Jackie Gingrich Cushman

The finger pointing and the blame game of Washington gets old, but a messy representative democracy is better than an efficient dictatorship.

This past weekend, I toured Washington with my 5th-grade son, Robert, his classmates and their mothers. I've been to Washington more times than I can remember, but each visit fills me with hope and inspiration.

It's not just the city, which in the summer is hot, humid and buggy and in the winter can be bone-chilling (as it was this weekend), but it's what the city stands for: a city created to house the federal government of a new nation. A nation founded by a Declaration of Independence from the British king and based on the belief "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

The construct of government was initially laid out by the Articles of Confederation, which, in the end, proved to be too loose to be useful. The result was the Constitution of the United States, a document of the people, which started with the words, "We the People." It declared our intent 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."

Wisely, "We the people" did not declare that it would be a perfect union, just more perfect than what we had at the time. This is important to remember as we watch, hear and even squabble among ourselves about politics.

This incredibly important document laid out three very different branches of government -- legislative, executive and judicial. No one branch was to be higher than the other, but the three branches were laid out in such a way to provide the necessary tension among them to ensure that no single person or branch could rule over the country.

Having had a king, our founders did not want to risk that any individual person who would wield control over the nation.

During our trip, we visited the National Archives, which holds the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the White House, Capitol, Supreme Court and Pentagon. All of the buildings reminded us of our history and our heritage, as well as of their integral importance in our world today.


Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.