On this Independence Day weekend, let’s recall what made the United States exceptional from the start. It was designed as a nation of laws, not of men, built on the concepts of individual liberty and equal justice before the law, with freedoms ranging from speech to worship, and rights from gun ownership to assembly.
The Founding Fathers institutionalized these freedoms for the individual, so we would be safe from the suffocating burdens of a too-powerful state. Those freedoms would allow individuals to do as they pleased within the reasonable confines of the law and to achieve in ways big and small, the benefits of which would redound to America at large.
And yet, in several short years, President Obama and his leftist army have fundamentally shifted the balance away from the individual and toward government, and from the notion of self-reliance to an increasing reliance on government. It took Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and several other Founders a few months to draft the Declaration of Independence. It took Mr. Obama even less time to turn us into a nation of growing dependence.
In that famous founding document we celebrate this weekend, the Declaration of Independence, Mr. Jefferson cataloged a long list of abuses of the American people by the British sovereign.
Today, we could compile our own list of abuses suffered at the hands of Mr. Obama, his congressional toadies, his wingmen in the media, and his protectors at the Supreme Court. They include:
• A lawless president who routinely lies with impunity.
• An out-of-control Congress.
• A politically corrupted Supreme Court.
• An equally corrupt media.
• A long-term jobs crisis.
• The government takeover and destruction of the best health care system in the world.
• A national debt speeding toward $20 trillion.
• The political weaponization of the Internal Revenue Service.
• The endless influx of illegal aliens into America and failure to secure our borders and our sovereignty.
• A dangerous foreign policy that embraces, frees and empowers our enemies while abandoning and imperiling our friends.
• A commander in chief who is deliberately weakening American power.
• An arrogant, unresponsive elite class that is bankrupting the nation while empowering itself.
Americans will take a lot, but I always believed that they would not tolerate the abuse of their nation by the forces of a sick and discredited redistributionist ideology. I thought that they would reject it even more so if they believed their own leadership was hijacking American exceptionalism and diluting it in order to serve a global redistributionist scheme.
I now wonder if my assumptions are still correct.
The original tea party was a seminal pre-revolutionary event. It symbolized the colonists’ objections to being ruled and taxed from afar and their desire for the basic human dignity of having a voice in their own affairs. In a significant way, this was the beginning of American exceptionalism: What made these powerless subjects think they could confront the king of the most powerful empire on earth?
The courage of those early Americans came when they realized that they were not powerless at all. They discovered that their power came not from the barrel of a gun but from their unity around the idea that all men were created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these were life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
We were born in revolt. Revolt against oppression. Revolt against tyranny.
The odds were stacked hugely against us. And yet, the early Americans knew that their demands were not radical. To King George, they constituted treason. But to the patriots, and later, for the whole of humanity, they were basic rights that came not from government but from God. They believed that they were on the right side of history.
They didn’t know how it would end, but they also knew they didn’t have a choice but to fight.
Several years after the Revolutionary War and the adoption of the Constitution, Benjamin Franklin wrote, “The important ends of civil government are the personal securities of life and liberty. I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil.”
Franklin went on to say: “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters. But America is too enlightened to be enslaved.”
The question for us on this Independence Day: Are we still too enlightened to be enslaved?
• Monica Crowley is online opinion editor at The Washington Times.