Tuesday, June 17, 2014 | 2 a.m.
On Nov. 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln spoke at Gettysburg, Pa. In that famous two-minute speech, he spoke of the Civil War representing a new birth of freedom that would bring equality to all citizens, and a government of the people, by the people and for the people that would not perish from the earth. His words echo principles established from the Declaration of Independence forward in our history, that government exists with the consent and authority of the governed (by the people), that it is the citizens who govern (of the people), and that it does so for the benefit of the people — for all of its people.
Sadly, these principles, though well-known and time-honored, have no direct power of law and seem often far afoot from the politics of the day. It is a perversion and corruption of “by the people” and “of the people” when the dollars of the wealthy, business and perhaps even foreigners are free speech that buys elections.
And it is not a government “for the people” — or at least not all the people — under which the wealthy are increasingly privileged, as reflected by rising income disparities, where basic health care services (especially mental health services) are often out of reach of the poor, where children still are not adequately fed in parts of America and where demagogues threaten to shut down government and its services over ideology.