As We Near the Fourth

State of the nation on or about July 4, 2012

By Arthur H. Gunther III



The president gives his address in January; we the people take stock , our collective birthday, though most of us cannot trace American roots back to then.

So what is the State of the Nation as we near July 4, 2012? There are the scary negatives: Colorado fires, power outages in and around Washington, D.C., extreme heat across the country; unemployment; foreclosures; special interests that lobby not for the people; banks sitting on investment capital; Afghanistan and an extended, overworked military; and a deficit that if we had that amount for cash might wipe cancer out and provide college or post-high school training for all.

The positives: freedom, despite an overreach of rules and regulations since 9/11; Horatio Alger opportunity still works, though as always, with some sweat and luck; front-porch values there for the application; freedom of speech, press, religion, petition and assembly; freedom from want, freedom from fear; 236 years of group and personal sacrifice through war, slavery, the immigrant experience; birth of cities and suburbs and our rural land and their endurance; the ballot box opportunity, the better leaders among us and government when it works; and acceptance of the Churchill dictum: “… Democracy is the worst form of government except all others that have been tried.”

So, as we soon gather to have our July Fourth rest, picnics, fireworks and fun, we see the balance in this land still tipped in favor of what democracy, however imperfect, can do, has done, will do.

On Jan. 6, 1941, in an address to Congress, President Franklin D. Roosevelt told us: “Since the beginning of our American history, we have been engaged in change -- in a perpetual peaceful revolution -- a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly adjusting itself to changing conditions -- without the concentration camp or the quick-lime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.This nation has placed its destiny in the hands and heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women; and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God. Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights or keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose. To that high concept there can be no end save victory.”

A better statement of this USA there is not.

Happy Fourth!

