The Fourth of July is called Independence Day because it commemorates the Continental Congress ratifying the text of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Two days before that, the Continental Congress had officially made the decision to formally announce to Britain and the world that the united thirteen American colonies no longer considered themselves under the authority of the King of Great Britain.
So, although the official decision to revolt against Great Britain was made on July 2, and the actually signing of the finished document was done on August 2, we celebrate the “birthday” of the United States of America on the Fourth of July.
This is our history, which happens to make me particularly proud of our nation on many levels. However, I seriously wonder how relevant Independence Day or the Declaration of Independence is to Americans today. For most folks, the Fourth of July is just a fun way to kick off the summer; a time for family get-togethers, barbecues, fireworks and an excuse for excessive drinking.
236 years ago, our founders so firmly believed in the principles of freedom, personal responsibility and self-determination that they were willing and eager to sign their names to the Declaration, which closed by stating, “And, for the support of this Declaration, with the firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” They did not say that lightly. Many of the signers endured dishonor, financial devastation and loss of life as a result of their commitment to “independence”.
But these days such a “revolutionary” attitude is rare to come by. Almost every time we hear from Obama (OWHNI) or the Congress, the issue seems to revolve around what government can or should or will do for us. In other words, most political issues are some incarnation of the people’s DEPENDENCE upon government. This attitude of dependence reinforces the concept of governmental authority, just as in the roles of a parent/child relationship: the child, dependent upon the parent, is equally subject to the authority of the parent.
Commenting on a recent paper by Publius Huldah entitled, “The Biblical Foundation Of Our Constitution” (it may be read at http://publiushuldah.wordpress.com/) I emailed her my thoughts on changing attitudes about authority, the rejection of traditional and formal authorities and an increase in the idea that there are no rules; everyone does as he pleases.
Her response to my email cut to the heart of the matter. She wrote about objective, “transcendent Principles” that were abandoned when Americans embraced the philosophy of Pragmatism. When Americans hold transcendent Principles to be authoritative in their lives, their laws and government must conform to those Principles. That’s what the Declaration of Independence laid out: transcendent Principles. And when those principles are replaced with pragmatism, “… all that’s left is personal opinion or group consensus or the will of the tyrant.”
(Publius Huldah clearly presents, “Where do Rights come from? God? The Constitution? The supreme Court? Or the “government”? in a two-part video, 22 minutes long at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMpXBckyDac and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oN29tAiNV7o)
The common, popular notion is that we are a democracy. This is only true in the most generalized sense, when we use the term “democracies” to describe nations belonging to “the free world”, differentiating them from dictatorships. But our constitutional form of government is not a true democracy. It’s far better than a democracy.
Democracy is nothing more than group consensus. Consensus is not guided by principles and consensus is in a constant state of flux. Popular attitudes and methods of doing things are always changing. What allows our federal republic to avoid the pitfalls of ever-changing values and public opinion is our reliance on transcendent Principles, something democracy itself cannot guarantee.
But that is where we are. The principles of the constitution are being disregarded, and without them, we are being ruled by the consensus of the moment, enabling a tyranny of oligarchs, making us vulnerable to their illegitimate authority and their unprincipled agendas. Americans have willingly become DEPENDENT upon government and subject to it’s increasingly intrusive authority.
How can anyone who seeks to increase his dependence upon one government celebrate his independence from another government? We are either ignorant or hypocrites. Is being DEPENDENT upon the federal government of the United States any better than being DEPENDENT upon the government of King George III? We are supposed to be celebrating the fact that we are independent, but it has become increasingly unclear, independent from what?
Since “Independence Day” celebrates the Declaration of Independence, I highly recommend actually reading that document, noting in particular, the specific grievances the Continental Congress listed against King George III. Many of those grievances still apply to our elected government in general and to the President in particular.
Enjoy your family get-togethers. Enjoy your barbecues and beer. Enjoy your fireworks. There’s nothing wrong with having a good time. But frankly, celebrating independence has become oxymoronic. The Fourth of July should be renamed DEPENDENCE DAY, if that’s what the people really want. As it has been said, “Get ‘er done!” With the federal debt exceeding the GDP, it won’t make any difference any way.