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July 2, 2007
Thoughts on Independence Day
In a couple of days, Independence Day will be celebrated in the US. There will be a lot of fireworks and parades and cookouts and such. There will be lots of flag waving. All good things, to be sure.
Perhaps it would be wise for us to remind ourselves just why our forefathers demanded independence. Why is it that we have an Independence Day instead of celebrating the Queen's Birthday as Australia, New Zealand and Canada (as Victoria Day)?
If I remember correctly, taxation without representation had a lot to do with it. Colonists were being taxed without any say in the matter. They lacked representatives in England; they lacked advocates for their common good. And so, in the end, they were compelled to fight for self-governance.
Today, there is a lack of confidence in the legislative and executive branches of US government. Congress actually has a lower approval rating than President Bush, and no party seems to be able to tackle any problem of consequence. Social Security, Medicare and other "entitlements", illegal immigration, health care, energy dependence - all of these problems are bypassed because they are too volatile politically to address. And there is encroachment of each-other's territory, with Congress attempting to impose Rules of Engagement on the President as Commander in Chief. Where are the answers needed of the government?
How can programs like Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid be made reasonably solvent for the long term?
What will the federal government do to protect national sovereignty and stop millions more illegal immigrants from entering the country?
How will we succeed in Iraq and prosecute the wider war against Islamo-fascism? (Or, for a more fundamental question, is there a wider war against Islamo-fascism?)
These questions either go unanswered or have opposing answers advocated by opposing groups who vehemently demand the right to be right at the exclusion of other answers. Instead of legislative steps forward US citizens get comprehensive plans and grandiose schemes which gain support seemingly only for the political points politicians can gain from giving support and not for their actual implementation.
Where's the bread-and-butter work? Has it been drowned in barrels of pork and soap-box platitudes delivered by life-long electioneers?
And what is a citizen to do on Independence Day?
Since the US is still, despite all screaming and waving to the contrary, the freest country on the face of the earth, the best way to celebrate Independence Day is to exercise the freedom and liberty that the US Constitution affords - make your voice heard. If a citizen is concerned about a specific topic, that citizen should educate himself on the subject, discuss it, figure out where he stands on it, and then he can communicate his position to the elected officials who represent him.
This seems like it should be the foundation of representative democracy, but too often we do not do our jobs - even about issues which concern us greatly - and then wonder where our representatives get their ideas, their platforms, from. We citizens must do our job to even know if our representatives are doing theirs. If we do not hold ourselves accountable, if we become the uneducated (or under-educated), emotion-ruled mob, our elected officials will remain unaccountable.
Bob Myer blogs at http://www.mindofflapjack.blogspot.com/