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Andrea Morisette Grazzini

CEO, WetheP, Inc.

TEDCRED 30+

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What does the American phrase "We The People" mean?

"We the People" are the first three words of the preamble identifying those responsible for upholding the foundations of the American Constitution.

Their intent, articulated by framers of the document, is laid out in the remainder of the preamble, thus: "in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."

Much debate centers around these frameworks and how they should be interpreted in changing American contexts. However this question doesn't seek to debate the Constitution. It seeks only to understand who these "We the People" the Founding Fathers implied are.

Some orienting questions:

1. Who decides who "We the People" are?

2. Are "We the People":
--Elected officials only?
--Are they only American citizens?
-- Do they include First Nation natives, immigrants and/or expats concerned about America?

3. What responsibilities do "We the People" have?

4. Are these responsibilities divided based on role, task or station in society?

At a time when emerging democracies in other countries are developing constitutions which echo that of the United States. (Which, adapted in 1787, in turn borrowed from earlier interpretations of democratic government models).
And while Americans struggle with deep political divides that have many feeling the country is on the brink of collapse, it is useful to take a closer look at who these "We the People" are.

Perhaps by considering this we can conceive more representative and constructive iterations of Who's job it is to define and deliver America's constitutional mandates.

By clarifying who these players charged with acting as "We the People" are, perhaps America can progress beyond it's polarizing partisan interpretations and catalyze more unified energies to achieve it's common ideals.

So, again: What does "We the People," mean?

Andrea

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    May 19 2011: You run into a problem here.

    If you are talking about the current interpretation you will get millions of different answers and this certainly won't help to bridge differences.

    If you are talking about the original intent you run into an answer that a lot of Americans (especially on the right) don't really want to hear: "The people" were white male land owners. Apart from a few founding fathers it was out of a question to provide liberty to natives, blacks, women or even poor white males.

    I am one of those guys who doesn't consider every word in the American Constitution to be a work of genius. They got a few things like separating church and state and the three branches of government. But I don't think it contains the solution to unite a divided country. This would require BOTH sides to stop spreading lies/untruth about the other side and try to understand them. (And please don't assume false equivalency on my part.) It is more about human nature.
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      May 19 2011: One aspect of the Constitution that they clearly got right was the process for amending it. This has allowed the charter to adapt beyond those founding prejudices. The 15th and 19th Amendments extended voting rights, effectively redefining "the people".

      The problem you cite about a divided country isn't caused by the Constitution, which says nothing about a two-party system. I wonder how the polarization would be affected by a strong third party.
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        May 21 2011: A parliamentarian system certainly would change it. But there is also another interesting option. (I can't remember the name of it.) The basic idea: You get an election sheet with five names. You pick your three favorites in order. If you first favorite doesn't win your vote would go to the second candidate, etc. This way in 2000 people could have voted for Nader first and for Gore second. In the short term this wouldn't change much in most elections. But in the long term it might change because people are suddenly would be willing to "throw away" their votes to candidates which are considered unelectable in the media. The number of first votes for third-party or independent candidates would explode.
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      May 21 2011: Joachim,

      As to your identifying as of "those guys who don't consider every word in the American Constitution to be a work of genius" I'll point out, neither did the Founders.

      This from George Washington:

      "The best supporters the Constitution has, do not contend that it is free from imperfections," he writes. "The power under the Constitution will always be the People."

      And this from an anti-federalist (likely Robert Yates) a respected and highly influential voice:

      "Most of the articles in (the Constitution)...are conceived in general and indefinite terms, which are either equivocal, ambiguous,or which require long definitions to unfold the extent of their meaning," he writes.

      "To discover the spirit of the Constitution, it is of first importance to attend to the principle ends and designs it has in view. These are expressed in the preamble."

      Andrea
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        May 21 2011: Sadly a lot of people on the right still have this fantasy that the founder couldn't have make any mistake and every step they did was in favour of what we view positive today (ending slavery, equal protection for women, etc.) Don't get me wrong: I don't think that all people on the right are nutjobs. But sadly enough these are the loudest voices in the media.

        Which brings us to the problem of market share of news networks. To get more market share you have to report some conflict. And if you don't find an actually new conflict and the old ones (like Iraq and Afghanistan) become uninteresting they have to create fake outrages. And that certainly isn't helping bridging the divide.

        -------------------

        Since I can't reply to Andreas next comment I have to add my reply here: You are correct. The consumers decide how much conflict the news network promote. And I really hope that you are correct with your assumption that people are fed up with so much conflict and this will slowly change the media.

        Of course this a little bit of a chicken/egg-problem. In order to reduce the conflict in the media people have to demand this change. In order to get people to reduce conflict the media has to promote less conflict. But perhaps this will slowly evolve in the right direction when a small change on of those two changes a bit and the others follow.
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          May 21 2011: Joachim,

          I see your point about media needing conflict for market share. But more granularly what media needs is consumers (viewers, readers and listeners) for market share. Consumers, in turn, seem to seek conflict. I use the term "seem" intentionally. Or at the least consumers don't sufficiently take action to voice their distaste for media proliferation of conflict.

