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Continue to keep democracy alive

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By The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government

 

Happy 238th Birthday, America! It’s also the birthday of the Federal Freedom of Information Act, which appropriately was born on the Fourth of July in 1966. We hope all Americans — Republicans, Democrats and Independents — will observe this day by remembering the values that unite rather than divide us. 

We authors of this editorial — a Democrat and a Republican — disagree on many issues, but we find common ground on the importance of transparency in government-one of the major principles upon which our country was founded several generations ago.

A recent article in the New Yorker magazine noted that at the time Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, “the mystery of state, in which a king was crowned by the hand of God, yielded to a democracy in which the rulers are elected and the secrets of state are made public.” This concept of transparency was further embedded in the Constitution, a direct response to prior abuses of the British crown such as arbitrary arrests and property confiscations.

We are fortunate that our founders knew that a strong democracy depended upon government that was subject to public scrutiny and criticism. They also knew this is possible only when executive, legislative and judicial decision-making is open to the public.


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