We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Toby Harndon, writing in the London Telegraph, rightly reports that "the mood is dark" in America this Independence Day, calling us "the United States of gloom."
The last comparable Fourth of July was probably in 1980, when there was a recession, skyrocketing petrol prices and an Iranian hostage crisis, with 53 Americans being held in Tehran.
Frank Luntz, perhaps America’s pre-eminent pollster, argues that his countrymen are much more downbeat now than in 1980. “The assumption with the Carter years was that it was a failure of the elites, not the system. We thought the people in charge screwed up. We didn’t blame ourselves.” Remarkably, many Americans think things will only get worse and the good times will never return.
Peter Mallory is "Reflecting on the strength or lack thereof of the Constitution on the 4th of July."
As we celebrate the Fourth of July, it gives us time to pause and consider the watering down of what is probably the finest political document of its kind ever written by man: the U.S. Constitution.
The people who wrote it are probably the smartest and most well informed group ever assembled for the purpose of forming a government.
Unfortunately, many Americans do not grasp the concepts that are embodied in the Constitution and have therefore little or no understanding of what is in the Constitution or why it was written the way it was.
Daniel Greenfield asks "What do we celebrate when we celebrate the Fourth of July?"
Is it the independence from being ruled by an out of touch government thousands of miles away, taxed at their pleasure, and told to be grateful for it?
Is it home rule under our own elected officials who can’t be trumped by the decision of some political appointees whom we never voted for?
A victory won by militias that don’t exist anymore, on behalf of freedoms that are constantly under assault from the nation’s own capital?
Michael Goodman is equally pessimistic, saying that we are "Forgetting Founders' tough love."
Yet all around us, traditional values of independence and hard work, based on modest expectations and personal humility, are being eroded. In the "culture of me," everybody is a star.
Should you dare protest, you are attacked as greedy. Insist that failure must have its consequences, and you are scolded for lacking compassion.
Never mind that you lived with the old values, that you sacrificed and worked and saved for what you have. Now you must pay and pay again for those who didn't. Oh, and shut up about it, too.
That is the fault line of America's culture war in 2011. Pray that the spirit and wisdom of the founders prevails. Otherwise, our nation won't.
I wish I could write something uplifting this Independence Day.
I wish I could say that all the pessimism reflected above is unwarranted.
It is not.
Abraham Lincoln, who was so very wrong about the Constitution and many other things was right about this: no nation can long exist half slave and half free. It must eventually become one or the other. It is more than a little ironic that Lincoln cynically used slavery to attack the Founders' conception of liberty and to vastly expand the power and reach of the Federal government, yet in the largest sense Lincoln was correct. A country is either dedicated to liberty or collectivism.
As it happens, today we are in fact two countries existing withing the same border. One people views the government as the source of everything good. The other views it, as the Founders did, as a bulwark of ordered liberty and opportunity -- BUT NOTHING MORE. We agree with Washington that government is a dangerous servant but an even more fearful master. The question is, will the federal government serve the people's interests or the people serve the government's interests?
We are, as people, far more philosophically divided now than ever before in our history. As a diligent student of history, I can tell you that societies so divided never have reconciled such deep divides without violence.
And, like 1860, we are just one dead Supreme Court justice, one stolen election, one Reichstag fire or even one failed Gunwalker Scandal investigation away from the irresistible slide to civil war.
The only thing I can do myself is to continue to strive to maintain what liberty is left -- and to regain lost liberties -- by peaceful means while preparing myself and others for doing so by other means.
And that's the only Independence Day declaration I have for you today.