          There is evidence that consumers are beginning to reject some of the shriller voices who provoke conflict. Namely Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh. This is a good sign that suggests emerging consciousness of consumers. Of course consumers of media are consumer of goods or ideals behind advertising and funding efforts that sustain media. So consumers have much more power than many know or, for that matter use.

          To bring this back to We the People. If We are consumers, how can we exercise our power in ways that influence more respectful, nuanced media? I'm not suggesting going to government for a fix. I'm suggesting a culture-driven fix.

          For example: In Minnesota many citizens became enraged when local retailer Target funded a politician for governor who was a polarizing figure who used conflict as a key campaign strategy. Among what many saw was offensive, was his stance against gays.

          The irony was unmistakable to many as this retailer, one of the state's largest employers, had long benefitted from a progressive corporate culture which attracted, among many other groups, GLBT staff. And, given it is a major force and projected it's non-biased image in advertising and community efforts, many rose up against their financial support of this non-representative candidate. Some are still boycotting Target, and the store has altered its media campaign. The conservative candidate it supported was not elected.

          This is the kind of civic progress that consumers of media can abet and which can send a strong message to other citizens, pundits and leaders.

          Andrea
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          May 21 2011: many importnattruths and isights here, andrea, all too and each too consequential to be buried here in 3 bar indent.
          I have had the same sense that the extremities we have witnessed have stirred at least afe wout their long winters hiberanationin laienantion and disenfranchisement.

          the question is.. is that just a momentary stirring or will that galvanzie action? a retaking of control by "we the people"
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    May 18 2011: "We the People" could perhaps be interpreted to mean the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787. However, if that were the intent, I believe they would have written something like "We the Delegates, appointed by the States to represent the People". That's not what was written. I believe the clear intent was inclusiveness.

    Or perhaps they intended to speak only for those who would be eligible to vote. In 1787 that would mean all free men; no women and no slaves. In that case, I believe it is reasonable for us to broaden our interpretation of the words. Anyone who has a right to vote has a measure of responsibility for maintaining the government.

    To quote Thomas Jefferson: "Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights." In other words, it is our responsibility, individually and collectively, to remain well-informed and to make our well-informed opinions heard.

    This brings me to your comment regarding polarizing politics. People who constrain their information sources to a single party or cause, who never question the potential bias of their news sources, or who believe entertainment is a source of information, are NOT well-informed. But I'm not sure how we can exclude them from "we the people".
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      May 21 2011: Tom,

      Your comments regards the relationship between polarizing views and relative sources of information reminds me of a concept I think of as "solutions saturation." In my mind this is a core challenge that deeply impacts, if not undermines, wide swaths of American perspectives.

      What I observe is something akin to analysis paralysis.

      We expect earnest leaders to seek, as you note, inclusive solutions with a plurality of diverse, objective and relevant information. Presuming this were possible for any one individual or even well-organized group to fully achieve, the problem becomes how to sort, filter and prioritize the information. And in the process to keep in mind the dynamic aspects of objectivity.

      Data and information is almost inherently, and ever more these days, fluid and mutable. What seemed absolute fact communicated by a trusted source yesterday might be disproven by another trusted source today. Indeed yesterdays trusted source might (knowing or unknowingly) even in honest attempts to weave in the latest known data, communicate erroneous or inaccurate information that belies their objectivity--or ours--today.

      This is where, in my mind, static interpretations of Constitutional intent and public distributions of it are at risk. And where the "We" part of "the People" becomes quite critical. The antidote to detached information defining public policy is citizens using all their capacities to persistently engage as earnest, objective participants in policy creation, evolution and/or distribution. This calls for less consumption of "produced" information and more active effort to seek and co-produce public "answers."

      This requires, as Jefferson notes: the "We" who are our government's "People" see ourselves not just as passive consumers overpowered by piles of politicized, circular data and arguments of what information is or isn't "true." And instead trust our abilities to act as "replenishing" agents of our national ideals.

      Andrea
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        May 23 2011: Andrea, thanks for posting this question and for fomenting even higher levels of conversation. I consider you a trusted source of insights. (At least for today.)

        One problem I see, beyond my disenchantment and frustration with the polarization of political discourse, is the relative inertia of most citizens. Many people seem content to consume the news and are completely trusting of the sometimes superficial analysis of complex issues. They're unwilling to challenge whatever bias may be present, if they're aware of it at all.

        I believe there are no rights without responsibility. So while I can agree with the noble sentiments that you've expressed here, that we have this responsibility and that we can be replenishing agents, I share in Lindsay's concern that not all of us are able or willing to rise to such a role.

