Chamber Insider Blog

Brian’s Corner: “Out of Many, One”

Blog series written by Government Affairs Manager Brian Fauls

Join us on May 26th at Belmont Country Club, 8-10 a.m. — PolicyMaker Series: The State of the County featuring Chairwoman Phyllis Randall

E. Pluribus Unum is the official motto of the United States, adopted by Act of Congress in 1782.  The phrase is generally translated to mean “out of many, one,” and was chosen by Congress to reinforce the reality that 13 disparate states (or colonies until independence was achieve) were emerging from the fire of the revolution as one nation.  

Bringing together very different people with all “their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views” (to quote Ben Franklin) as one nation is very hard.  To bring them together AND to let them govern themselves, was such a radical idea at the time it was bordering on insane.  There was absolutely no guarantee that the American experiment in democracy would work.  In fact, the experiment started off rather badly.  Our first national government – organized under the Articles of Confederation – was weak, ineffective and fragile.  It completely collapsed in less than eight years.  Our second national government – organized under the Constitution – was much stronger and it as survived for 227 years.  

While there are many significant differences between the Articles and the Constitution – too numerous to mention – there is one small clause in the Constitution that I believe has played a vital role in preserving the union more than many people realize.  Article II, Section 3:

The President “shall from time to time give to the Congress information on the state of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”  The Constitution doesn’t say the President may or should give Congress information on the state of the Union, it says that he SHALL give Congress periodic information on the state of the Union.   In other words, Congress demands feedback, are we doing okay or do we need to do things differently to keep this Union running. 

Feedback is such a powerful tool for ensuring that things are running smoothly and identifying the problems to solve when things aren’t.  It works in business and it works for society.    

Many states have adopted the State of the Union model – although in Virginia, it’s called the State of the Commonwealth Address.  There are also many cities in the United States in which the mayor gives a State of the City address; and some counties have county executives give a State of the County address, but these are much rarer.  

Loudoun County is not the United States but we are still one community composed of many peoples, races, religions, languages and ancestries.  It takes constant effort and it takes feedback to forge our diversity into a shared sense of commonality and purpose.   Loudoun County is facing many challenges today.  We are fortunate that our current, and most recent, Chair of our Board of Supervisors appreciate the importance of periodically taking stock of the state of Loudoun’s union.   We need that feedback more than ever.

Join us on May 26th at Belmont Country Club, 8-10 a.m. — PolicyMaker Series: The State of the County featuring Chairwoman Phyllis Randall

 (image of “The First State of the Union Address” via Google Images)