Exercising your rights

“… to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.”

Liberty Bell, Independence Hall

Liberty Bell, Independence Hall

If only we could separate ourselves from the political powers that be.  They seem to have lost touch with us, or perhaps by not being an active part of the process, we have lost touch with them.  Oh yes, we see them all too often in political ads and very brief news clips, but do we really know them?  Are they serving our nation, our states, our cities well?  Are they only serving the causes of the rich benefactors that helped put them in power?  Do they refuse to comply with their appointed duties and to act under laws “the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.”  For if it is not the public good for which they serve, then they are not serving at all.  When it comes to the duties of having fiscal responsibility and reaching across the aisle for compromise, many have “utterly neglected to attend to them.”  While pork barrel projects can get tacked on to public bills and items that benefit one another can find agreement, some in turn “refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People.”  Where is service for the common good?  Do some of our politicians have a notion of “common good”, or is their idea of good being anything that opposes the other party?

“…That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed…”

Perhaps many of the millionaires who pretend to represent the “little people” have forgotten that they owe their power to the consent of the people, or at least they should owe it.  We give our consent when we vote.  That is exercising our rights.  We also give our consent when we do not vote.  By withholding our voice, we consent to letting others decide who is in power, who sets policy and who spends our many tax dollars.  We can not accuse our politicians of “imposing Taxes on us without our Consent” if we fail to make any effort to give consent in the first place.  We should throw off the politicians who are not spending our money wisely or serving the public welfare.

“… it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.”

If collectively we are dissatisfied with the state of the union and the lawmakers who have failed to enact a budget and brought us to the brink of the fiscal cliff while campaigning for themselves, then it is not just our right, but our duty to step forward and elect those who will do a better job.  While we consider our slim choices, we must recognize we will continue to get more of the same if we keep sending back the same legislators to maintain the same stalemates, except perhaps when it comes to their own benefits.  With the monumental disappointments of the current group of clowns, and  “their Acts of pretended Legislation” it must be our patriotic duty to consider what is at stake in the next election and endeavor to “institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”  For their will be little happiness if we continue down the road of perpetual impasse.

“…with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

There was a time when America was not so polarized into extremes.  Great causes saw us come together to provide solutions, even when the tasks were monumental.  A land so severely divided with its king that its pledge to stand together for independence brought forth a land of determination.  Even divided against itself in civil war, it found a way to heal.  The calling of World Wars meant the mobilization of the nation to see the fight to the finish.  A devastating economic crash found a people ready to be put back to work and in turn built some of the greatest construction projects in our history.  Roads, dams, power plants, national parks, and countless projects saw legislators reach across the aisle.  Although vilified by some opponents, one president was returned to office four times to heal a nation and guide it through rough economic times, then through war across the globe.  Where is that great spirit?  It is time for a landslide of votes.  I am not talking in favor of any candidate.  This is about a turn out so tremendous in size, that politicians will understand everyone wants action.  Everyone is watching.  Everyone is willing to turn out and vote and that may just mean turning the rascals out of office.  We must pledge “our sacred honor” to vote!

“We, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES…”

Wikimedia  commons

Declaration of Independence

If you did not already know, all the parts in italics above are quotes from the Action of the Second Continental Congress.  That is, of course, The Declaration of Independence.  Perhaps you did not know that Independence was actually declared on July 2nd, 1776.  The Continental Congress approved the final text on July 4th.  It was not actually signed until August 2nd, despite the wonderful scene in the play and the movie, 1776.  It may have been mostly the work of Thomas Jefferson, but it was a 5 member committee that wrote the Declaration (See, Congress can work together!)  One of the members of the committee, Robert Livingston, never signed it.  Committee members John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on the 50th anniversary of the vote, July 4th 1826.  They had an infamous falling out, but historical letters indicate they reconciled through their final correspondence.  Roger Sherman and Benjamin Franklin were the other committee members.  Franklin was the oldest signer of the document.  He was 70 at the time.  Finally, historians doubt that anyone actually rang the “Liberty Bell.”


3 thoughts on “Exercising your rights

  1. The dates were a matter of argument even in 1776. John Adams wanted July 2, the others wanted the 4th (and got it). Without electronic media, everyone didn’t get the news at the same time. A lot of people consider August 9th, when the printed version was distributed, the appropriate date. Information moved at a human rate. A lot of dates — probably most of the older ones — are more speculation than a certainty. I’m not sure dates are all that important anyhow.

    If you haven’t read David McCullough’s “John Adams,” you should. It’s really good. You’d like it.


    • It is interesting you mention that, someone gave me a copy of John Adams. I saw David McCullough on Charlie Rose last week. It was actually excerpts from various interviews about the founding of the nation. He took 10 years to write the Adams book. It was a great program to watch. Now I have to find time to read that book. Maybe it is on Harold’s reading list. 😉


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