        I have to admit that I'm not fully able to reconcile the idea that, for all the thought that people like us put into understanding the issues and evaluating alternatives, there are many inertial people. The "we" includes many people, and the votes count equally.
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          May 23 2011: Lindsay, Tom and Nichola --

          Your thoughts on inertia crystalize a key issue. I don't think we can compel citizens anymore than we can compel our elected officials to engage democracy. But I think we can inspire all to, by understanding and illuminating their self-interests to them in a way that is unmistakable.

          This requires understanding them as much as ourselves, perhaps more. And the only way we can do so, in my mind, is to engage in relationships wherein we "tell" less, and see, ask or coax their deeper values and interests more. Getting them to self-identify in ways that excite their best intents and ideals as citizens.

          What makes them feel patriotic? What makes them feel American? What draws them back to the reason they love(d) country? What gives them hope, not despair? This requires setting aside our own despair somewhat, and believing, as Jefferson did that most people want to be a constructive part of society.

          And, while voting is one way to construct democracy, it is far from enough to effect a living democracy. Which is at the core of this mass frustration and inertia.

          Replenishing agents are like yeast in that they swell. But unlike yeast, they propagate, too. In a democracy propagation of change agents can best be achieved by "growing" more to see themselves as leaders. This is where a sense of shared-responsibility comes naturally.

          A first step in growing leaders is to name them as such: no matter what they look like, what credentials they have or status they have. Then notice how they are. Do they bring friends to talks? That's leadership. Do they organize others to bring food to events? Leadership. Do they ask questions at forums? Leadership. Point it out, then show how their positive citizen leadership is needed and how it connects to others.

          For example, Nichola's passions were sparked by our discussion here. He engaged as a replenishing agent "leading" and connecting this to another We The People topic.

          Andrea
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          Jun 1 2011: I am stuck there too Tom and am about to launch a conversation entitled "Commodification of Narcissim..Do you have it? Is It Fatal, Is Anyone working on a Cure?"

          I and others think it is about a long growing, recently accelerated disenfranchisement..despair resukting from dienfranchisement manifest in a sort of protective closing in on ourselves..nurturing ourselves....a sort of cultural paralyisi..not feeling that loking outward will chnage anythingor make things better

          I see now that is what Andrea may have been ponting to as well in how she has framed this discussin and let it evolve.

          We can get a bit into taht here and maybe when we are finished here we then can all move over to getting right into the herat of it..no holds barred,.

          Thnak you Andrea for your unfailing wisdom
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      May 21 2011: Wow..jam packed and powerful exchange there between two speakers of great wisdom..thnak you Andrea & Tom and thank you Thomas Jefferson:"Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights." what can we do when we can't compel "we the people" to become and stay well informed? what can we do when "ee the people are asleep on watch?

      What do we do whenonly some of us want ti be "replenishing agents"? ( love that phrase..kind of like yeast in bread..only takes a little to cause a big swelll?)

      I have seen throughout these Ted Convesrations a sort of laziness about government and about democracy..we don't seem willing to line or will with our values..to act in accordance with what we say we believe..we want laws passed to match every value we hold we wnat someone else to do it for us..it's like we are on a big bus with no driver._
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    Jun 17 2011: Here is what

    PBS journalist Bill Moyers said earlier this week:

    "We the People is "the most powerful statement (...) in the history of political literature."

    Video of his reaction to the Q of what it means:

    http://www.theuptake.org/2011/06/14/bill-moyers-we-make-progress-through-collaboration-not-competition/

    Moyers defines the preamble as saying: "The only way to survive in a civilization is for people to collaborate. Politics is about trying to create and keep stable civilization. Civilization is but a thin veneer of civility stretched across the passions of the heart of humanity. And it can tear anytime."

    He suggests people look at chaotic countries like Rwanda and South Africa "which don't have a preamble that says We the People. Meaning? Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Liberals, Socialists and others." And, Moyers goes on:.

    "We the People means rich and poor. We the People are white, black, yellow, brown. We the People (are) male, female."
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    Jun 15 2011: Andrea , we the people invite you to our Caffe del Conte. Buona vita, bevande, e mangiatta. Musica sempre e amore.
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    Jun 3 2011: Carissimi amici TED....I'm very proud to announce you that my old and faihfull buttler Archibald is available to translate all my spaghetti western. No more complications. He just return from his vacations in his land, a very cold Edimburgh.
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    Jun 3 2011: Cara Signora Lindsay, credo que e utile parlare al stilo spaguetti western. Isaid that democracy was invented by us the people from mediterraneo. Democracy is a excuse to implanted the power by force. Historically is the truth. Who are that"WE"....who are the "PEOPLE"?....just after Jefferson said that, a lot of indianos were killed (from almost due million to 25,731 in 1860. Si vede che WE and PEOPLE are not indianos....almost the same than today.....this informazione you can see in your official archivio.

    Auguri a WE and PEOPLE....

    alora debo scendere per il mio Cinzano....grazie
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      Jun 3 2011: Translation of Conte's comments:

      Cara Mrs. Lindsay, and I think this helps to talk to spaguetti western style. That Was Isaid democracy invented by us the people from the Mediterranean. Democracy is a excuse to the implanted power by force. Historically is the truth. Who are That "WE ".... who are the" PEOPLE "?.... just after Jefferson Said That, a lot of indianos Were Killed (from Almost two million to 25.731 in 1860. You see that WE are and PEOPLE Almost The Same .... not indianos Than today ..... you can see this information in your official records.

