A New Land
What Kind of Government Should We Have?
National Issues Forums Institute
What Kind of Government Should We Have? It is the spring of 1787. We are now in a critical period. Our new republic is unstable and the liberty we won just four years ago is threatened. We’ve lost the unity inspired by our fight against Britain. Trade is difficult and our physical safety is uncertain. There are conflicts within and threats from without. The current state of affairs has sparked conversations in pubs and shops, town squares and farmyards. Everywhere, people are asking the same questions: What should we do? How will we survive? How can our hard-won liberty be sustained? The questions boil down to this: What kind of government should we have? This historic decisions issue guide presents three options for deliberation: Strengthen the Current Partnership Among Equals. The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union need to be amended. The current one-vote-per-state Confederation Congress assures that we are a union of equal members, but the current central government lacks the power to raise funds or make binding decisions. Create a Strong Central Government:To maintain our independence, we must ensure our stability. We need a strong central government to protect our liberty. Too much freedom at either the state or the personal level can be destructive. Let States Govern Themselves. Now that we have our liberty, we should dissolve the Confederation and let the states govern themselves as independent republics. Local governance works best.
Joni Doherty is a program officer at the Kettering Foundation. She directs research on the deliberative framing of historical issues, and she leads exchanges with libraries and humanities groups. Doherty has a longstanding interest in discourse ethics and the ways in which the arts and humanities can foster democratic practices. She is also involved with projects that investigate the ways in which deliberation and democracy intersect with teaching and learning in higher education.