|The lofty rhetoric of the Declaration of
Independence from 1776 is so fundamental to American political values that
it deserves review. Excepts are repeated here, without all the
grievances which were listed as a final attempt to justify their actions
to the King and Parliament in case war could still be avoided.
Personal thoughts about the
Declaration follow the excerpts below.
|"We hold these
truths to be self-evident ..."
When in the course of human events, it becomes
necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have
connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the
separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God
entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they
should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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 foundations on such principles and
organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to
effect their safety and happiness.
|Prudence, indeed, will dictate that
long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and
accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to
suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing
the forms to which they are accustomed.
But 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. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies, and
such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former
systems of government.
|The history of the present King of Great
Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in
direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states.
To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
(a long list of
specific grievances follows in the Declaration)
|'... are, and of
right ought to be, free and independent states..."
In every stage of these oppressions we have
petitioned for redress in the most humble terms; our repeated petitions have
been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is
thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler
of a free people.
Nor have we been wanting in our attention to
our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of
attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over
us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and
settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and
magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to
disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably intercept our connections
and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice
and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity
which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of
mankind, as enemies in war, in peace, friends.
|We, therefore, the representatives of the
United States of America, in general congress assembled, appealing to the
Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the
name and by authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish
and declare; that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be, free
and independent states; that they are absolved of all allegiance to the
British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state
of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that as free
and independent states they have full power to levy war, conclude peace,
contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things
which independent states may of right do.
And, for the support of this declaration, with
a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge
to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.
all the signatures)
Personal thoughts about the
Declaration of Independence
|When was the last time that a group of US
political leaders of differing views agreed to "mutually pledge to each
other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor", as they concluded in
Those are not just pretty words. Look up the
punishment for treason in their time. If you ever wondered about
the meaning of "cruel and unusual punishment", or the quote after the
signing of the Declaration about needing to hang together or all hang
separately, this should provide the very grim context of that era.
|The point is that "governments are instituted
among men" through informed consent and common purpose, rather than partisan
There is plenty to debate, as nobody has a monopoly on good ideas,
but the premise is one of cooperation to achieve progress together on great issues
rather than endless petty bickering over partisan positions.
The endless flow of ad hominem political attacks in recent
years is the work of
petty and egotistical, arrogant minds rather than great leaders. It is
a national disgrace, dishonoring all Americans.
|Those who primarily focus on political party
loyalty and power ahead of respectful debate and careful consideration of
differing view are working in the wrong system of government.
This is not a
parliamentary system in which one party rules while the other sits on the
back bench in
opposition, plotting for the eventual day when they can be elected to
rule with similar power again.
Nancy Pelosi, in particular, openly declared that her role
ensure that her party won more power in the next election. She is
not Prime Minister. Party politics is not the principle on which the
House and Senate were created in our system of government. They are
forums to achieve progress together, rather than for a few rulers to impose
any laws they want by decree like tyrannical oligarchs in an authoritarian
system of government.
All representatives should be respected, not because of their political
party affiliation or seniority, but because they were chosen by voters
through free and
fair elections to do the work of government as public servants with their "sacred honor"
They all serve the entire country by working with each other, and bring dishonor on
their high offices by disrespectfully attacking each other.
The individual freedoms which we take for granted are still remarkable in
much of the world more than 200 years after our Revolutionary War.
There is much in this "status quo" which merits vigilant conservative
protection against the latest liberal ideas about how to mandate changes in
our lives through federal government power.
Educating for Liberty: The Best of Imprimis,
1972-2002, by Douglas A. Jeffrey
|Scholars have made careers out of the study of
this relatively brief but crucial period of history as an inflection point
in the modern theory and practice of government institutions and policies.
The point is simply that it is worthwhile to get back to basics, and despite
any flaws in the compromises which made it possible to reach consensus in
the past, recognize that truly great things can be accomplished within just
a few years with principled leadership and unity about proposed changes,
rather than mandated changes.
|Not even the formidable military powers of
Great Britain at the height of its empire could mandate changes against
citizens who would no longer consent to their continued rule, whether in the
birth of the United States or the independence of India roughly 170 years
Similarly, not even the ruthless tyranny of many despotic regimes
has proven capable of lasting for very long in modern history. The
ideals and achievements of the United States, as a united people who keep
trying to improve our representative government, have stood in stark
contrast to many foreign leaders who have sought to defend only their own unchecked powers
to rule with impunity and misery for all.
Such tyranny is not always a direct threat to us, but we should remain
vigilant about abuses of the trust and power we place in the hands of our
own elected officials in either political party. They are elected to
serve the people of this country - not for their party to gain the power
they need to impose their own rules through federal government mandates.
That is what we fought against, not to create and defend.
In our system, it is up to us, the individual voters, to always remain
vigilant against nascent tyranny or any other abuses of public trust or
power by the elected officials of any party from any state. This is
not a government of allegiance sworn to those who wield power today.
We the people are still in charge here.
Our oath of office is the other way around - to honor the power of the
people who elect our leaders. We don't swear allegiance to our
political party or to a particular leader. Our elected and appointed
public officials swear to uphold the
Constitutional protections which reflect the will of all the citizens of
America, not the
will of the current leaders or political party which have obtained a
majority of votes at the time.
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