Del. Ken Plum: March for Your Cause

This is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Our Founding Fathers were brilliant individuals. Not only did they craft a new form of government with the United States Constitution, but they established a government of “we the people” leaving behind monarchies and special privileges. While it created “a more perfect union,” it included within its structure mechanisms upon which the union could be further perfected. While it did take a civil war to bring about the most needed reform that had been debated at the Constitutional Convention and not settled but compromised away, many other reforms and perfections have taken place through constitutional amendments, laws and judicial decisions.

With the massive changes that have taken place in our nation’s history, particularly in civil rights, it is amazing that there have been so few changes to our basic structure of government. Building on the ideals of Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence that all persons have unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the Constitution and its provisions created a way to realize these goals that ensures America’s greatness is not in its past but in its future.

Most often mentioned in the guarantees that propel our country into future greatness are the freedoms of speech, press and religion. Less discussed in the past but now seen as a critically important right to maintain our free government is the freedom to assemble. If freedoms are to be maintained in the future, it may be our right to assemble that will ensure it happens.

It is somewhat ironic that at a time when the internet enables advocacy blitzes to fill the electronic mail boxes of public officials to support a cause that the crowds of people filling the streets in various marches may be our greatest safeguard. Many feel it is not enough to simply send a letter or brochure or give or listen to a speech; we need to visibly show the depth and breadth of our cause by assembling supporters by the thousands in the heat, cold, rain or sunshine.

I participate in marches in our Nation’s Capital as well as our State Capital to show support for equality in our society and for an end to gun violence. I find the marches inspirational because of the worthiness of the cause and the wonderful people I meet who have such strong dedication and conviction that they will take part however inconvenient. If you have not taken part in a march, I encourage you to do so. After all, assembling together to support our rights is part of what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they included the right to assemble in our Bill of Rights. The other important day to be sure to exercise your right to assemble is on election day when you have an opportunity to express your right as a citizen. It amplifies your voice when you assemble with others to vote for the persons who most clearly are representing your views on issues.

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