Government - The Common Good

"A nation is formed by the willingness of each of us to share in the responsibility for upholding the common good."

"What we have to do is strike a balance between the idea that government should do everything and the idea,
the belief, that government ought to do nothing." Rep. Barbara Jordan

Listen to Barbara Jordan's Keynote speech at the 1976 Convention.

1. Why is her speaking at the convention considered remarkable?


2. Consider the principles she proffers regarding governing.
How would she assess the nation's adherence to the principles she espouses?


3. She warns against the divisiveness of self interest over the common good.

"Are we to be one people bound by common spirit or will we become a divided nation?" "There is no executive order; there is no law that can require the American people to form a national community. This we must do as individuals, and if we do it as individuals, there is no President of the United States who can veto that decision."

Her speech was given over 3 decades ago. Have we achieved her vision of a national community?


4. Evaluate 4 or more recent events in your community that were reported in the local section (or online version) of the newspaper.

Did the events work for the Common Good or did they serve a self interest?


5. Identify a recent government decision that served the common good.


Identify a recent government decision that served the self intrest of an individual or a few individuals.


"We believe that the people are the source of all governmental power;
that the authority of the people is to be extended, not restricted." Barbara Jordan 1976

"But this is the great danger America faces. That we will cease to be one nation and
become instead a collection of interest groups: city against suburb, region against region,
individual against individual. Each seeking to satisfy private wants." Barbara Jordan

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developed by Cynthia J. O'Hora Released to public domain in honor of women of courage and vision like Ms. Barbara Jordan, Posted 8/2008

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