It’s Independence Day. Coincidentally, that’s my favorite holiday, both because I’ve always been a fan of patriotism, and because it’s so close to my own birthday. But I’d argue that Independence Day is the most important non-religious holiday on the American calendar. And unfortunately, it’s the one that is the most at-risk from those who would like to either abolish it, or turn it into something meaningless. Allow me to explain…
History is…deceptive. By definition, history IS hindsight. It’s the process of looking back, and trying to make sense of what happened. History is written by the victors. (Well, that used to be true…after that Socialist Sociopath Howard Zin’s book A People’s History of the United States weaseled it’s way onto the list of required textbooks in colleges, universities, and some high schools, that’s no longer true. If you want to read a book that represents Ground Zero for what’s wrong with education, start with that one.) But history, even accurate histories, suffer from one, undeniable flaw: the impression of inevitability. Think about it. If you know how the movie ends, there’s little drama or suspense left. The heroes can make one stupid blunder after another, they can suffer overwhelming odds against them, or they can get the most improbable breaks imaginable, and yet, it doesn’t matter…you know how the story ends. Big deal.
There’s also the tendency to idolize or memorialize the heroes – make them larger than life. It’s human nature. But it also makes them seem less human, somehow. Invincible. Omniscient.
So when we look back to the events that culminated in the signing of the Declaration of Independence around July 4th, 1776, we don’t see these men as they saw themselves, or even as their British overlords saw them. We view them as mythic demigods – or for those who wallow in revisionist history, as evil, white devil masters. So what’s the truth, and how do we get there?
Until the counter-culture revolution of the 1960s, America was unashamed of its heroes. We celebrated our Founding Fathers and the Fourth of July with enthusiasm. Pride. Reverence. But Socialism, Marxism, and Communism have eaten away at this holiday and the foundations of our patriotism like a slow-acting acid, a cancer on our society. But instead of bewailing the manifest results of the works of Alinksky, et all, let’s try and put ourselves in the shoes of the Founding Fathers and ask ourselves, “What would we have done?”
The American Colonies of the 1700s was a vastly different place than the America of today. Virtually all of the colonists thought of themselves as “British.” But the British thought of the Americas as not an extension of England, but as a possession, to be used (and abused) as needed. Our struggle with Great Britain started, not over greed, a desire to throw off the yoke of masters from the other side of the world, or cultural differences. It began over one, simple problem: taxation without representation. You see, the government of Britain evolved to the point where it’s citizens expected it’s elected representatives to represent their interests. But America had no elected officials in Britain – only sympathetic advocates. Little by little, America bore the brunt of more taxes and less representation.
The men we think of today as “Founding Fathers” were what we’d call “civic leaders.” In other words, these were the guys willing to serve as elected officials. They were all reluctant to talk at first about breaking away from Britain. What they wanted was a fair deal – representation in Parliament. A say in how taxes were levied. Relief from laws they thought to be unfair. But Britain refused to listen, and characterized the colonists as “ingrates” or “upstarts.” a schism was…inevitable. But back then, it was anything BUT ordained.
Think about it. These were landowners. Businessmen. Most were either fairly well-off, affluent or even well-to-do. They had a LOT to lose. Remember, advocating for revolt against England was treason. And treason was punishable by death, not just for them, but for their families as well. IN short, this was a BIG DEAL. Look, too, at the odds. At the time, there was a saying, “The Sun never sets on the British Empire.” Britain ruled the seas. They had the largest naval force in the world. And the most powerful army. They were the 3,000 lb. gorilla – the 18th Century’s version of a Superpower. And by declaring independence, the Colonies were asking – no, begging Great Britain to turn that firepower our direction.
That we won the Revolutionary War was nothing short of a miracle. Yes, we had home-court advantage. And yes, we has a brilliant, charismatic leader in George Washington. Certainly, we had help from the French. But none of that lessens the miraculous victory we achieved.
But we celebrate Independence Day, not for our victory over Britain, but for what we DID with that victory. The Founders created an amazing nation. One unencumbered by royalty, dynasties, peerage, or any of the other trappings of European governments. No, our country was a grand experiment in governance, taking the best ideas of the brightest minds, and using them to leap ahead, crafting a form of government designed to work FOR “we the people,” instead of enslaving them.
The Continental Congress hammered out our Constitution in secret. It had to be so, to avoid having it held hostage by special interests. These men hammered out a compromise that was unique in all the world, a document that included safeguards to prevent a government run amok, either against the people, or within itself. The concepts of “Separation of Powers,” “Limited Government,” and the Bill of Rights were revolutionary in their own way. When asked “What kind of government have you given us, Mr. Franklin,” Benjamin Franklin replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” Prescient words, for over the years, those that don’t understand it have undermined the Constitution to the point now where it’s almost meaningless.
So here’s where we screwed up. The Constitution, as originally conceived, was like a fine, Swiss timepiece. Every cog, every spring, every lever had a specific purpose, and balanced each other in perfect unity and harmony. But then Progressives believed that this document was outdated and outmoded. They began tinkering with the formula. Slowly, methodically, they’ve changed the rules to the point where the built-in controls no longer work, and the government is free to do whatever it wants. its no longer a government in service to the people, but a people serving the government. Don’t believe me? Look no further than the case in Oregon, where a baker was put out of business, and their family finances destroyed by a governmental ruling that they should pay $135,000 to two women who claimed discrimination, because the baker refused to bake them a cake for their same-sex marriage. Seriously? But the kicker was when one government official slapped the bakers with a gag order, forbidding them to talk about the case in public. He went on to explain that the bakers aren’t being ‘punished’ but need ‘re-education.’
Shades of 1984.
Explain to me how this is any different from what’s gone on in the U.S.S.R., Communist China, or Cuba.
We were once a free country. We can be again. But as Franklin also said, “those who would trade freedom for security” deserve neither. The government today has amassed a lot of power by claiming that they are keeping us ‘safe.’ If we allow the government – for ANY reason – to curtail our Constitutionally-protected freedoms, we will lose them. And if we allow government officials to ignore the Constitution – for any reason – the Constitution becomes nothing more than a historical curiosity.
Happy Independence Day.