As you’re grillin’ and chillin’ over the next couple of days, make sure to take some time out to remember the reason for the July 4th holiday and what it means to us today. The following writers provide food for thought this holiday weekend:
Glenn Reynolds: Three things you can do for liberty:
But if you’re looking for ways to make Independence Day a bit more about, well, independence, then allow me to offer a few suggestions. If you like, you can put them off until July 5 so as not to interfere with the fireworks, hotdogs and beer, though if you want to email a photo of yourself eating a hotdog to Mayor Bloomberg on July 4, be my guest.
While Independence Day is about independence from Great Britain, today it’s also associated with more general notions of freedom — individual independence, not just political independence.
Unfortunately, America’s political class doesn’t want you independent. It wants you as dependent as possible. As the Rainmakers sang back in the 1980s, “They’ll turn us all into beggars ’cause they’re easier to please.”
So what can you do? Everybody focuses on the 2012 elections, and those are important. But why wait? Here are three things you can do now.
Read the rest here.
Dozens of countries have “Independence Days.” November 25th, for example: Independence Day in Suriname. In that instance as in most others, the designation signifies nothing more than transfer of de jure sovereignty and de facto operational control from a distant European capital to a more local regime. 1975 in Suriname’s case. They had the first military coup seven years later.
But in America “Independence” seemed as much a statement about the character of a people as a designation of jurisdictional status. The first Americans were British subjects who had outgrown a British king as benign and enlightened as any ruler on the planet. They demanded “independence” not from foreign rulers of another ethnicity but from their own compatriots with whom they had a disagreement about the nature of government. Long before the Revolutionary War, small New England townships governed themselves to a degree no old England towns did. “Independence” is not about the replacement of a king in London with a president in Washington but about the republican virtues of a self-reliant citizenry free to exploit its own potential.
Please, no snickering. The self-reliant citizen? In the damning formulation of contemporary American vernacular, he’s history — as in over and done with, fuhgeddabouttim. What’s left of that founding vision on this less than Glorious Fourth of July 2011 in the Brokest Nation in History? “You go talk to your constituents,” President Obama taunted Republicans on Wednesday, “and ask them, are they willing to compromise their kids’ safety so that some corporate-jet owner continues to get a tax break?”
In the Republic of Brokistan, that’s the choice, is it? Give me safe kids or give me corporate jets! No corporate aviation without safe kiddification! In his bizarre press conference on Wednesday, Obama made no fewer than six references to corporate-jet owners. Just for the record, the tax break for corporate jets was part of the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” — i.e., the stimulus. The Obama stimulus. The Obama-Pelosi-Reid stimulus. The Obama-Pelosi-Reid-Democratic-party stimulus that every single Republican House member and all but three Republican senators voted against. The Obama–Corporate Jet stimulus that some guy called Obama ostentatiously signed into law in Denver after jetting in to host an “economic forum.”
Charles Krauthammer did the math. If you eliminate the Obama-Pelosi-Reid Corporate Jet Tax Break, you would save so much dough that, after 5,000 years, you would have clawed back enough money to cover one year of Obama’s debt. Five thousand years is the year 7011. Boy, our kids’ll really be safe by then. I see some leftie at MSNBC has just been suspended for characterizing the president’s performance on Wednesday as that of a demotic synonym for the male reproductive organ. So I shall be more circumspect and say only that even being a hollow unprincipled demagogue requires a certain lightness of touch Obama can’t seem to find.
Jeff Jacoby writes an eloquent piece commemorating Independence Day:
If Nature and Nature’s God intended human beings to be free and equal, then the only legitimate government must be self-government. For if none of us is naturally subordinate or superior to anyone else, no one has the right to rule us without first obtaining our approval. Political power, Locke had written, stems “only from compact and agreement, and the mutual consent of those who make up the community.’’
The Declaration of Independence emphasized the point. Not only are all persons endowed by nature with the unalienable rights of equality and freedom, it avowed, but “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.’’
No lawful government without consent and self-rule: It was an extraordinary doctrine for its time. It had never been the springboard from which a new nation was launched. Yet to pursue this “theory of democracy,’’ as Coolidge called it, “whole congregations with their pastors’’ had pulled up stakes in Europe and migrated to America.
Steeped in the imagery of the Hebrew Bible, the colonists believed that God had led them, as he had led ancient Israel, from a land of bondage to a blessed Promised Land. Thomas Jefferson suggested in 1776 that the seal of the United States should depict the “Children of Israel in the Wilderness, led by a Cloud by Day, and a Pillar of Fire by night.’’ In that wilderness, Americans knew, God did not simply impose his rule on Israel. First the Hebrews had to give their consent: “And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord has spoken we will do.’’ Only then was there the revelation at Sinai, the Ten Commandments, and the Law. If God himself would not govern without the consent of the governed, surely King George had no right to do so!
July 4 marks more than American independence. It commemorates the great political ideals, rooted in faith and philosophy, that vindicated that independence – and that thereby transformed the world.
Amen to that!
Enjoy the fireworks, everyone
Update – 1:00 PM: The Charlotte Observer has a good round-up of local July 4th holiday celebrations.