      Greetings and WE PEOPLE ....

      alora weak to get off my .... thanks Cinzano
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      Jun 5 2011: Dear Conte

      I cannot disagree that throughout our history, we have often strayed very far from, and betrayed the eloquent affirmations of our constitution and our declaration of independence

      Your are right. to point to the native americans..What we did to the native american peoples whose land this was, we have been doing ever since globally engineering regime changes and using our military might and financial clout to allow the exploitation of the resources of other nations and concurrenly allowed t harm to other citizens of the world.

      .I am ashamed of what our government has done

      .I am frighteded and heartsick that so many of "we the people" seem asleep to what has happened..what is happening.

      "we the people" don't seem to understand that "we the people" are ultimately responsible for everything our government does. Morally and in fact we are jointly and serverally liable for every action our governmnet takes; we pay for it ( taxes), we re inforce it when we purchase goods that have no been produced ethically or sustainably.

      .Although I am not always certain, I hope our Prseident is trying to wake us up .I know I myself am just waking up to where we have come in the last 20 years and what it means for us now..what it means for future peoples of the world, for the future of our fragile planet.I am ashamed that I too have been asleep so long.

      But I still believe in the power of "we the people"...just by waking up we can right this ship of democracy we can get it back on course..and I think we can do it in a short time frame..we have tools for that we have never had before and we are learning how to use them wisey and effeectively.lbelieve our process still works..our consitution still works despite abuses.. I believe no nation has a better system. So when we do wake up..we have the tools to forge a better country..a better world. in partnership with, instead of control and domnination of , all other nations of the world, and global citizen to global citize
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        Jun 5 2011: Carissima Signora Lindsay, le sue parole sonno nata da la inteligenza tra il cuore. Your words born from your heart with intelligence. Really we are so glad to see that you recognize the glory an the hell...not all the americans could see trough just a this conceptual trio of words. Yes, as a country, you have the strenght, but the question is : Do you have the force and moral values to recognize the mistakes as an political pretentious hegemony? WE THE PEOPLE is like the magic mirror that said all you want to hear? The history teach that we italians know about the political expertise and military power to conquer the world. As a Roman empire we devastated all Europe and part of the Orient to built the ever longlasting empire known. A thousand years presence that change and transform the whole culture and civilizations. And in the Rinascimento we invent the theory to political practice with our beloved and missunderstood Maquiavelo. We feel deply your words, and be sure that you are in our consideration for your bright sincerity.
        Nostro complimenti Signora.
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          Jun 5 2011: Grazzie

          Each of us is a seed.

          Each seed produces much.

          Glad to have you here.
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          Jun 7 2011: Io vado a tentare di sintetizzare i tuoi pensieri.

          Come italiano americano il cui franco-canadese probabilmente contiene geni Dakota (nativi americani) il sangue, io sono sempre più consapevoli della complessità della mia eredità. Questi includono i tanti doni che appartengono a ciascuna di queste tribù elargire, a livelli in una volta profondamente infusa nelle mie esperienze, le mie caratteristiche e, in relazione ai punti di, le espressioni civili delle nazioni che informare il mio mix biologico.

          Sono stato riflettendo sull'immagine di bruciare Roma, e come si riferisce in America. Che si sta sgretolando sotto il peso di essersi avvalso dei corredi della ricchezza superficiale, con scarsa consapevolezza delle implicazioni. Che stanno ora emergendo come la facciata cade, non supportata da materiali di integrità sostenuta.

          Non vedo una particolare imperatore Nerone, il Legislatore, Executive o Papa suonare il suo violino nella beatitudine privato, mentre i cittadini ignoranti standby. Certamente ci sono alcuni di entrambi. Ma quello che faccio è vedere chiaramente i leader cercano di condurre cori o intrattenere i clienti per la loro causa - senza il rispetto che cantare dal innario stesso è ciò che è dei cittadini battendo le mani sulle orecchie a causa di disgusto, la disperazione o di tutte le dissonanze disorientante.

          Suggerisco questo richiede profondamente considerando il punto "compositori". Questo "noi" gli autori composta, forse i tentativi di attingere a voci diverse per ottenere la traduzione più profonda della Costituzione.

          Come dice Conte, per orientare attorno a valori condivisi chiaramente che appassionerà voci bene comune, non li esaurisce. E per ogni partecipante, come Lindsay dice, di capire il loro contributo come critico nella produzione di qualcosa di duraturo che possono essere orgogliosi.

          Questo impone a tutti di rendersi conto che senza coinvolgere i loro migliori passioni con l'altro, di perdere ancora di più le migliori opportunità p
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      Jun 7 2011: I'm going to attempt to synthesize your thoughts, Lindsay and Conte.

