Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy Independence Day!

From the Declaration of Independence:

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...



Generally my political rants tend towards complaining about political ideologies that I feel conflict with some of these Revolutionary concepts. Democrats who don't share my philosophical priority on liberty and the government's role in protecting it, as opposed to regulating it for our own good. Republicans who similarly fall into the same trap to institutionalize their morality regardless of whether it conflicts with an individual's inalienable protections for matters of conscience. As always there are debates about whether the religious beliefs of this founder or that was somehow relevant to Madison's repeated arguments for and codification of his desires to keep government separate from matters of conscience, religious and otherwise.

One issue that has come up repeatedly in the current political climate is a litany of appeals to Revolutionary statements and ideas that would appear to legitimize a revolution by force. Though dismissed as just talk by the more level-headed folks and denied as an actual objective of their or other major movements against the current Administration... there are far too many people out there in the ranks who openly discuss such thing as an inevitable or possible tactic. Some of the better PR schooled leaders seem to walk a fine line in what they may be tacitly condoning. Either way, this portion of the Declaration seems quite relevant to, if not wholly overlooked by, them:

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

It wasn't that long ago that many on the far left were going absolutely hysterical with their hyperbolic claims that were indistinguishable from arguments that Bush had met the Declaration's requirement that the government had become destructive to the ends of protecting liberty and self-government with no way out (remember the conspiracies that he'd use emergency powers to cancel elections?). Now many on the far-right are committing the same hysterical reliance on hyperbole being taken as fact. Neither group can admit to themselves how they're emulating each other's hysteria. They are fringes among the groups, but their riled hysterics are still exploited by both sides to demonize or use them to their electoral advantage.

But as before, elections aren't going to be canceled and policies the other side doesn't like will be up for changes or repeal as the power balances shift again. The impact on our various views of the ideal of liberty may be frustrating, but not permanent. The chips may be down, but America has endured worse and persevered. We've even hit lows so atrocious that we literally rounded up American citizens and others into camps... and we did not let that stand. Self-government did not end. The failures of the past have continued to have an opportunity to be corrected.

As with the calls for "regime change at home" during the Bush Administration, the calls for coups or a hostile takeover during the Obama Administration would be over light and transient causes... and we would all be more disposed to suffer.

So if you're angry about the government getting away with this, that or the other... even if your anger applies to both parties, it's important to remember that the mechanisms of self-government are still operational. The government derives its power from the consent of the governed. We're the boss. It's a job that requires eternal vigilance. If you want to really help renew the revolution and help bring the government closer in line to its primary function of securing the blessings of liberty... your fellow voters are who you need to convince. Otherwise your point of view will continue to be outvoted.

It's a Republic, if you can keep it.

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