One can’t be as opinionated as I, and not post a message on Independence Day. As I have stated before, I remain concerned about the condition of our Republic. We no longer seem to be one nation…we have devolved into red and blue states, with the extreme right and left pulling the center apart. We’ve become a nation of “haves” and “have nots” We have lost touch with that primary Constitutional principle of “the common good.”
Two days before this date in 1776, the Continental Congress had actually voted to break with Britain. It was on this day in 1776 that the assembled adopted the Declaration that set in motion the events that would forge this republic. What does it mean to be a Republic? The word ‘republic’ is derived from the Latin phrase res publica which can be translated as “public affairs”. In its broadest definition, a republic is a state or country not led by a Monarch, and in which the people have influence on their government. Are we there yet, or did we have it and lose it?
I think we still have some ways to go, and sometimes I think we are losing ground. People of color have made progress, but make no mistake that racism remains alive and well. Gay people are only just starting to gain the legal rights to equal treatment. In that great document adopted on this day Jefferson talked about unalienable rights, and cited as examples “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” If we all merely stepped aside and granted to each person those three things, we would be closer to a perfect union.
The primary and stated purpose for creating a Republic from the many states is in the preamble to Constitution.
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.
The founders were intent on insuring several things for their and future generations. First is Justice and securing the Blessings of Liberty. The founders had previously cited King George’s unfair legal system that denied people fair trials, locked people away without charge or trial, took them to foreign soil without trial…sound familiar?
The others, “the common defense” and “promote the general Welfare” impose on Americans a need to care for one another. The idea that America is about nothing but individual freedom is not true. Each man is and should be free to pursue happiness, unless and until his goals come in conflict with the common good, or the rights of others. We seem to have so much lost sight of this part of our founding, and in that is where I find my fear for the survival of the republic.
We all complain that the government wastes money, and certainly in many cases they do, but so do big corporations. Any organization, once it’s large enough, supports a bureaucracy that is prone to waste and indifference. The hope of our founders is that the people would hold the government and their representatives accountable, and we can. With corporations, we have little recourse. So people go without healthcare and insurance because we allow our representatives to be bought and paid for by the insurance industry. We fail in educating our children because we don’t want to pay taxes, and we attend “tea parties” that are actually sponsored by wealthy corporations fomenting support for lower taxes on themselves, in the name of protecting “the little people.”
I read with dismay a “Declaration of Redependance” by a group called teapartynextstep.com. It’s a knockoff of the Declaration of Independence, with the frightening claim that the unalienable rights are “life, liberty and property.” Notice the change. It’s no longer about the pursuit of happiness, but the pursuit of “things” being called for by these people…a corporate claim. Robert J. McCracken wrote, “We on this continent should never forget that men first crossed the Atlantic not find soil for their ploughs, but to secure liberty for their souls,” and I believe that is part of how we have lost our way. We’ve become a nation more intent on having things than providing for the common good.
They go one to complain of:
Disrespect for the Lordship of our God and Creator, His Words in the Holy Bible and the Ten Commandments, His imprint upon our founding documents, the moral decline of our society, the compromise of traditional family and life issues, and the loss of our principles, values and Common Sense.
They forget the constant and important warnings of the founders against the combining of government and religion. We know that, in the history of man, the blending of the two has always brought an end to those governments.
Our current President brought big hopes from the people of America to his new home on Pennsylvania Avenue, and he has done some good, but his administration has also clung to too many of the destructive policies of his predecessor.
Americans are a strong and proud people. We have faced our mistakes before, and we have called ourselves and our leaders to account when it was necessary. Our previous administration lead us down a dangerous immoral and illegal path, and we must face those actions and call to account those who perpetrated crimes against humanity and against the Constitution of this country. This our Country can survive, but using the pretense that it never happened will surely bring this Republic to no good end.
I continue to fear for the Republic, but pray that I can share the same strength held by other good people who know that no American can enjoy liberty and justice until all Americans know those same blessings, and pray that I will have their courage to know that individuals can make a difference…in fact, most often do make the difference.
Happy 4th of July