      As an Italian American whose French Canadian genes likely contain Dakota (Native American) blood, I am ever more aware of the complexities of my heritages. These include the many gifts belonging to each of these tribes bestow, at levels at once deeply infused in my experiences, my characteristics and, related to your points, the civic expressions of the nations that inform my biological mix.

      I've been reflecting on the image of Rome burning, and how it relates to America. Which is crumbling under the weight of having availed itself of the accoutrements of superficial wealth with scant consciousness of the implications. That are now emerging as the facade falls away, unsupported by materials of sustained integrity.

      I don't see one particular Emperor Nero, Legislator, Executive or Pope playing his violin in private bliss, while ignorant citizens standby. Certainly there are some of both. But what I do see clearly is leaders trying to conduct choirs or entertain patrons to their cause -- without respecting that singing from the same hymnal is what has citizens clapping hands over ears due to disgust, despair or all the disorienting dissonance.

      I suggest this calls for deeply considering the "composers" point. This "We" the framers composed, perhaps attempts to tap into diverse voices to get the deepest translation of the Constitution.

      As Conte says, to orient around clearly shared values that impassion common good voices, not depletes them. And for each participant, as Lindsay says, to understand their contribution as critical in producing something lasting they can be proud of.

      This requires all to realize that without engaging their best passions with each other, they will lose yet more of the best opportunities to "play."

      In other words, legislators and citizens should reflect on the dubiousness of soloing alone while their individual gifts and visions smolder.

      Andrea
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        Jun 7 2011: Carissima Andrea adesso noi vi ringraziamo la sua lucida parola. We are in the final conversation, here in Napoli are almost midnight, and in our dinner we talk about this TED dialogues. Its delightfull to hear intelligent voices and profound arguments, All legislations are an attempt to create sistems of power. We know that, and also we found all human creations failed some day. Empires, legislations, tyranies, democracies, kingdoms...all burn down some day. By the way, Rome was burned many times but not for Emperor Nero. But thats another story.

        Auguri
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        Jun 7 2011: I have a more immedaite action oriented approach in mind..for myself and am talking it up everywhere I can in every way I can.

        . My current operating premise is that our President , a constitutional scholar may well be the ally and want to be the leader to reach deep into those founding values..that our congress..both houses are a real obstacle..entrenched in what has always been the way business is conducted there..and that most americans are totally asleep and not engaged

        .My strategy is to be awake urge other sto be awake.
        To stay awake issue by issue..discover the truth for myself..through reserach, through conversations like this..to publish the truth where others can see it..here..at my own blog, in newsppaers and magazines..wherever I have acess and opportunity..and urge others to do the same

        hold my own local reps accountable to what truth I have found in as public a way as possible. as well as in direct letters. The sphere of influence each of us has through the interent s bigger than we can know or imagine. I have seen myself quoted in far flung corners and I am no one.. Put it where it can be found. It will be found. It will spread.
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    May 31 2011: I was surprised to learn that much of the USA constitution was copied from the principles of democracy practiced by the Iroquois. The reference on this is "League of the Iroquois" by Lewis Henry Morgan.
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      May 31 2011: Bob,

      Thank you for sharing this, I didn't know. But it doesn't surprise me in the least.

      Native Americans (First People, as they are sometimes known) have long practiced democracy in far richer and expressed ways than those of us who perceive ourselves as civilized cultures.

      It is notable that the concept of power in Native American culture is far less divisive and far more distributed within their sovereign nations and communities and between their people, than it is in the larger continent and culture that we share with them. (As well as that of most other countries, too).

      Andrea
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        Jun 4 2011: Carissima Andrea, la sua considerazione e valiosa per dibattire si la civilizazione non e lo steso che la cultura. Sono cose quasi oposte. Gli indiani americani da primo da Colombo eranno sulla forma di comunita e la prattica si chiama convivenzialita. E molto pericoloso da vedere lo antico traversa la ottica moderna e lo moderno traverso gli occhi antichi.

        Per capire il POTERE e meglio fidarsi da la storia imperiale romana e dal "Principe", opera di Niccolo Maquiavelo. "E molto piu sicuro essere temuto che essere amato" La storia politica e piena di sorprese.

        Gli StatiUniti non "share" the continent with natives communities, just erased them.
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      Jun 1 2011: Hi Bob..nice to see you here.

