The Fourth Branch: An Editorial


October 22, 2016 by LeVoyageur

by Mike LaForest

“[We the People] of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

I consider the people to be a branch of government — the fourth branch of American government. We the People are more powerful than the other three branches combined. We maintain our constitutional republic by adhering to and respecting the rule of law established by our constitution. Additionally, our forefathers put in place three branches of government as a series of checks and balances, so that [the people] would not have to worry about the tyranny of the minority.

Every President in my memory has tested the limits of their power through “executive order” in an attempt to circumscribe congressional authority. We the People have at times been apt watchdogs and have prevented unwanted actions by both the president and congress. Conversely, we the people have watched our President and the US Congress pass laws that are tantamount to blatant treachery. Wars have been waged in secret and when exposed, lies have been told to excuse the perpetrator and hang their henchmen.


Our government today runs much as it did in 1788 and throughout the last 228 years our Constitutional Republic has evolved into a Representative Democracy that, again, is theoretically of, for and by the people. Because our country has over 300 million citizens, it is imperative that the will of the people is exerted accurately and proportionately at the national level. And, in many ways it is. Generally speaking the United States Government is the longest serving democracy in the history of the civilized world and it has been a true success story.

On the other hand, having a representative democracy allows for the people to cast blame for our country’s problems, on a very nebulous concept – “the government.” Blame is heaped on every elected official in the United States, at every level, from the three branches of our National Government to the local level town governments in every county, in every State. It’s easy for citizens to blame the people they put in charge through the election process. Promises are made and not kept; services deteriorate; lobbyists sway congressional votes to their advantage; an endless tug-of-war between DNC and GOP ideologies keep the masses distracted from challenges that need to be addressed, but are ignored by legislatures more interested in power than in exacting the will of the people and little gets done to ameliorate the associated problems.

Politicians make careers out of jobs that were meant to be voluntary in the beginning, but have been transformed into powerful positions of self-dealing. We can complain about it all we want, but as long as 95% of incumbent legislators at the Federal and State level, continue to get re-elected every election cycle, there will continue to be no vested interest on the part of any legislative body to change the rules of our elections, nor the course of their own actions during their tenure as elected officials.

We the People can point the finger of blame at the other three branches of government and accuse them all of misconduct in office, of blatant corruption or of breach of their oath of office. But, in the final analysis, the blame for every challenge, every problem, every corrupt politician, every misguided law, and every nonsensical public project rests squarely on the shoulders of the fourth branch of government — WE THE PEOPLE.

We the People continue to elect and reelect corrupt, inept, self-centered, power-mongers to executive, legislative and judicial positions and yet we keep thinking things will change. There is a reason Americans in general are the laughing stock of the world. The reason is a perverse naiveté that is born of complacency, apathy and ignorance. None of these attributes are justifiable in the greatest country on earth, but they are all well deserved.


Ben Franklin’s cartoon, commenting on The Albany Plan of Union, 1754, and illustrating the need for the colonies to unite as a nation.

Every American citizen is aptly responsible for every problem we have, from a corrupt government to a crumbling transportation infrastructure, to hunger, to a lack of adequate health care, to unemployment, to blatant disregard for immigration laws, and on and on. Every American citizen who votes for establishment candidates at any level – candidates whose primary goal is to get re-elected – is responsible for every problem they encounter at every public service office they have to communicate with.

No problem in any state or our country at large will change until we change WHO we elect to every position of every level of government and, more importantly, HOW we elect them. Establishment candidates are tantamount to rubber stamps for their respective parties and have only the interests of those parties at heart in every decision they make. No decision, large or small is made without calculating the repercussions to the parties they belong to. The constituency takes a back seat to party affiliation and special interests on a consistent basis.

So, back to the blame game. Who is responsible for every problem in our country? The answer is very simple — it is WE THE PEOPLE.

Federal and state legislators know they’ll get re-elected regardless of how they act in office. Both major parties are to blame for the obscene way our elections are run and they both have devolved into an aberration of government. Our state and federal legislatures have become abominations masquerading as democratic institutions. But, We the People continue to elect and reelect the same legislators who, by virtue of being elected or re-elected, presume to have a mandate to continue down the path of subservience to special interests and party affiliation.

In the end, We the People have nobody to blame but ourselves. The fifty percent of us who vote AND the fifty percent of us who don’t bother to exercise our constitutional right to vote, are equally to blame for the sham of a government we now blindly believe to be a true democracy. Regardless of the reasons why people don’t vote, they simply don’t, and they are as much to blame for our governments’ failings as are the people who actually vote for establishment candidates. The establishment parties, the DNC and the GOP, have a rein on power in this country and it will take nothing short of a revolution or Constitutional Convention to break their hold on those reins of power.

