can find Tony empathizing with people @Compassioning (thanks for reading).

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