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AFF Sentinel Vol 20#31-Reflections on July 4, 2023

“…that among (these) rights, are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Source: Steve Dittmer | AFF Sentinel

Colorado Springs, CO

Sent to subscribers 07/01/2023

Independence Day has long been a catalyst for us to read and reflect on the documents and the men that created a fuse for the American Revolution (the Declaration of Independence) and later a framework (the Constitution) for governing the country they founded.

From our vantage point, some 247 years later, we tend to think of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in one vein. But in 1776, there was no Constitution, just a document eloquently outlining a collection of colonies’ grievances against the greatest military and economic power of its day and the resolve to create their own country.

England, after all, was the home of the Magna Carta, a Parliamentary Bill of Rights in 1689 and other triumphs of English Common Law. When Voltaire fled France for London, he found a country of people for whom liberty was a way of life.

“Freeborn Britons knew liberty when they saw its enemy, the monarchical despotism and religious obscurantism of `Popery,’ [as they saw it], exemplified by France” (“Of `Life,’ `Liberty’ and `Happiness,’ Wall Street Journal, 07/2-3/23). But the American rebels were freer than their British contemporaries and thought taxation a harbinger of “Arbitrary government.” Thus came their belief in an antidote -- a new social contract, presumably a written one.

Some of that context outlines the kind of free thinking, bold, hardheaded, confident people the American colonists were.

Without the Declaration, without the tremendous effort of leaders, soldiers and determined citizens -- and many believe, the blessings of the Almighty -- there would never have been a Constitution. Just as the Declaration was a document unlike anything before, a written Constitution was groundbreaking. To this day, England has no written constitution. The proclamation that was the Declaration of Independence followed 11 years later with the Constitution including a Bill of Rights, has never been equaled. It created what is the world’s oldest democratic republic.

There is an angle to our Founding Fathers that at least one author has explored that throws an interesting light on their vision for the future. Rather than just the visionary statesmen they’re often thought of from history books, the Founders included many businessmen and farmers who knew the value of a healthy economy, for growth. Dig deeper and one can find debates among them as to how the federal government could foster economic development, Frank Bourgin wrote. He analyzed state and federal creative uses of government power to foster economic and political development in the early decades of the country.

“…during the early era of our national government, the governmental policies leaned in an affirmative direction, positive and active rather than negative and passive, which followed later,” (“The Great Challenge: The Myth of Laissez-Faire in the Early Republic,” 1989).

So would not an interesting study be chronicling the shift to the national government turning to negative and active?

While the last couple years have been trying for Americans of a conservative bent -- devoted to the Constitution; to law and order; to the concept of a government created to protect the rights of its citizens equally; for opportunities not guarantees; to provide the individual liberty and group freedom that are our rights -- the celebration of our Declaration of Independence provides a time for reflection. We have survived as a country for 247 years. As the oldest democratic republic country in existence, that tells the world something about the principles, the understanding of human nature and the forethought of checks and balances that our Founding Fathers left us in our Constitution.

The revelations of subterfuge, skullduggery and stupidity of our elected and unelected government servants has been disheartening the last couple years. And apparently, there are more revelations to come. Yet, the very fact that they are being revealed, that perhaps even what Rush Limbaugh termed the “uninformed” may soon catch on, is encouraging to us now and a testament to the resilience and continual refinement of our system.

Young people sometimes ask why we should be governed by a Constitution over 200 years old, written by people not of our time. We hold that -- despite our scientific, artistic, economic and cultural progress -- intrinsic human nature itself has not changed much in the most recent 5,000 years. Our Founding Fathers did a fabulous job of distilling the best governing ideas from that 5,000 years of history into the framework of a country that recognized and protected our God-given rights, provided opportunity for work and economic effort to grow our lives and the country.

And, it all started with an eloquent and brash Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776. Aren’t we the lucky ones?

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