The bells of liberty reverberated throughout the colonies when America was a fledgling nation and they called to arms every citizen who cherished their freedom. Now those same bells are ringing and We The People must chose a course of action that resonates with a true democracy – an institution whose foundation proclaims the fundamental responsibilities of a government that is of, for and by the people. We the people, the 4th branch of government, must rise up and meet this challenge before it is too late.

Change starts with We the People and the voting booth is the most powerful tool our democracy gives us. Those who can vote, must vote! And we must start voting our conscience and not our fears. The trumpets of dignity and justice lend their refrain to our countrymen each time we are afforded the opportunity to lend our voice to a local, state or national discourse, through the election process. Those same trumpets draw attention to any national disgrace that scars our democratic will. At present our true national disgrace is the people’s apathy toward our electoral process combined with willful ignorance by our citizenry of the many challenges that threaten our national integrity.

A testament to our will to preserve our democracy is found in our engagement in the political process of voting. Not just voting as a rote exercise every two or four years, but voting as a means to make our voices heard. It is a simple thing to ask of our citizens, but profoundly necessary if we are to keep the other three branches of government in check. But, allowing the DNC and GOP, by way of the media, and special interest financiers, to sway our votes through fear mongering and sensationalism is the antithesis of what “voting” really means. When we vote our conscience, our vote reflects our hopes and dreams for a democracy that works for We the People, not just the other three branches of our government. When votes are cast out of fear, anger or ignorance, the two major political parties win every time.

Mike LaForest is a long-time social activist from Michigan. He has lived in Wisconsin for decades and during that time has been involved in community affairs as a political candidate, professional counselor, communal gardener, and as an active member of his community. He gardens, volunteers, works, and holds passionate views on the state of our nation today.

©Mike LaForest, 2016

10 thoughts on “The Fourth Branch: An Editorial

  1. Pierre Lagacé says:

    The same applies now in Québec and applied in Canada under Harper…
    We will wait and see with the new government with Justin Trudeau as the leader.
    I “fear” he is also watched closely by who hold the real power.

    Great reflection Mike.

  2. I travelled through fifteen states last spring from Montreal through Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Saint-Louis, Kansas City, Santa Fe and back through Colorado and Wyoming, and then along the I80 to Detroit. Talked to many Americans, from all walks of life, Democrats, Republicans, Independents. I have never seen so many people so profoundly disturbed by the state of their country, dispirited, and concerned… lost, unabled to figure a way out. I know there are people like you, who share your point of view. That is comforting. And I hope that you can band together to reform your country, from the bottom up. But I am not naive either. I know the challenges that you must overcome.

    The stakes are high.

    I am from Québec. It wouldn’t matter if I came from Spain or India. We are all worried about the state of the world, and as to the ovferwhelming role your country plays throughout this world… for better and for worst, both. We are worried that the people of your country would be led to choose to go to war rather than face up to their internal problems. I also know that your people have come back from terrible situations in the past.

    Wish you luck.

    • Michael LaForest says:

      Thank you for your perspective. My partner and I have traveled extensively throughout the US in the past couple years and have experienced the same as you have. So much discouragement. I hope my editorial will help.

  3. A half century ago, some young activists assembled to write a manifesto : The Port Huron Statement. A few years later, I read this document as I was educating myself and becoming increasingly conscious of the political, cultural and social environment in which i was living. It was one of the few documents that helped shape my whole outlook on the world at the end of my teens. One of the persons who was most involved in writing this document was Tom Hayden.

    I learned that he died yesterday :

    Mike Laforest’s text above reminded me of the Port Huron Statement when I read it.

  4. Jesse LaForest says:

    Mike, very well written, I enjoyed it thoroughly and I shall share, the most powerful sentence to me at this time so close to an election is this, We the People continue to elect and reelect corrupt, inept, self-centered, power-mongers to executive, legislative and judicial positions and yet we keep thinking things will change. Once again thank you, have a blessed and safe day. A distant cousin. Jesse LaForest

    • Michael LaForest says:

      Jesse; thanks for your kind thoughts and for sharing the editorial with others. I hope it is shared far and wide, this week before the election. Michael

  5. Reblogged this on sillage and commented:
    Je suis américain aujourd’hui…

  6. […] Le blogueur franco-américain du Michigan, James Laforest a très bien exprimé ce point de vue : The Fourth Branch: An Editorial. J’ai commenté son article en lui disant que son texte me rappelait un autre texte, publié il y […]

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