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On September 17, 1787, the Founding Fathers signed the United States Constitution, one of the most influential documents in world history. Last week, we celebrated the 233rd anniversary of the Constitution’s signing. That day and every day, we must work to preserve and protect our structural documents from those that wish to attack the very foundation of our system of government.
The Framers of the Constitution created our federal government with the people in mind. They had dealt with the tyranny of the British monarchy, facing excessive taxation without representation. After fighting a bloody war for independence, the Founders worked hard to formulate a system that increased the roles of individuals in the government and allowed the common man to have their opinion represented at the federal level.
The Framers made sure that every individual would be represented in the federal government. Through the Connecticut Compromise (also called the Great Compromise), the Framers created a government that represents the entire nation equally. The compromise created two houses of Congress: the House of Representatives and the Senate. Representation in the House would be based on the population of the state in question, and each state would contribute two delegates to the Senate, regardless of their population. This smoothed tensions between larger and smaller states that both desired to give their residents the best representation possible.
It took a lot of discussion and debate to get voters the rights that we can express freely today. For instance, it was originally proposed that the President would be selected by a popular vote of the people. However, the delegates agreed on a system known as the Electoral College, which we still use today. This decision helped benefit states like ours by ensuring that power is distributed geographically instead of centered on one area of the country.
As Benjamin Franklin left the Pennsylvania State House after the final meeting of the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787, he was approached by a woman who asked him what sort of government the new country would have. Franklin replied, “A republic, madam. If you can keep it.”
In the document that the Framers created over 200 years ago, they achieved their goal of creating a Constitution that allows voters to choose who they want to represent them. Every vote counts, and with Election Day right around the corner, we can all take advice from Mister Franklin as we do our civil duty to keep our republic that our Founding Fathers worked so diligently to create.
As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates, or contact me directly at Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509-4604; telephone 402-471-2733; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.