Independence Day is a conservative holiday

Much has been made of the recently released Harvard University study that revealed the celebration of the 4th of July holiday was a boon to Republican Party membership, while doing nothing to stimulate interest in the Democrats.

While sure to stir the self-righteous anger of many on the left, I observed something this 4th of July that makes the reason for this study's results self-evident: Independence Day is a holiday for conservatives, not liberals.  Now, before my Democrat friends lose all control of their bodily functions, let me explain my point.

There are many self-described progressives I know who enjoyed the family cookout, the parades, the fireworks and music associated with the 4th.  They dusted off an American flag and hung it from their porch for a day, and some even popped in a DVD of Independence Day to watch Bill Pullman and Will Smith save the world from alien invaders.  But while this 24 hour surge of patriotic fervor was nice to see from those who find flag-waving too nationalistic and xenophobic the other 364 days of the year, I can't help but note that what they were actually doing was celebrating the pageantry of the day, not its principles.  That's a meaningful distinction.

It's the same reality witnessed during holiday seasons like Christmas and Easter.  Those who reject the divinity of Christ still celebrate the season with chocolate bunnies, decorative egg hunts, gift-giving rituals and even festive music.  But they fail to appreciate the underlying significance of what is being commemorated.

So set aside the trappings of the 4th of July and consider the underpinnings of the document that day honors.  When you do, you'll see why I say it's a holiday for conservatives and not liberals.  The values espoused in the American Declaration of Independence, while still cherished and revered by the former, are scorned and trampled by the latter:

To which the laws of Nature and Nature's God entitle them.

The Declaration's claim that there is a transcendent Moral Authority that exists beyond the realm of mortal man, who has established natural, moral laws that man must obey, is still embraced by the right.  Such a concept, however, is now seen as theocratic and arcane by the enlightened left.

We hold these truths to be self-evident.

Self-evident meaning they are true whether you like them, want them, appreciate them, or approve of them.  Contrast this concept with the modern left's relativistic vision of self-determined truth and you find a wide chasm separating the two.

They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.

Our Founders taught that the rights of man were based on a higher law given by God himself.  That is what made those rights "unalienable."  If government gave man his rights, our Founders reasoned that nothing prevented that government from removing those rights at its pleasure.  Today, as the modern left wars against the existence and sovereignty of God in public life, they facilitate the very destruction of those unalienable rights that our Founders initiated a revolution to protect.

That among these are life.

While the Declaration teaches, and the right still believes, that every human life is inviolable because it bears the image of its Creator, the left has ushered in a culture of death that measures the value of human life not for what it is, but for what it can do for society.  If it's unproductive, unwanted, or inconvenient, it can be legally destroyed.  So much for unalienable.

That among these are...liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Our Founders wisely understood that no central planning agency could manipulate people into happiness.  They reasoned that the happiest, and therefore most productive society, would be one where men were free to self-govern and use their unique gifts and passions to pursue whatever happiness was for them.  They were so convinced of this eternal truth that the majority of their grievances against the King referred to his repeated violations of personal autonomy and individual liberty.  It's not too difficult to imagine how the men who rebelled against "swarms of officers" who were "harassing our people" and "taxing us without consent" would feel about the modern left's bloated federal government seeking to increase an already high tax burden in order to fund new central programs that tell people how to live.

Firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.

The least religious of all the Founding Fathers, Ben Franklin, observed that, "God governs in the affairs of men," and that the survival of our republic depended upon His providential aid and assistance.  While conservative governors like Rick Perry echo those sentiments, the left sues them.

So while it's nice that American liberals take time once a year to celebrate the pageantry of our nation's Independence Day, we'd be a lot better off as a country if they'd join us conservatives in also celebrating its meaning year around.

Peter is a public high school government teacher and radio talk show host in central Indiana. Email, visit, or like him on Facebook.