On July 4, 1776, John Hancock was the only signer of the Declaration of Independence. The rest affixed their names on August 2. For most, the pledge of their, "lives, fortunes and sacred honor." would mean catastrophic loss and, for some, the ultimate price.
Our Founders sorrowfully parted with England after years of debate. The intractable King George III and Lord North would not listen to the wise words of Edmund Burke and others in Parliament who called for compromise in 1774 and 1775.
The American Revolution was radical - in a very conservative sort of way!
The Founders thought long and hard about independence and when they did declare it, they argued that it was England's violation of her own legacy of political freedom and representation that prompted the Revolution.
John Adams, later our second President, quipped that the Colonies were one-third for revolution, one-third against and one-third indifferent. Historical research confirms that a majority of free citizens supported the cause of freedom, while large numbers could not break their Loyalist ties, including Ben Franklin's son, William.
In today's confusion and ignorance, it will surprise many that the colonists were fighting for LESS government interference in trade and an economy unshackled by the 18th century equivalent to centralized socialism, which was mercantilism.
Our Founders believed in God-given natural rights and that the role of government was to protect these rights, not bestow them! For nearly seven years, war raged in various spots and with the help of Dutch and French money and naval support, Washington secured victory. The Treaty of Paris in 1783 brought independence and official recognition of the USA. The War of 1812 briefly raised British hopes of re-conquest (or at least humbling their former colonies), but the Treaty of Ghent in 1815 secured our liberty and ended British interference in North America.
Since these early days, America has been the greatest experiment in self-correcting liberty in world history. The failure to deal with slavery in the 1780s ultimately brought a Civil War. The great Civil Rights Movement finally aligned our land with the highest principles of her Founders. Reformers, animated by our Declaration and Constitution, have helped Americans confront injustices everywhere, from voting rights to labor laws to criminal law. There is much to be proud of as we celebrate the Fourth of July this year.
But there are ominous signs that the sacrifice of two centuries is about to be squandered by the subversive ideologues now in power and pulling the purse strings.
Whether it is the completely unconstitutional interference in the marketplace, the radical favoritism of the current Hate Crimes Bill or the President sanctifying June as a special month for GLBT practitioners, we are faced with our greatest crisis of identity in our history.
Our Founders understood that freedom rested upon a virtuous citizenry and that virtue flowed from timeless moral and religious principles that were not subject to legislation. The Founders specifically forbade any religious test and the first sixteen words of the First Amendment affirm non-interference an all matters of religion.
When we survey the situation on July 4, 2009, we see an inversion of all our Founder's values. Government takeover of companies and industries and federal favoritism of chosen lifestyles marks a new, terrifying chapter in our descent into the abyss of totalitarianism. "Cap and Trade" is another manifestation of this willful ignorance of our basic principles.
Attorney General Comrade Eric Holder specifically notes that neither military personnel nor Christian clergy would be protected by the current Hate Crimes Bill. He notes that the Bill's purpose is to redress historic crimes against particular groups, but he could not cite a single instance where a victim of a hate crime did not receive justice in the courts. In other words, if an Iman, Rabbi or Minister speaks out against homosexual behavior and they are assaulted by a radical activist, this is not a hate crime. However, if a member of these religious groups assault a GLBT person, it is a hate crime! Equal Protection is gone forever and the Era of Special Preferences begins.
Let me state unequivocally that any crime against any person, regardless of class, ethnicity, gender, gender preference or religion must be prosecuted fully. By the same token, the accused must receive adequate defense counsel and a fair trial.
Even more ominous that these economic and legislative gambits are the educational agendas of the the radical activists in the Obama Administration. There are serious calls to end Mothers' and Fathers' Day and to indoctrinate on alternative lifestyles beginning in kindergarten. In fact, there are calls for "re-educating" parents who are too narrow for the Brave New World envisioned by the current elites.
I have spoken with the survivors of "re-education" camps in Cambodia and Vietnam and tortured dissidents from Cuba and Venezuela. The moment government officials start dictating the most cherished matters of conscience, morality and religion, liberty is vanquished and the American Experiment is over.
As we barbeque and enjoy fireworks, debate the issues and enjoy our liberty, let's be alert to the voice of our Founders and stop the aggrandizement of freedom in the name of "progressive" thinking.
My father is in his 80s and has lived through the Depression, WWII, and all the upheavals of the past three-quarters of a century. As we shared the other day, he mentioned five things he looks for in public officials regardless of their party. I think Dad captures well the spirit of our Founders when he says that Awe, Compassion, Courage, Integrity and Responsibility represent the foundation of public service and our nation.
My Dad and I argue much on policy and we do not agree on many areas, but here we find profound common ground - the kind discovered by Truman and Eisenhower, Teddy Roosevelt and William Jennings Bryan, and even Abraham Lincoln and Unionist Democrat Andrew Johnson. Adams and Jefferson reconciled in their dotage and spent years forging points of unity to preserve the uniqueness of America.
I pray we can capture that same spirit before it is too late.