American Elephants

Celebrating 235 Years of Freedom! Can We Keep It? by The Elephant's Child

In 1776  America’s Founders gathered in Philadelphia to draft the Declaration of Independence, which dissolved the political ties that had bound the American colonies to Great Britain.  A new nation was thus born, free and independent, the United States of America.  Eleven years later, in 1787, after American patriots had won our independence on the battlefield, many of the men who had met earlier , plus others, met there again in Philadelphia to draft a plan for governing the new nation, the Constitution of the United States. In 1789, after the plan had been ratified, the new government was established,  Together the Declaration and the Constitution  are America’s founding documents.

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute has, from time to time. offered a Civic Literacy Exam. The average score for all 2,500 Americans who took the test was 49%.  College educators scored 55%.  Surely our readers can do better than that.  You will find the Civic Literacy Exam here.

This is our 235th Birthday as a nation, and our founding documents have served us well.  The founding ideas have made America the most powerful, wealthiest and freest nation in the history of civilization. Yet Americans at this time are more anxious about the future of the country than at any time in memory. Victor Davis Hanson cited  Obama’s speech in April 2009, when the president suggested that “the U.S. as one of many nations was not necessarily any more exceptional than others.”

The administration, Hanson noted,  sought from the United Nations and the Arab League — but not from Congress — authorization to attack Libya.

There has never been any nation even remotely similar to America.  Here’s why:

Most revolutions seek to destroy the existing class order and use all-powerful government to mandate an equality of result rather than of opportunity — in the manner of the French Revolution’s slogan of “liberty, equality and fraternity” or the Russian Revolution’s “peace, land and bread.”

In contrast, our revolutionaries shouted “Don’t tread on me!” and “Give me liberty or give me death!” The Founders were convinced that constitutionally protected freedom would allow the individual to create wealth apart from government. Such enlightened self-interest would then enrich society at large far more effectively that could an all-powerful state. …

There’s no rational reason why a small republican experiment in 1776 grew to dominate global culture and society — except that this is the only nation, past or present, that trusts the individual rather than the state and its bureaucracy. Such confidence in average citizens made us absolutely exceptional — something we should remember more than ever on this Fourth of July.

Do read the whole essay.

How odd, then that Time magazine has published a cover essay entitled “One Document Under Siege” written by Richard Stengel —the managing editor— which is a remarkably shoddy piece of journalism, with a really limited understanding of the document. Over at Big Journalism, they take apart 14 clear factual errors, and want reader’s assistance in finding more.

The extent to which the Left attempts to lessen respect for our founding documents, smear the founding fathers, belittle patriotism, burn the flag, sneer at those who wear flag pins or at those who like patriotic parades is amazing to behold.

A City Councilman from Eugene (OR ) proudly stated on the radio that they had abolished the custom of opening meetings with the Pledge, so they could spend the available time on real city business — which seemed to be passing resolutions demanding that all troops in Afghanistan and Iraq be brought home promptly. Not unusual for city councils who find potholes and parking meters boring. The Seattle City Council passed a resolution demanding that the dams on the Columbia River (the other side of the mountains) be torn down, only to be greatly embarrassed when they took a field trip and found out how big the dams (and the river) were.

I’d love to see a party affiliation of the people who flunked the Civic Literacy Test linked above.

In the news this last week was a Harvard University study that essentially said that 4th of July parades are Right-Wind Propaganda. That inflicted on impressionable children is likely to turn them into Republicans, and that it does Democrat candidates no good at all to appear in a parade.

Why do we celebrate?  That handful of men who wrote and signed the Declaration of Independence could have sought power for themselves, could have established any kind of government when they wrote the Constitution — and there are abysmal examples all over the world — yet what they did was work with consummate care to restrain government and empower the citizen.  They understood the potential for tyranny, and they wanted to make sure of a free people.

That’s why the Left hates patriotism and celebration of our founding documents so much.  They want a different kind of government than the one we have.  They want to empower the government, and make the citizens dependent on government beneficence.  And they will promise goodies in return for votes to keep them in power, which goodies, experience shows — mostly don’t live up to expectations.

If you want to understand freedom, talk to an immigrant, or the child of immigrants who risked all to escape another country.  Listen to new Senator Marco Rubio. He knows what it’s all about.

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