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Note: This is Doug’s original letter emailed to me. The title and editing may have been different when published in The Daily Item on the 17th or 18th of October.

October 11, 2013

I applaud Ben Marsh’s criticism of our regional congressmen for joining in the movement to crush the Affordable Care Act (Letters, Daily Item, Oct. 10), but would suggest that the underlying intent of that movement is far more cynical. It is to nullify the proper role of our government as articulated clearly in the Declaration of Independence.

That Declaration announces that, we as humans are equal and, as such, hold fundamental rights and that governments are created to advance these rights.

That simple, but profound, commitment came to play during the 20th century, when, directly following the defeat of fascist powers, we joined with nations across the world, to affirm and to develop this principle in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) as a standard “for all peoples and all nations.” That project was undertaken as a repudiation of the fascist ideology.

The Universal Declaration, which we ratified, articulates a range of human rights that, in effect, are the duty of governments to secure for their citizenry. They include rights to a fair trial and to participation in governance, as well as rights to work, to education and to sufficient income for one’s health and well being.

We seem nowadays to be struggling over the size of government, a quantitative question. But that detracts us from the far more central question, one that is qualitative: how well is our government advancing the basic rights of all our citizens?

Bluntly stated, we are failing badly on virtually all scores listed. Look hard at our skewed prison system, corporate influence in governance, poverty and unemployment, educational shortcomings, access to health care. We have fallen far short of our own Declaration of Independence.

The remedy is to reject destructive politics and to recommit to a constructive politics in which the principle of human rights is paramount.

Douglas Sturm

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