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Mike July 05, 2012 at 05:53 PM
When was the last time you read the Declaration of Independence (if you have ever done so)? This time of year is always good to take a look. After reading it, you will see that we have moved very, very far away from what the FFs had in mind when they created this nation. This is not an Obama, Bush, Tea party, Dem or Rep issue. We the people have allowed our freedoms to be slowly taken away; we have allowed our system of government to become corrupted; we have allowed the minority to impose their will on the majority; we have relinquished our sovereignty to multinational agencies like the UN; in short, we have failed to follow the dreams and aspirations our forefathers had for this land. Yet, despite all of this, we are still the shining example of what freedom can be. IMO, we need to go back to the Declaration and remember our founding principals before it is too late. http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html
eatingdogfood July 05, 2012 at 05:56 PM
All wrong. Please try again.
eatingdogfood July 05, 2012 at 06:04 PM
It is already too late. SCOTUS is corrupt, so what is left if they refuse to uphold the constitution.
Issy July 05, 2012 at 07:59 PM
The Declaration of Independence is a historic document and has no bearing on the United States and never has. The United States started with the US Constitution, any document prior to its signing is not relevant to the laws and founding principles of this nation
Anti Dentite July 05, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Issy really must be treasured. "The Declaration of Independence is a historic document and has no bearing on the United States and never has." Somebody has raised the stupid bar. Let's go people, you're gonna have to dig deep to top this. We're dealing with a well versed intellectual here, a studied, studied historian. And people wonder why this country's a mess?
RivertownsMark July 05, 2012 at 08:34 PM
I re-read it on the Fourth and was struck, actually, by exactly what it does say. The only reference to rights is "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.", but that's it. The rest really is exactly what it sounds like - a declaration of independence from England. More than 60% of the document is an elucidation of all the wrongs the British have inflicted on us. And then a declaration that the colonies are declaring independence from the throne. That's it. You want more, you need to go to the Constitiution, but you won't find much about rights there. Since that wasn't good enough,the first ten amendments (bill of rights), addres rights. So it really wasn't until 16 years after the Declaration that we talked much about rights.
Walt July 05, 2012 at 08:38 PM
The original CBO estimate was way off, by their own admission. Read it and weep. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/03/14/cbo-health-law-estimate-shows-much-higher-spending-beyond-first-10-years/
RivertownsMark July 05, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Ross - Thank you for the civil response. I disagree with your assessments, but at least you're playing in a world where facts matter to you. Clinton's surpluses happened in 98-99-2000. For all the budget-balancing rhetoric out of Republicans, we haven't had a balanced budget from Republican presidents since Nixon. In fact, they continue to march lockstep on supply-side economics (long discredited) where tax-slashing somehow is supposed to yield higher revenues. Hasn't yet, though doesn't stop them from believing it and digging us deeper. As for the philisophical assessment of Obama, I disagree you nailed it quite right. He believes everyone should have a good chance - never going to be equal. And characterizing redistribution from taking from successful and giving to less successful assumes that money measures success, and that those who are rich all earned it in some way. How about those who have benefited most pay their fair share?
Mike July 05, 2012 at 08:53 PM
You cannot be any further from the truth. The Declaration is the "blueprint" or the "mission statement" for the Nation. It is the statement of why we exist and what we believe in. The Constitution, obviously an important document as well, is more the SOP for protecting the Rights that are established by the Declaration. The Consitution cannot stand alone or apart from the Declaration. However, the Declaration can and actually has stood apart from the Constitution. In fact, it existed for over 11 years before the Constitution was written. It also existed for 5 years prior to the precursor of the Constitution, the Articles of Confederation. To say that the Declaration has never had any bearing on the US is just ludicrous. Unfortunately, however, I think your sentiments are held by many today, especially our so called leaders, which is why we as a Nation are perilously close to the destruction of the magnificent beliefs nd ideas elucidated by our Founding Fathers in the Declaration of independence, one of the most important documents ever written by men.
Walt July 05, 2012 at 08:59 PM
"....no bearing on the United States and never has." Classic, just classic. Never debate an idiot, they simply drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.
Mike July 05, 2012 at 09:20 PM
@rivertwnsmark-as i indicated to Issy, don't know if your statement should cause laughter or tears, but unfortunately probably represents what most of America knows about the Declaration. There is simply not enough space and there are many much better explanations as to the importance, uniqueness, and impact this one document has had in the history of mankind than I could provide. (google will provide it all to you). Sure the document announces our separation and grievances from England, but these are only after establishing why we can even do it. The main point which you either glossed over or are ignoring and what is so relevant today is that our rights - all of them come from God and all law is subject to Him. Government exists because of God and we have the right to form such governments when they act in contravention to " laws of nature and Of Nature's God" . When a government as in the case of the British monarchy subvert the rights endowed to them by God, that government is no longer legitimate and it is the right, actually, the duty of the people, to form a new government. Btw, the rights specifically spelled out, "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness" pretty much cover all subsequent and other specific rights.
Issy July 05, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Wow! what meaningless and viscous attacks, no constructive argument just mindless name calling, How sad. It seems that a few do not know what the Declaration even is, it is the thirteen colonial States declaring their independence. It took the Constitution to actually create the United States and establish it rules, but the Declaration has no bearing on how this country is organised or run.
