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Hamilton and Shepard emphasize the importance of civic education

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Former Indiana congressional representative Lee Hamilton warned attorneys and advocates of civic education that unless citizens uphold their responsibilities and duties, democracy will not prevail.

“Our system is not self-perpetuating,” Hamilton said. “Self-government is a monumental achievement, one of the grandest achievements in the history of mankind, but it does not perpetuate itself automatically. You cannot put it on automatic pilot. There is no invisible hand that guides and preserves our institutions and our destiny. Because it has worked in the past does not mean it will work in the future and that you and I will always have – and that our children and grandchildren will always have – a free and an independent and a prosperous country.”

The southern Indiana Democrat was a keynote speaker at the Indiana Bar Foundation’s We The People state dinner Dec. 15 at Union Station in Indianapolis. Sharing the podium with Hamilton was retired Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard.

Held during the two-day We The People state finals, the dinner honored the attorneys, law firms and school teachers who have taught Indiana high school and middle school students about American history and democracy through the We The People program.

Indiana Bar Foundation president Judi Calhoun, Delaware County chief deputy prosecutor, served as master of ceremonies.

Hamilton and Shepard were recognized during the evening with the William Baker Award. This honor is given annually by the bar foundation to attorneys who exhibit an outstanding dedication to civic education. The crowd gave the pair a standing ovation.

Both men said they were surprised to receive the award and they are grateful for all the work the volunteers did through the We The People activities to help the next generation understand citizenship.

The IBF also honored the Pierre F. and Enid Goodrich Foundation and the Winchester Foundation for their continued financial support of the We The People program.

Shepard focused his remarks on civility and incivility in American life. He stressed the need to carefully listen to those who agree as well as disagree with us and to use respectful language when speaking. Civil dialogue, he said, will lead to a high probability of acceptance of whatever compromise results.

The retired Chief Justice also criticized gerrymandering, in particular, for driving citizens apart by rewarding people for moving to the edge instead of to the center.

Shepard said Americans today have not had the profound experiences, like the Great Depression, World War II and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, to bind them together. That is why, he said, the work of the bar foundation and civic education is even more important.

“It is one of the few genuine ways that we can help students and younger people understand the enormous value that this incredible venture that the American experiment has been has the capacity to build an even better society in the future,” he said.

Hamilton, too, underscored the value of civic education, noting each generation must learn citizenship skills anew. The succeeding generation must pass along its knowledge of the country’s history and heritage as well as teach the values of respect, empathy, tolerance and integrity.

“The privileges and opportunities as citizens we have in a representative democracy are wide and generous,” he said. “The demands upon us are imperative. We will not have liberty and justice for all, as we so often pledge, without responsible leadership and citizenship.”

Recalling his time in Congress, Hamilton said bringing people together, building a consensus behind a solution, is the toughest job in representative democracy. He echoed Shepard by noting the need to work through differences in a respectful manner rather than just hammering the opposing side.

Citizens, he said, have the responsibility to work together for the common good. Along with upholding the civic virtue of tending to their professions and their families, he reminded the dinner guests that using their civic skills to influence their communities and their nation is an essential element of representative democracy.

Representative democracy, he continued, requires citizen to act with mutual respect and tolerance as well as empathy and humility. He also called upon citizens to not just preach civic virtues, but to practice them.

“I don’t have a sure-fired formula for our success as a country,” Hamilton concluded. “I do have a sure-fired formula for our failure and that formula is to back away, to disengage from our responsibilities as American citizens. If you and I become … a nation of spectators, we will surely fail. Democracy, said (President Thomas) Jefferson, is never a final achievement, it’s a call to an untiring effort.”

 

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  • Such cynicism!
    I sure wish I could tell JS his cynical post is off target .... but the modern record is with him, so he is just cynically brilliant, as is his habit. And now comes Shepard and Hamilton, elitists both, the former on the payroll of George Soros, attempting to argue that a kommissar system is better than what passes for representative government. To borrow from JS, perhaps the 13 Fed Reserve bankers would like to just appoint all of our judges, and, what the heck, representatives as well. Dialectical Mammonism, anyone?
  • humbug
    Democracy, feh, whatever, that is now mostly a slogan used to justify war. Take ten thousand elections and if every one is a phony alternative between banker controlled party a and banker controlled party b, there's no real choice. Where is the democracy when you have incidents of historic profound social change imposed without legislation and instead by judicial fiat. Brown v board, roe v wade, and whatever the current excuse of a case the gay rights stuff is flying under. None of those things had much "democractic" support and it took a well funded "litigation strategy" combined with PR savvy to reprogram the tastes of the majority and accustom them to the new laws mostly imposed by black robed fiat. After about a decade of brainwashing on each topic the public was goofed into believing that was somehow "democracy." If the powerful & rich elite of this country want a change, they can make it happen, democracy be damned. Just like any other country. Laws be damned! Look at the illegal immigration laws this county has had for decades even as the millions have tramped across the borders. And the bar cops will now punish lawyers for daring to mention "unlawful residency status" of an adverse party in a suit. Amazing how this "democracy" works. Democracy is as much a false god as any other and America is just as corrupt as any other. Lets jettison all the jingoism and be realistic and more humble about our vaunted "democractic system." Spare us the phony speeches.
  • Duck Duck Cooked Goose
    PJB has authored a great article dealing with the subject discussed in these comments, to wit, a dissidents perspective on elitists defining what is "civil" to discuss. My own case, personally approved as just and mete by Indiana's highest court five years ago, further defines how subjectivist views of "civility" can easily become political repression. Here is PJB on that process: http://www.lewrockwell.com/2013/12/patrick-j-buchanan/duck-dynasty-and-the-new-blacklist/ Here are links to my Supreme Court briefs (one from ND Law School prof Charlie Rice) showing how civility overwrote Rule 12 standards for something called "insight" (actually a pyschological/feminist code word) to burn my legal career at the stake ... http://www.scribd.com/doc/109518279/Brownv-ind-S-ct-BoardLawExams .... http://www.scribd.com/doc/106665469/Briefinchief-brown-brown-11-1456-PDF .... the ashes of my previously bright career -- I served at the right hand of a state attorney general for four years and litigated for the Christian Right in courts the nation over -- should serve as a warning to all others who may one day be found "uncivil" for holding views like those PJB discusses in his article. Soft persecution is here, for the Left seeks to use all at its power to silence the Christian Right. In the case of Duck Dynasty there is no constitutional cause, since it is private discrimination based upon contract .... in my case it was constitutional, since it was governement licensure based upon ideals of political correctness.
  • Who gives a duck?
    Yes, JS, as many cases in the courts and before administrative tribunals demonstrate. The question relevant to this site is, if one decides that she does not give a duck, can she be an Indiana attorney? That is, are pledging the oath and following the actual rules of professional resp the test, or is pledging allegiance to A&E's view of what should and should not be said?
  • framing debate
    right on bryan! civility today is becoming a phony mask for political correctness
  • Just be civil and baaa when told
    I find it troubling when powerful elitists focus so much of their energies on advancing civility and incivility in American life. Too often this means "we have the power and will define the discussion topics." When the powerless then attempt to discuss that which the powerful do not want to hear -- yes, you guessed it, that is simply not "civil." Thus civility becomes code for shutting down dissident opinions and/or discussions that the rich and powerful do not want to entertain. Orwellian and Huxleyian all in one. (insert polite golf claps here}

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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