Constitution Day: Joint Statement

Constitution Day is celebrated every September 17th. The purpose is to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787.

And why is that a big deal? We list just three of many reasons. The U.S. Constitution and its amendments is the supreme law of the land, so far as what our federal and state governments can and cannot do. It provides for the checks and balances that make our representative democracy a federal republic. And it includes many prohibitions against government infringements on our core political and civil liberties.

Yet, if the Republic is to succeed, there are things we citizens must do. Among these are: voting for those proposing the best policies, respecting and upholding the laws passed by Congress as well as our state and local governments, paying taxes to fund services received, serving on juries when called, helping defend the country in some capacity if not in the armed forces, and helping build community by participating in civic organizations.

There is more. A few days ago, 13 presidential centers, representing six Republican presidents and seven Democratic presidents, issued a joint statement that reaffirms the importance of democratic values, civic responsibility, civility, and a pluralistic society. The statement is reproduced for you below. The bolding is ours.

A statement from 13 presidential centers

The unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as stated in the Declaration of Independence, are principles that bind us together as Americans. They have enabled the United States to strive toward a more perfect union, even when we have not always lived up to those ideals.

As a diverse nation of people with different backgrounds and beliefs, democracy holds us together. We are a country rooted in the rule of law, where the protection of the rights of all people is paramount. At the same time, we live among our fellow citizens, underscoring the importance of compassion, tolerance, pluralism, and respect for others.

We, the undersigned, represent a wide range of views across a breadth of issues. We recognize that these views can exist peaceably side by side when rooted in the principles of democracy. Debate and disagreement are central features in a healthy democracy. Civility and respect in political discourse, whether in an election year or otherwise, are essential.

Americans have a strong interest in supporting democratic movements and respect for human rights around the world because free societies elsewhere contribute to our own security and prosperity here at home. But that interest is undermined when others see our own house in disarray. The world will not wait for us to address our problems, so we must both continue to strive toward a more perfect union and help those abroad looking for U.S. leadership.

Each of us has a role to play and responsibilities to uphold. Our elected officials must lead by example and govern effectively in ways that deliver for the American people. This, in turn, will help to restore trust in public service. The rest of us must engage in civil dialogue; respect democratic institutions and rights; uphold safe, secure, and accessible elections; and contribute to local, state, or national improvement.

By signing this statement, we reaffirm our commitment to the principles of democracy undergirding this great nation, protecting our freedom, and respecting our fellow citizens. When united by these convictions, America is stronger as a country and an inspiration for others.

Obama FoundationGeorge W. Bush Presidential Center
Clinton FoundationGeorge and Barbara Bush Foundation
The Carter CenterThe Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute
LBJ FoundationGerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation
John F. Kennedy Library Foundation Richard Nixon Foundation
Roosevelt InstituteHoover Presidential Foundation
Truman Library Institute

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top