Issy July 05, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Nice try, this is just a back handed way to try and get god into the United States. Sorry but the Supreme Court has shot this one down many times. Separation of Church and State is the law of the land. Please keep your god, but keep him to yourself, the United States is a secular nation not a religious theocracy.
BG7 July 05, 2012 at 09:40 PM
The Declaration really does have basically nothing to do with how laws are interpreted, and more importantly, upheld or found unconsuititional in the US. It is of course a very important document. But not for what people here are citing it for. If the Declaration was considered in that way, the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness, especially between "consenting adults" and illicit drug users for example, would find huge numbers of laws on the books inconsistent with the Declaration.
BG7 July 05, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Wait a minute - you're suggesting the Declaration can be interpreted as supporting treason against a democratically elected US Government?
Mike July 05, 2012 at 10:03 PM
ok so you repeated what you already said before and if you still are wrong. Really.....the Constitution "created" the United States. It's just not worth it Issy. Have a good day
BG7 July 05, 2012 at 10:05 PM
In the Declaration the King, of course, is called out as being insufferable because of, amonstt other things his refusal to "Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good" and also "obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners", ho ho, as well as "refusing to pass others [laws] to encourage their migrations" to the various States. So basically he was the kind of no-good self-involved chap who'd strike down a public health law and ban immigration eh? Glad we got rid of that tyrant.
Mike July 05, 2012 at 10:05 PM
No, because if you read it correctly, you would know that the rights are subject to the laws of natures and nature's God.
BG7 July 05, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Yes, no doubt you've lived in countries, like I have, where elections are actually bought. Poor sap that I am.
BG7 July 05, 2012 at 10:09 PM
I see. So what does god say about marijuana exactly. He's ok with alcohol right. Your god of course, not the Declaree's god.
BG7 July 05, 2012 at 10:13 PM
But what about if they volitionally reduced themselves, without the external actor. As in the present case. Doesn't seem to provide any rights under such circumstances.
Mike July 05, 2012 at 10:14 PM
@BG7- read the darn thing! It's not treasonous just as throwing off the King of England was not considered treason by the framers. Again the first two paragraphs are the key. The Declaration says all power comes from God- we follow the laws of nature and the laws of God. The people have ll their rights because they are God given and not given by any person nor government. The people can form a government and all it's powers come from the people . If ( Jefferson actually expected governments to fail ) the government abuses it's power through subversion of the laws of nature or laws of God, then it loses it power. Period. That's what the framers said. As I said, most citizens as illustrated by several comments here already either don't understand or worse, don't believe this anymore. That is the fundamental issue.
BG7 July 05, 2012 at 10:20 PM
Yes, counterrevolutionaries will try to interpret first principles in their favor. Thats the danger of writing such a document. Thats why it has to be superceded. And, as we have already established, the Declaration has little legal bearing. The supreme law of the land is the Constitution. Removal of the US government by anything other than democratic means is treason. End.
zen July 05, 2012 at 10:33 PM
Ross Revira July 05, 2012 at 10:35 PM
Rivertown, during President Reagan's presidency income tax revenue almost doubled in eight years. He dropped the top tax bracket from 70% to 28% and reduced the rate of growth of government spending from 4% of GDP under President Carter to 2.5%. I think all people and political parties want people to pay their "fair " share but what is the definition of fair? Politicians have the same problem with "middle class".
zen July 05, 2012 at 11:17 PM
CBO on health care reform http://cbo.gov/publication/43080
Mike July 05, 2012 at 11:51 PM
@BG7- Whoa, so the Declaration is a dangerous document used by evil counter revolutionaries. So then no less than President Lincoln was a traitor. Since in the greatest speech ever given by a POTUS or for that matter any other American, he essentially declared the Declaration to be superior to the Constitution in terms of our national identity in the Gettysburg Adress. At the time when the very survivability of The Union was at question, Lincoln went back not to the Constitution but to the Declaration. In fact, some have claimed he acted outside the Constitution in his Great Emanipation Proclamation. But how did he he support it- through the Declaration. The Constitution was crafted after the Articles of Confederation failed to essentially preserve the goals and visions of the Nation- to in fact preserve the Union. The point is by giving primacy to the Constitution you are allowing your rights to be Subjugated to a government and rights don't come from government. They come from God. And maybe that is why you fear the Declaration.
Mary July 06, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Here's a quick breakdown of Obama's track record... http://www.dailypaul.com/235727/a-breakdown-of-obamas-track-record That's just for starters...
Ed C July 09, 2012 at 02:42 PM
There's no question that Obama has weakened civil liberties in this country in a number of ways. One need not be a Romney support to see this. Glenn Greenwald, a constitutional lawyer (like Obama), has written extensively on this on Salon.com. Here's one of his many pieces: http://www.salon.com/2012/02/08/repulsive_progressive_hypocrisy/ See also: http://www.salon.com/2012/04/20/obamas_dismal_civil_liberties_record/singleton/
Ed C July 09, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Ed C 10:42 am on Monday, July 9, 2012 There's no question that Obama has weakened civil liberties in this country in a number of ways. One need not be a Romney supporter to see this. Glenn Greenwald, a constitutional lawyer (like Obama), has written extensively on this on Salon.com. Here's one of his many pieces: http://www.salon.com/2012/02/08/repulsive_progressive_hypocrisy/ See also: http://www.salon.com/2012/04/20/obamas_dismal_civil_liberties_record/singleton/


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