      Here is video that includes that reference to the founding fathers and the Iroquois

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hziy7WR9TQ

      And this site has a lovely history as well on exactly what the dleiberative proces was for the Iroquois confederacy and how it influenced the founding fathers

      http://www.support-native-american-art.com/iroquois-confederacy.htmlt

      appears to have been the model for states rights.

      cone of the founding fathers(Madison?) something like " If thirteen nations of people have found a way to live peacably ithone naother 13 colonies can"
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        Jun 3 2011: Thanks for the links, Lindsay. The book describing this is out of print and very expensive. It will be interesting to learn more about the lifestyle of people who formed much of the foundation for democracy in the US.
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          Jun 3 2011: bob check scribd..I find so many treasures there..almost like the library of alexandria
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      Jun 4 2011: Signore Bob, noi crediamo che gli americani non sonno originale di niente. Tutto e copia o plagio. Il nome diAmerica e italiano (il nostro grande capitano Amerigo Vespuccio). Questa schiochezza lunare e tedesca (Von Braun), la constituzione diviene dal pensiero franchesse degli Illumnatti e anche degli indiani iroquois....propia la hamburguer e troppo antica inventata per nostri popoli fundatore I romani....la democrazia e greca....Ma che hanno fatto realmente queste americani?....(magari la coca-cola?)....
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    May 28 2011: Niente Cara Andrea....quella cosa "we the people" non vuole dire niente....e una limitazione tipica , veramente nuova,. i politici che non dice nulla mai....e una verbalizazione inutile...senza idea da communita. Per noi napolitani, non ce niente da fare....200 anni da America, non e nulla sulla storia. (Voi siete italiana?) My english is very bad....ma posso scribere in the ligua mista. Anche in francese------divertente modo of expression.
    Auguri.
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      May 31 2011: Translation from Italian to English:

      "Dear Andrea nothing .... that thing "we the people " does not mean anything .... and a limitation typical, really new. politicians who do not ever say anything .... and ... no idea verbalizazione useless community. Neapolitans for us, do not do anything .... 200 years to America, and nothing on the story. (You are Italian?) My English is very bad .... but I can scribe in the Ligurian mixed. Even in French ------ enjoyable way of expression.
      Greetings."
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      May 31 2011: Conte,

      Sì, io sono italiano, dal patrimonio di mio padre e infatti sto anche francese attraverso il Canada, da eredità di mia madre. In realtà, ho solo recentemente adattato il nome da nubile di mia madre 'Morissette come parte della mia. Anche se non l'hanno cambiata su TED, ancora.

      Detto questo, tristemente e con tante scuse a voi e miei antenati, io non parlo né lingua colloquiale. Sto utilizzando Google Translate per mestiere la mia risposta a voi.

      Dato che io sono direttamente discendenti da immigrati negli Stati Uniti, la questione di chi Noi il Popolo si tiene qualche rilevanza personale per me oltre che della mia cittadinanza americana. La sua risposta - in particolare alla luce questo italiano / francese connessione mi lascia incuriosito il tuo punto di vista.

      Come sei venuto a percepire il vuoto nella frase Noi, il Popolo?.

      Grazie per il tempo dedicato a condividere le vostre opinioni,

      Andrea Morissette Grazzini
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      May 31 2011: Translation from Italian to English:

      Conte,

      Yes, I am Italian, by my father's heritage and in fact I'm also French via Canada, by my mother's heritage. In fact, I just recently adapted my mothers' maiden name Morisette as part of mine. Though I haven't changed it on TED, yet.

      That said, sadly and with apologies to you and my ancestors, I don't speak either language conversationally. I'm using Google translate to craft my reponse to you.

      Given that I'm directly descended from immigrants to the United States, this question of who We the People is holds some personal relevance for me beyond that of my American citizenship. An essay I wrote that relates to my Italian American roots: http://dynamicshift.org/archives/immigrants-economic-assets-2

      Your response -- particularly given this Italian/French connection leaves me curious about your perspective.

      How have you come to percieve the emptiness in the phrase We The People?.

      Thanks for taking the time to share your views,

      Andrea Morisette Grazzini
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        Jun 2 2011: Cara Andrea Morisette....vi ringrazio dal cor la sua risposta e la domanda. Noi mediterranei abbiamo inventato la democrazia...per nula. Questa è un idea utile per justificare il potere imperiale. Mai abbiamo credutto che la politica poteva essere piu che un instrumento de la dominazione...Quando ho visto la sua domanda, ho cercato sull archivio Vaticano e sulla vera propia fonte ufficialle americane per trovare in "Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial time to 1970 (Wahington, D.C., Governement Printing Ofice , p 14) che per 1860, pochi anni dopo Jefferson, erano rimasto soltatanto 25,731 indianos da quasi due millione prima da la invenzione da "We the people"....Who is that "WE"....who is the "PEOPLE"....certanly not the indians. So the phrase is empty...vuota, senza significatto. Noi parliamo il plurale maiestatico comme una tradizione di sangue e famiglia, lontana e valutata per la istoria. Gli americani non hanno storia adesso. Questa si scribe dopo mile d'anni.
        Per me e un piacere speciale parlare con voi en anche altri qui a TED, per compartire la mia perspettiva. Grazie e auguri.

