The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Bruce DeBoskey

Wall Street is soar­ing as it sees a brighter fu­ture un­der the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Re­sults of the re­cent elec­tion sea­son have spot­lighted the tremen­dous di­vi­sive­ness in our na­tion — di­vi­sive­ness that col­ors our ap­proach to our coun­try, our govern­ment and each other.

As this year comes to a close, I want to re­mind read­ers — of ev­ery po­lit­i­cal point of view — about the crit­i­cal role that phi­lan­thropy can play in ad­vo­cat­ing not only for our com­mu­ni­ties but also for the fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples that have en­abled the suc­cess of our unique democ­racy for nearly 230 years.

Prin­ci­ples of democ­racy

The prin­ci­ples enun­ci­ated in the Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence and en­shrined in the Con­sti­tu­tion and Bill of Rights have made our ex­per­i­ment in gov­er­nance and civil so­ci­ety the most suc­cess­ful in his­tory.

Th­ese in­clude the bedrock con­cept 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.”

The Con­sti­tu­tion cre­ated the govern­ment and es­tab­lished the rule of law, sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers, rep­re­sen­ta­tive democ­racy, checks and bal­ances, fed­er­al­ism and civil­ian mil­i­tary con­trol.

The Bill of Rights set lim­its on the govern­ment’s power and grants cit­i­zens pro­tec­tion from abuse of that power. It was Thomas Jef­fer­son who said, “Ex­pe­ri­ence hath shewn, that even un­der the best forms of govern­ment those en­trusted with power have, in time, and by slow op­er­a­tions, per­verted it into tyranny.”

It makes no dif­fer­ence if you are lib­eral or con­ser­va­tive – or some­where in be­tween. It makes no dif­fer­ence how you feel about the re­sults of the re­cent elec­tions. The value of the Amer­i­can con­cept of self-govern­ment lies in transpar­ti­san demo­cratic prin­ci­ples that pro­tect us all. Th­ese must be protected, pre­served and en­hanced by in­di­vid­u­als of all par­ties and di­verse so­cial per­spec­tives.

To read some of th­ese writ­ings of our Found­ing Fa­thers that ex­plore the mean­ing of th­ese prin­ci­ples, see Founders On­line, an on­line re­source (sup­ported by a num­ber of foun­da­tions) to make our na­tion’s historical doc­u­ments avail­able to all.

Pro­tect­ing cit­i­zens’ rights

His­tor­i­cally, non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions have played an im­por­tant role in help­ing to shape the mean­ing and ap­pli­ca­tion of cit­i­zens’ rights. Through ad­vo­cacy, ed­u­ca­tion, and lit­i­ga­tion, non­prof­its have helped to de­fine and de­fend our demo­cratic val­ues when they have come un­der at­tack.

There are many op­por­tu­ni­ties to sup­port — fi­nan­cially and with one’s time — or­ga­ni­za­tions that ad­vo­cate for the es­sen­tial pre­cepts em­bod­ied in our found­ing doc­u­ments. Among th­ese are lo­cal, re­gional and na­tional non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions that work tire­lessly to pro­mote and in­sure: The abil­ity to fol­low the faith of one’s choice, in­clud­ing no faith at all; The re­stric­tion on govern­ment pro­mo­tion of any par­tic­u­lar faith; The sep­a­ra­tion of church and state; equal treat­ment un­der the law; A free press; free­dom of speech; The right to as­sem­ble and peace­fully protest; The right to pri­vacy; The right to vote; The right to bear arms; pro­tec­tion against cruel and un­usual pun­ish­ment; the right to due process and the as­sis­tance of coun­sel; and more.

Th­ese rights rec­og­nize and cod­ify both our in­de­pen­dence and fun­da­men­tal in­ter­de­pen­dence as a civil so­ci­ety. Jef­fer­son also said, “It be­hooves our cit­i­zens to be on their guard, to be firm in their prin­ci­ples, and full of con­fi­dence in them­selves.” More­over, he cau­tioned that “lethargy is the fore­run­ner of death to the pub­lic lib­erty.”

As you con­tem­plate year-end giv­ing and make plans for 2017, think not only about where you can meet the im­me­di­ate needs of your com­mu­nity — but also where you also can in­vest to en- sure the en­durance of our democ­racy. Phi­lan­thropy can be a deeply op­ti­mistic act — re­flect­ing the be­lief that we can have a pos­i­tive im­pact on our own lives, on the lives of oth­ers, and on vi­tal so­ci­etal is­sues.

To quote Jef­fer­son once more: “The peo­ple of ev­ery coun­try are the only safe guardians of their own rights, and are the only in­stru­ments which can be used for their de­struc­tion.” Bruce DeBoskey,J.D., is a phil­an­thropic strate­gist work­ing across the U.S. with The DeBoskey Group to help busi­nesses, foun­da­tions and fam­i­lies de­sign and im­ple­ment thought­ful phil­an­thropic strate­gies and ac­tion­able plans. He is a fre­quent key­note speaker at con­fer­ences and work­shops on phi­lan­thropy. More in­for­ma­tion: de­boskey­group.com

Jupiter Im­ages

The Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence helped de­fine the prin­ci­ples of our coun­try.

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