“Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one.”
In the immortal words of Thomas Paine, government is one of the aspects of our culture which we must have, whether we wish to, or not. And to make the matter clearer, James Madison in Federalist No. 51 stated brilliantly, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” Well, this author, for one, is no angel, and everyone else he knows does not meet those heavenly standards either.
So, if we believe our Founding Fathers, government, even in this Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton era, this Republican vs. Democrat embattled democratic republic, is as necessary to our liberty and way of life as is the Constitution. That fact may not impress anyone, and may even depress a few.
But, as a social studies teacher at North Idaho STEM Charter Academy, I have a different perspective of government than merely “necessary.”
For the past six years, I have taught a civics class where my kids have been blessed with visits from several representatives of our great republic, local, state and federal servants of the people — servants for you and me.
Years ago, I started this approach of introducing my kids to the various offices and positions of our government, not through dull lecture or more reading, but the very people who serve, sharing face-to-face with my students. The results have been productive and educational, true, but also an introduction of real people, with real focus on helping our nation and working for our betterment and success in our lives.
This year my students have had the privilege of meeting Steve Widmyer as he shared his hard work as mayor in Coeur d’Alene.
Rathdrum council members, Paula Laws and Debbie Holmes, have visited my class for the past several years sharing their efforts for that community.
Kootenai County Commissioner Chris Fillios, Sheriff Wolfinger and the county coroner, Dr. Warren Keene, kindly visited my class, explaining and teaching my kids about local government and their individual responsibilities for the people.
On the state level, Sen. Bob Nonini showed my kids how personal he is, not a disconnected legislature in distant Boise.
The honorable Judge Clark Peterson has visited my kids the past few years, sharing with them the need for our justice system.
And Lee Ely from the Idaho Tax Commission expressed, so well, the need for running our institutions with public funds.
And on the federal level, my kids have interacted with the very knowledgable Ed Moreen of the EPA, as well as two engaging and entertaining agents from the Department of Homeland Security and the Drug Enforcement Agency (their names, I chose to delete for their own security).
Even one of my colleagues, Cynthia Cook, explained the complex world of lobbying in Washington, D.C.
There have been others not listed from years past who have introduced my kids to the reality of how our government works. But more importantly, they have taught my kids that our government is more than a vast, malevolent machine of untouchable individuals who rule and dictate our lives.
That this government “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” is just that — people. People, like you and me. People who, albeit flawed and sinful creatures, like us all, are working for us — the people.
In this controversial and pessimistic age, I wanted us to all pause and look again at these servants who could use our appreciation and respect — these “people” who serve us all.