The Fourth of July is fast approaching and will mark the 235 year since Americans declared their Independence and set forth principles for governance under the American experiment. For most, July 4th is a day spent with family and friends, a town parade, the barbeque fired up, and capped off by fireworks. This July 4th may also be a good time to reconnect with the actual words and spirit in the Declaration of Independence penned by Thomas Jefferson.
The Declaration is a one page document of modest length that is easily read and understood. The Declaration has five principle parts. The first part discusses the intent of the People of the then 13 colonies to separate ties from Great Britain and in doing so they feel obligated to “declare the causes that impel them to separation”. The second part discusses the philosophical underpinnings for our unique existence as Americans: unalienable rights, the basis for just government, and the right alter or abolish forms of government. Who can forget these timeless words?
“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”
“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”
The third part literally lists the “history of repeated injuries and usurpations” line by line. The fourth part, discusses the good faith attempts by Americans in their petitioning for redress to avoid the break with Great Britain; but to no avail. Finally, the fifth part declares Independence- “That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States”.
It is worth reflecting on whether today’s Federal government is meeting the aspirations of Life, Liberty an the Pursuit the Declaration of Independence and limits imposed on Washington by the Constitution, particularly Article 1 Section 8, and the 10th Amendment. Consider just these recent abuses:
The list could go on and surpass the list in the Declaration of Independence by orders of magnitude. Is this the America that the Founders intended when they broke from Great Britain? Let’s face it. Congress is no longer serving the People within the limits of the Constitution. Most members have been serving themselves and their special interests for decades at our expense. Congress behaves like an unaccountable aristocracy, respects no bounds, and believes once elected they can do whatever they want. They have figured out just how much to bleed us while perpetually binding us in the chains of Federal intrusion and the cold embrace of the nanny state.
And what has the petitioning from Americans through letters, town halls, meetings and elections decades resulted in over the decades? More government intrusion and spending as they hurdle us towards the precipice. So what is worse- having no representation like in 1776 or having representation that does not listen, governs irresponsibly beyond its mandate, and repeatedly violates their oath of office and sacred trust?
Unlike the Founders, we still have many additional avenues for redress. Shall we continue to tamely submit to these abuses, robbery and control, and be content with the truncated future they are serving us and our children? Or will we stand up together, draw a hard line, and compel our public servants to make the tough decisions fiscally and to scale back the out of control Federal Government? The People and the States have the power morally, philosophically and practically under the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, including the 10th Amendment. It is just a matter of enough people and States deciding to say NO like the States, the Founders and everyday Patriots did in 1776. Fortunately, patriotic citizens, local grassroots groups and national groups like the 10th Amendment Center are already engaged in this cause.
So on this coming July 4, 2011, read the Declaration with friends and families, reflect on conditions today, and get involved with your neighbors in restoring America. It can and must be done.
Jim Vetter [send him email] is the Outreach Director for the Pennsylvania Tenth Amendment Center
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