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Letter to the editor: Addressing order and decorum

Posted: Wednesday, Feb 6th, 2013

A number of people believe the ordinance for order and decorum at public meetings, passed by the city council in January, is new in the scheme of governance, but it is not.

In the final weeks, as the Founding Fathers were discussing the definitive core of the Constitution that would establish the United States, they banned the public from meetings, for they knew crafting such a significant document would never be accomplished with opinion after opinion being offered. That set the prototype for elected legislative offices from township to the highest offices in the land.

Both houses of Congress have galleries where non-members may observe but not speak. Every state legislature unicameral or bicameral has similar galleries with the same rules. People expounding opinion from the galleries are asked to leave or more often escorted from the building. Some legislative bodies prohibit habitual offenders from entry or must be escorted. I have lived in several municipalities from California to New Jersey, and each has enforceable rules for order and decorum.

These rules have nothing to do with freedom of speech. They give elected officials in a republican form of government the ability to conduct business as efficiently as possible. This country is not a democracy.

What did the Founding Fathers say on republic and democracy forms of government?

John Adams- “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

James Madison - “Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

The Founding Fathers described democracy as “mobocracy.” In a democracy, if a majority decides murder is no longer a crime, murder is not a crime.

Republic: Where the general population elects representatives who then pass laws to govern the nation. A republic is rule by law. Benjamin Franklin was leaving Liberty Hall after four months of hard work, the Constitution completed and signed, when a woman asked him what kind of government was created. A very old, very tired and very wise Benjamin Franklin replied; “A Republic, ma’am, if you can keep it.”

Constitution – Article 4 Section 4 Paragraph 1 “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of Government.”

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