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July 04, 2003
Lives, Fortunes, Sacred Honor

An indispensable educational resource: A User's Guide to the Declaration of Independence.

It is a shame that the average American doesn't read the Declaration even once a year, much less take the trouble to understand it. I know an immigrant or two who treasure it more dearly than do many or most of my fellow native-born citizens. Sometimes it's enough to make me wonder if a mere accident of geography is an adequate standard for conferring citizenship.

Of course, the average American, even ignorant of the specifics, still knows in his heart that he has rights that cannot be trampled on. Though he may not understand why -- on what basis he enjoys his rights -- he still knows in his gut that they are his.

There are those who, having been born & brought up here in the same great nation as you and I, the only nation specifically created on the basis that The People are the masters of government and not its servants, are intent on turning that equation on its head. These people -- we could call them elitists, I suppose -- believe that average people don't know what's best for them, and seek to impose a de facto system that ensures that government is indeed the master of us all, controlling our lives from afar in innumerable ways.

These "elitists" can often be found in adademia, in the media, in various lobbying groups. Lots of places. People who would not only say that they know how you ought to live your life, but are also willing to force you to do it their way. Naturally, these elitists propose to be the masters, based on their self-defined superiority. They do not, in other words, trust people to take care of themselves.

In many ways, they have succeeded. Don't believe me? Try buying a gun in Washington, DC. Try smoking in a bar in New York. Try not having a Social Security Number.

That bunch of "dead white guys," the Founding Fathers, understood these dangers. Not merely understood -- they lived through them, ruled without representation by an unaccountable government. They, to our good fortune, decided to do something about it.

But they did not act unthinkingly, without principle. In most countries most of the time, revolutions serve only to replace one set of masters with another -- but there are always masters.

We got lucky; the Founders didn't seek to put a local King on an American throne. They had a guiding set of principles, clearly expressed, on which they built a nation.

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.
As they say, read the whole thing.

Happy Fourth.

Posted by Russ at 01:09 PM, July 4, 2003 in Politics

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