        Conte Di Salaparuta Mordeforte
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          Jun 3 2011: can someone help us with a trasnlation? I think I see what Conte is saying but would like to be clearer..is there a way to odentify a ted translator who is italian and call on that person? Segnor Conte is prseent in mnay conversations and has a voice that adds much .hard to work with long phareses and intermixed english as herevia google trsnaltor or equivalent but I am sure a piece of cake for a translator.
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          Jun 3 2011: Lindsay if you ever need translation just bring up your google page and cut and paste the paragraph into the translate box. If it does not automatically recognize the language choose among the language options- I hope that is helpful.
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          Jun 3 2011: Translation of Conte's comments:

          Dear Andrea Morissette .... thank you from my heart his response and demand. We have invented the Mediterranean for democracy ... Nula. This is a good idea to justificare imperial power. We never credutto that the policy could be more than a instrumento de la domination ... When I saw your question, I searched on the Vatican archives and the true source propia ufficialle U.S. to find in "Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Time to 1970 (Wahington, DC, Governement Printing ofice, p 14) that for 1860, a few years after Jefferson had left soltatanto 25.731 indianos nearly two million from the first invention of "We the people ".... Who is That" WE ".... who's the "PEOPLE ".... certanly not the indians. I know the phrase is empty ... empty without significatto. We talk about the plural maiestatico comme a tradition of blood and family, far and evaluated for the story. The Americans have no history now. This is scribe after mile of years.
          For me and a special pleasure to speak with you here at other en TED compartir for my perspective. Thanks and best wishes.

          Conte Di Salaparuta Mordeforte
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          Jun 4 2011: Saluti a tutte, il mio carissimo amico il Conte di Salaparuta di Mordeforte mi ha parlato di questa esperienza novissima per noi. Siamo molto graditi di accompagnarvi. Aiuterò con qualche traduzione anche.

          Saluti e cortesie,
          Baronessa Ninna di Val-Taranto

          Tr. Hello yo everyone, my dearest friend il Conte di Salaparuta di Mordeforte have told me about this very new experience for us. We're very glad to join you. I'll help with some translations, too.
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    May 21 2011: Hi all,

    Great to see the energy your perspectives are providing to this question!

    As I pop in with a few reactions, I want to cite a resource. "The Origins of the American Constitution: A Documentary History" Edited by Michael Kammen. I've used the book to access quotes from Founders and early influencers of the Constitution.

    I'm eager to see more common ground (as Debra puts it) conversation as this meaningful, ongoing investigation (in Nichola's words) produces.

    Many thanks for your thoughtful, thought-filled responses.

    Andrea
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    May 20 2011: Just wanted to add yet another thread sequence possibiity or theme for this discussion also referenced by Nichola. Can there ne a "We the people" that is stand alone within soverign boundaries any ore or do the "we the people" who are americans also have to start thinking ofourselves, our national policies, our sensibilities and awreness as "we the poel of this earth"?
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    May 20 2011: Hi andrea,debora, salim. Nichola, richard Thoams, Joachim et al..glad to see you all here and looking forward tot he oment when our cionvenor chimes in on this. Just want to add a thread with a nod to immigartaion policy. "we th epeople" when our consiution was written didn't have any citizenship proces..whoever turned up was bytheir presence"we the poeple"..is that not so? ( I am no scholar on american history).The powerful words on the staue of liberty "bring me your tired etc." are a vestige of that and immigrants ..the tired, the opprsesed the hungry, the children with no hope back home sent alone pn boats..placed alone on trains heading west..are what has bult and fueled America.even as who is a citizen, who is a vistor, who is a "resident alien" who can carry a U>S> passport have become more formalized, until recently that spirit has been there. Now that door is closed..the unskilled and low paid essential jobs that immigrants have always filled..the jbs that built the railroad, the jobs that plant an dharvest food, we mustnow do ourselves as the door has closed. So the U.S. immigartion policy now, which favors "unique indivuals" ( the basis on which people like John Lenon and Yoko Ono could live here) or needed skills is very very different from the "we the People" that our founding fathers referred to ( and here Nicholas insight is ecellent..it was meant to grow). So I guess we the people now means whoever has or can obtain an american passport.
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      May 20 2011: Lindsay, you're right that the procedures for becoming a naturalized citizen were not explicitly defined in the Constitution. There are specific citizenship requirements for representatives, senators, and the presidency, but originally 'citizen' was simply a citizen of any of the states.

      Actually that reflects one of the great strengths of the Constitution. It didn't try to spell out every detail of every law; it merely established a legal and philosophical framework that could be changed as needed.
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        May 20 2011: Hi Tm..thanks for your comment an do observation. What do you think about that. With respect to what our consotution means now to us..should we the people only include people ith passports? or are we extending this umbrella to all who are with us ( subject to laws and refulations..juts as foreign banks function here in the us but under laws & regulations ) Is we th epeople only people with passports.. what rights dignities rotectuons are we obligated to protect for eveyone here under any conditions even tourists? can we have aconsitution worded tlije that that's "only for us?"
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          May 20 2011: I think the general protections of our legal system apply equally to visitors to this country. Thus tourists are safe from unreasonable search, foreign students would have free-speech rights, and people who enter the country illegally are entitled to due process.

