Happy Fourth of July

A portrayal of the Second Continental Congress and the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.

A portrayal of the Second Continental Congress and the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.

It is worth your time some time today between attending Fourth of July parades and the requisite grilling as part of a federal holiday barbecue to read Brian Vanyo’s essay “What Do We Celebrate on the Fourth of July?” Vanyo, an author and board member of the Constitution Leadership Initiative, points out that our national founding principles include strong leanings toward limited government power and a call to the people to resist encroachments on their rights by a swollen government. Mr. Vanyo and I sing from the same choir book, as my recent essay re-posted on RealClearHistory discusses how the current administration has twisted the classic meaning of equality in the Declaration.

Vanyo writes, “The domineering government we have today was never the design of our founders — in the words of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, ‘An elective despotism was not the government we fought for.’ But the government we have today needs not be the government we keep. By the principles of our founding, we have the power to change our government and secure our inalienable rights.” That’s an idea worth re-discovering today, an idea far more important to the Fourth of July than the condition of any burger fresh off the grill.



Filed under Commentary, History of the Declaration of Independence

6 responses to “Happy Fourth of July

  1. Nice post Paul! I’ll be sharing this with some friends and family today. Thank you for writing this.

    • paulrhuard

      Kurt, thanks for stopping by. The ideas that created this nation are ideas that work, and that includes limited government that knows its own bounds. God help us if that axiom of the American experience is totally forgotten.

  2. Kerry

    Vanyo could not have been more correct in his thinking, especially, when you consider where we as a nation have evolved. I love the quote from Paine…“a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.” Perhaps our leadership in Washington could spend a few moments in contemplation on what ideals in America are guilty of this wrong-headed thinking. I should think the list would be quite long. Clearly we have elected a permanent class of bureaucrats that inwardly and sometimes outwardly profess that they know best and that they no longer need to be accountable to the American people. I cannot remember when so many have appeared before Congress and testify that they know nothing! Pathetic!

    Thanks for the post and the reflecting that all of us should do on this Great Experiment called America.

    • paulrhuard

      Kerry, I am fearful that we are past the tipping point when it comes to whether Americans will ever cherish again limited government. Needless to say that not only is a comment on voters, but also on the elected. What member of Congress, what president, really wants to walk away from the *power* that a bloated, intrusive bureaucracy offers him or her? Vanyo correctly points out in so many words that there needs to be a re-discovery of our revolutionary heritage. The “revolutionary solution” is a drastic one, so perhaps I am wrong and the American people will push back some day against a government that (in the words of the Declaration) deals in abuses and usurpations with their voices and votes. As always, great to hear from you.

      • I think that the one thing that I see in “my” generation is the rapid growth of political apathy. Looking to my peers and young adults at the college age (Who I interact with frequently) I find either the misplaced passion of a single issue voter or the brooding firestorm of apathy that is something even more infuriating than ignorant socialists. What many people of a younger age need is education. Not math and sciences or high SAT scores but basic comprehension of politics and how it affects them. The ones who are mobilized are either mindlessly devoted to one of the two parties or support something so radical that it’s almost comical. The ironic thing about the younger voting block is that it demonstrates the highest amount of political illiteracy yet boasts of the most education conventionally. America will not need a revolution to reform the government, just a people who have a less apathetic attitude to governance which can be brought on by education.

      • paulrhuard

        Mr. Risner, what a pleasure to hear from you! Alas, your assessment rings true based on what I have seen myself among young people. Despite billions spent on public education and civic awareness, in general your generation is the most highly educated but least informed and engaged in American history. I do not know what will sweep aside the apathy you mentioned, but I am desperate to find the magic bullet. The United States is a republic — if we can keep it.

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