Our nation is in danger of falling apart, our quilt of many colors is not only getting frayed but is in danger of tearing asunder as we continue to take up sides and argue about issues with increasing bitterness and hostility towards one another. We increasingly make noise but are failing to communicate with one another, we are neither hearing each other or listening to what is being said. Gentlemen and gentle ladies we have a problem.
If you don’t agree with the right wing, the so-called conservative wing of today’s Republican Party you are against them, therefore, and they refuse to listen to any other argument. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party is fixed on their positions as well.
The rest of America, the moderates and independent minded people who differ with both parties are ignored and not heard. This has to end. Nothing is getting done in Congress, and harsh feelings are growing throughout the country as each extreme hardens. The right wing has been particularly harsh and unrepentant about their positions. They insist on standing on their principles with no hint of a willingness to compromise. This is not what governing is about. What is happening has more in common with a family feud where each side insist that they are right. We the people have had enough of this nonsense, and demand more of our representatives in Washington and in our state capitals.
In the next several weeks I intend to attempt to debunk some of the myths that have been put out there regarding the history of our own revolution, and I will attempt to recite the words of our founders, those men who started our Republic, in order to challenge some of the misconceptions regarding our Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and what were the reasons for our rebelling against the British some 237 years ago.
As a lifelong lover of history one of the things that annoys me more than anything is when I hear conservatives talk about the Declaration of Independence as if it was something other than it was.
When a committee was put together to have a declaration written the purpose was to state in no uncertain terms that a compact or contract had been broken between those who lived in the colonies and the King of England and Parliament. In the declaration, it states that it was necessary for the people to dissolve our political bands with England and Jefferson who was the primary author declared the causes which impelled them to separate from their mother country.
For those who doubt my conclusions I suggest a source that everyone may choose to read. The book is entitled “THE SPIRIT OF SEVENTY-SIX.” It is a compilation of the words of those who participated in the American Revolution, their letters and other sources which give the reader their very reasons and words for what happened.
I would like to discuss the eloquent words of the Declaration that recent interpretations of so-called conservatives have me concerned.
The Declaration states,” 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.” Earlier in the Declaration he spoke of the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.
In the radicalization of the current discussion of our rights as we the people, conservatives claim that Jefferson was speaking of God’s laws in a biblical sense. The truth is Jefferson and many men at the very first Congress in 1774, were followers of John Locke’s ideas of the laws of nature. In nature they believed that man had certain inalienable rights, and liberty was a paramount right.
Those men who met at the first Congress, were men who felt that their rights as Englishmen had been violated, rights that had been established from the Magna Charta and the Bill of Rights, rights that were handed down to them over the years.
If you look at the Tea Party in Boston, where the tea was dumped into the Harbor. It was not the price of the tea that they were complaining about but it was the fact that they had no say in the tax on the tea. In point of fact the tea was actually cheaper than normal.
Some wanted to petition the King regarding what they felt was a tax levied without their say so, and others wanted to stop sending goods to England after Boston Harbor was closed due to the King and Lord North punishing those rebels in Massachusetts.
These were the rights of Englishmen they were protecting not God’s laws. It is a contention not based on facts. Look at the correspondence that took place among the participants prior to the Declaration of Independence. The schism that had occurred was due to the compact between the King and the colonists being broken.
If one listens to the reasoning of John Adams the revolution had already taken place among the people who had to fend for themselves far from England, and that with the increasing influence of the lower houses of the colonial legislatures American Independence was in real life already a reality.
We also, fail to realize in the after glow of these many years since the Tax on tea that helped to precipitate the revolution that those who lived through those time included people who did not care what happened as long as they were left alone and we forget that there were loyalists who had a strong following as well. If Galloway had had his way at the first Congress we would have become a dominion of England and the loyalists like Galloway and many others argued that the colonialists had virtual rights in Parliament and that we did not therefore need actual representation.
One thing to remember in these discussions about our past, things were not as simple and clear cut as some would have you believe.
For those on the right wing they conveniently ignore the words about men being created equal and espouse the notion that what is at stake today is liberty and that liberals are about equality. These two concepts and rights are not mutually exclusive. How can you have liberty without equality? We are not talking about the idea of everyone being on the same level financially, as if anyone is advocating communism, but that is what the radical right wing reactionaries would have you think.
We are indeed, created equal, but for those who lived in America after we won our independence, citizens were not given equal rights. Voting was only for those who owned property. No women voted, you had to own property to vote.
If we are created equally we therefore should have the same rights, an equal opportunity to have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We have a Constitution that guarantees equality before the law, equal protection for all citizens.
There is no absolute liberty, we are all limited in our society by laws restricting our behavior. Our freedom is limited to the extent that when we hurt someone else, than we must pay the consequences of having violated the law. We are not angels and laws and government exist to protect ourselves against our own imperfections and mistakes.
I get the feeling that when conservatives talk about private property and liberty and argue against equality they really mean that we should have our own aristocracy, those with wealth and those who don’t have wealth. The founders fought a revolution not only against a king but against the old aristocracy that they had witnessed in England.
Those who would claim that we face liberty or tyranny, sadly mislead the American people into fearing the equality that the Declaration so eloquently spoke about. You can be free and still have equality of opportunity. Each citizen has the rights enshrined in the Declaration and formalized in our Constitution. Let no one attempt to deprive any American of our inalienable rights. The danger that we now face as a nation is that we no longer have a rule of the majority. Those who represent a minority and their insistence that we either do it their way else endanger us all by their unwillingness to compromise for the greater good.