          The key distinctions with citizenship are the right to vote, and eligibility to hold elected office. Plus there are no visas to expire and immigration laws don't apply.

          (This would be a good time to note that I'm not a lawyer so I speak from general knowledge, not expertise.)
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        May 20 2011: Hi Tom..I was really asking not for 'what is" but how youintuitively would want "we the people" applied to non citizens..non US passport holders. What your values are in this regard.
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          May 20 2011: Yeah, I guess my response ended up in a different context than I intended. How about this: I think the general protections of our legal system SHOULD apply equally to visitors to this country. As long as people are here legally and they comply with US law, they should have the same general rights.

          So visitors are included in "we the people", in the generic sense of a person; but they're not "of the United States", merely by virtue of being physically present.
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    May 18 2011: Even as a nonAmerican the phrase 'We the people' resonates with me. It is -first and foremost in my mind, individual people and not corporate entities. I beleive that one of the most serious flaws in a system that started as the highest level of human political thought (the ideals of America) to that point in history is the court decision to award 'personhood' to corporations. The most recent Supreme court decision to allow corporations to have influence during elections is absolutely 'wonky' to use the only civil word that comes to mind.
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      May 20 2011: The issue of corporations is interesting, and might be fodder for a whole separate discussion. I think it's clear that corporations and other non-person entities were not included in "we the people", and I believe it's clear enough that they are not now; but the government must recognize their role if for no other reason than to tax and regulate them. That they should have rights along with those responsibilities is not unreasonable. I think it's the extent of those rights, rather than their existence, that's worth debating.
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        May 20 2011: Tom do you know about citizens united? The supreme court has recently ruled corporations are we the people. Vermot is flotaing a 28th ammendment to correct this ver serious legal error on the part of the Supreme Court. A definitive piece of activism in service to the plutonomy.a little background with links to more if you are interested http://lindsaynewlandbowker.posterous.com/unwinding-the-plutonomy-web
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          May 21 2011: Lindsay, yes I'm aware of the court's decision and the controversy surrounding it. I was careful in my wording of that comment.

          I agree that a corporation or other non-person entity should not be considered a person; but I believe that there should be rights (and of course responsibilities). I don't know that there's a clear definition of those rights. I certainly do agree that large corporations have a disproportionate influence on political discourse; but I see potential danger in some of the approaches to controlling that influence.
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          May 21 2011: Lindsay and Tom,

          Citizen's United has, as you note, come under strong condemnation for being Constitutionally incongruent.

          I wonder how this opinion from Framer James Madison applies to the arguments against Citizen's United. In a 1787 letter to Thomas Jefferson, Madison asserts:

          "In the American Constitution The general authority will be derived entirely from the subordinate authorities."

          The question this sets up is: Are corporations subordinates or authorities?

          Madison suggests not.

          He speaks to the legislative "impossibility" to define corporations as subordinate: "The line of distinction between the power of regulating trade and that of drawing revenue from it, which was once considered the barrier of our liberties, was found in fair discussion, to be absolutely undefinable."

          Andrea
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        May 21 2011: Andrea @madison & subordinates..great find..great point..haven't seen that pulled together with the many other cites pointing to the "fraility" of the supreme court's decision inCitizens United.

        But until we fix it..its is the law of the land..corporations are we the people" same as natural born persons


        yikes!!!!
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      Jun 17 2011: Carissima Debra you are american as all the participants here. America is from Alaska to La Patagonia, Canada included, The presence of Europe in Canada territory is the same than in US, Mexico or other countries in America or LatinAmerica. The US doesn't have any right to use the America name as a trademark for themselves. Also the mexicans or colombians or brazilians or argentinians have the same right. We are napolitans not italians, but we are also europeans.
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    May 18 2011: The power of government comes from the people, Very simply put that means the we the people hold the only sovereign power to rule ourselves and not the government.

    We the People have established a set of laws by which the government must abide by and we the people have by these laws authorized the government certain powers as dictated by the Constitution. This set of absolute laws tells the government exactly what it can and what it cannot do. It says government you may go this far and no further. Whenever the government violates any of these absolute laws We the People have the right No the responsibility to totally ignore them. Under a decision by the United States Supreme Court in 1828 any laws passed by the Congress that is in direct violation to or which is contrary to the United States Constitution is not a law. This decision is also known as the Marshal decision and is the standing rule of constitutional law.
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      May 18 2011: First Nino, welcome to Ted Conversations..so great to have you here..we need a lawyer..did you see the Citizens United decision declaring that corporations are also "we the people"..I will fimd & bringhere te very interesting case law on which that Superme court decsision was based basically an intention clerical error in the heading by a clerk who had a vested interest in the characterization he chose to make of the decision. Now it appears, beacuse oof the tsructure of our governmnet that it may take a consitutional ammendment to undo it. Would love your thoughts on alternatives to a consitutional ammendment to correct a flawed supreme court decision celarring corporations are persons
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    May 18 2011: Just before & during vote I guess it means VOTERs thereafter it means Who We Are In Power until next election comes.