On this anniversary of the founding of our nation, the birth of self-rule and the creation of the Hope-there's that word again!- of the world, it is essential that we reflect on what made this experiment work and why we need to return to those principles before the experiment fails...miserably.
"That government is best which governs least." This quote by Thomas Paine really sums it all up for me. Individual freedom and restrictions on governmental power are what made this country the astounding success of the enlightenment and the bright and shining example towards which all free-thinking peoples have aimed over the past 232 years. Those principles are threatened today by an attitude and ignorance that would have astounded the Founders and made them question the sacrifices they made to create this system of governance.
Think in terms of the finishing words of the Declaration of Independence, where the signers pledged to each other, "with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence", their lives, fortunes and scared honor. These words were not written or pledged in a hollow fashion. This political rhetoric is wholly different from that of our current crop of political functionaries. These men actually risked their lives, their families lives, all of their possessions and their "scared honor" in pledging to overthrow the rule of Great Britain and create a new nation and form of government. Many lost some or even all of these during the course of the war. But the cause prevailed.
Examining that cause today is somewhat disappointing. We seem to have gotten so far afield of our founding principles that the resulting colossus is almost unrecognizable. With full-time professional legislatures, the near elimination of "state's rights", an imperial presidency, taxation beyond any sensible measure and a budget and fiscal attitude that can only be described as ridiculous, does anyone think the Founders would recognize their creation in our current condition?
Every day, all around this country, full-time, professional tax-spenders are creating laws. And with each new law there is a new tax, a new criminal or a new deficit. Why is this the norm? Why do we now shrug and say, "Oh well. That's just the way it is"? These kinds of tyranny would have resulted in open rebellion two-hundred years ago!
We as a citizenry are at fault. We have taken to settling for unprincipled and unethical politicians that appeal to our basest instincts in order to gain office and retain their power. Most often these people count on our collective ignorance or our prejudices and differences to maintain and expand their power. The ignorance of the population regarding the incredible brilliance of our form of government and what trials and tribulations went into creating it is perhaps why these attitudes are so prevalent.
We have accepted schools and colleges that teach social diversity and politically correct rewrites of history, rather than the Truth. My children, who graduated over the past five years, did not have a Government or a Civics class. In place of this, the system offered a class called, "American Democratic Institutions", taught by teachers that couldn't pass the simplest test on the Constitution. We have accepted cults of personality, rather than good public servants. We have accepted an intolerance of religion rather than a tolerance of all faiths (including no faith). We accept hyper-sensitivity to all of our differences, rather than celebration of our much more considerable similarities.
Everyone should take the time to expand their knowledge of our Founding at this time of the year, if not at other times. Teach your children what they will not learn in our public schools. Talk about freedom and the principles of small, effective government and elect people who are principled and ethical, from the local dogcatcher to the President of the United States. If that movement ever catches on, the Founders might think the experiment was worthwhile after all.