The House the Founders Built

by Richard G. Johnstone Jr., Exec. Editor

Richard Johnstone

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men 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, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.Ē 

This wonderful, and wonderfully inspiring, passage from the Declaration of Independence outlines basic rights that were hard-won by our nationís founders, and have been protected over the centuries at enormous sacrifice and cost by our men and women in uniform.

The rights we all now enjoy first took flight when 56 leading citizens (including Thomas Jefferson and six other Virginians) from the original 13 colonies signed and sent a bold Declaration of Independence to the King of England, thereby risking their lives and everything else for the sake of securing liberty for themselves and their fellow colonists. The easy route for all of these signers, of course ó the simple route, the safe route ó would have been to do nothing.

That they chose instead to risk all and sign this audacious assertion of freedom makes their pen strokes true profiles in courage that many of us in the modern age may have difficulty comprehending, drenched as we are by 21st-century media, who shower us with stories that confuse celebrity with heroism, athletic skill with courage, and inconvenience with sacrifice. We are all beneficiaries of the breathtaking courage and amazing vision of our nationís founders, who built our republic of solid stuff and, like the soaring cathedrals of medieval Europe, constructed it to last through the ages.

A careful reading of the passage above from the Declaration of Independence clearly shows that governments are the instrument of the people, not the reverse, and are created as a way to secure our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Our nationís founders created a masterpiece of political functionality, a near-perfect governmental system thatís precisely balanced to correct the injustices of imperfect people, to ensure rule by the majority, and to protect the rights of those in the minority. Nothing before or since has come close to matching our republicís functional elegance. And with few exceptions, this system has provided us with some 220 yearsí worth of free elections and peaceful transfers of power, from George Washington forward.

Virginia, of course, has been blessed since the nationís founding with strong, visionary leaders representing many different political parties. Most recently, the torch of leadership has been passed from Democrat Tim Kaine to Republican Bob McDonnell. We thank Governor Kaine for his service to the Commonwealth, and we congratulate Governor McDonnell on his election, and wish him well as he ascends to a post that marks the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a Virginian by the Commonwealthís citizens.

In next monthís issue of Cooperative Living, you will find our annual Virginia State Legislative Guide. In it will be photos and contact information on the 140 members of the General Assembly, and the three statewide officeholders headed by Governor McDonnell, and also including Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, to both of whom we also extend congratulations on their election. The General Assembly begins its deliberations on Jan. 13, and we encourage you to keep informed on the issues being debated by our stateís leaders, and to use our guide to stay in touch with your legislators on the issues important to you and your family. Doing so is a wonderful way to pay homage to the sacrifices and the vision of this nationís founders.


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