Why I ignored Independence Day.
Yesterday was July 4th and in the United States that means the Declaration of Independence, parades, a holiday for the family. It is also the time of year that pious politicians dust off Jefferson’s magnificent document, quote from various passages for a few minutes before filing it away to be totally ignored for another year.
I don’t get excited about Independence Day myself. Why should I spend much time celebrating ideas and a belief that was murdered long ago by the American political elite? This idea that government derives their just powers from the people died out long before I was born.
If government derived its powers from the people then the government could only be given powers which the people themselves posses. We have the power of self-defense and thus government can be given the power of providing for the common defense.
But where does the individual, for instance, get the power to confiscate money from his neighbor in order to force the neighbor’s children to attend an education center where the child will be taught sexual abstinence or any other doctrine?
What individual has the right to ransack the library of a neighbor checking if he is reading morally uplifting and decent books?
Does any individual have the right to confiscate the property of the people next door in order to finance his favorite cause?
If the people themselves do not have such rights then how can they bestow such powers on the government? They can’t. The ideals of the Founders have been dead for some time. It started dying while they still breathed as the Alien & Sedition Acts so tellingly showed.
For the most part the so-called “Right” will be cheering me along here, except for those taken in by the neo-fascist agenda of the Bush regime. Some people, who call themselves conservatives, will think I’m pretty much on track. So let me burst their bubble as well.
Conservatives are pretty much like the politicians. They too quote copious passages from the Declaration. And just as they love to cherry-pick Bible passages they cherry-pick the Declaration.
Their proclaimed love for the sentiments of the Declaration is fraudulent. They love that section condemning King George for sending “swarms” of bureaucrats to “eat out” the sustenance of the American people. They cheer it and quote from it. But King George was condemned for numerous reasons and there is one they don’t usually quote. That’s what I mean about cherry-picking the Declaration. The unquoted condemnation says:
“He [King George] has endeavoured to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws of naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither.”
The British Crown was trying to build a legal wall around migration to the United States. I bet you won’t see Pat Buchanan quoting that section of the Declaration anytime soon.
Don Boudreaux noted that the context of this passage is far important to remember He points out that when this was written the country was much, much smaller and “each parcel of land fed many fewer mouths than lands feed today” that “the amount of capital per worker was a tiny fraction of what is now” and that living standards were much lower. Yet the Declaration condemned the Crown for restricting immigration.
Of course I can’t get excited about Independence Day anymore, the holiday has become dominated by those pious politicians and phony patriots. The politicians care little for the nation and only want to gather unto themselves as much power and prestige as possible. And these so-called “patriots” substitute their own racism and bigotry for the open, liberal system advocated by men like Jefferson.
The holiday is dominated by people who have abandoned the ideals of the Declaration and cling to empty phrases which they have stripped of real meaning. Such hollowness is not inspiring. It is not worth celebrating. When the actual ideals of the Declaration are resurrected then we may have something to celebrate until then it’s just another day. If anything it is a day to mourn, to remember all that was possible but which died. To continue celebrating the day, to leave that magnificent Statue of Liberty, with her torch held high, still standing in New York Harbor, is an act of fraud. It is false advertising of the most deceptive kind.