I’m not someone who typically watches the debates leading up to the Democratic primary. In fact, I generally have a hard time focusing on any of the debates until the Presidential contest is down to the final two candidates. I will admit however, as embarrassing as it is, that I could not stop watching the first round of debates held this last week in Florida. It wasn’t the intellectual depth and eloquence of speech that kept me from looking away, since neither of these were present, but the spectacle of having so many people, all presumably citizens of this country, fighting to distance themselves from the ideals that have made this country what it is. For two nights we saw ten people pander to the most anti-freedom, big government groups among us. It was hard to look away. Just like those times I have gotten caught up watching a reality show, I hated myself for watching but just had to see how it would end. Sadly, it never really did.
Ironically, this spectacle took place the week before our nation will celebrate its Independence. I know that in a world moving as fast as ours it’s easy to forget what Independence Day represents, but I have always taken comfort in my belief that at our core as Americans we really do value freedom. That even though we sometimes behave badly, we hold dear the qualities and characteristics of liberty celebrated every July 4th. I know that It doesn’t always look like we understand, but I tell myself that when pushed by those who want to oppress us, we will always push back. And then I watch as a room full of Presidential candidates unashamedly outline plans to remove our individual liberties as an audience applauds! We really have forgotten what the upcoming American holiday represents.
Our American Independence Day is not only a day off with family and friends when we eat, play and do our best not light our homes on fire with mostly illegal fireworks. This is the day set aside each year for us to celebrate the rejection of tyranny and love of freedom. This is the day when we remember that a group of mostly English citizens became so outraged with the governments control over their lives that they formed a NEW government. A day when we acknowledge that the cost of this new government and the generations of liberty that have followed were both purchased and secured by the blood of our fellow citizens who would rather die than be told how to live. Independence Day is about Independence: Self-government, Self-rule and the ability to pursue our own individual without the need to bow to a political body.
The government serves a very important function in our country and I am certainly not advocating for anarchy. Our government does not exist, however, to CONTROL us but rather to PROTECT our right of self-government! But here we are. Instead of those asking to be given the job of Chief Executive talking about how they will preserve individual liberty they are screaming over each other to lay out a plan to REMOVE liberty placing American citizens further under the weight of a powerful central government. I wonder what our founders would have thought if they had the opportunity to watch the debates. I imagine they too would not have been able to look away-overwhelmed by the words of political tyranny they so clearly rejected.
I am not sure how the next several months of presidential campaigning will unfold though I am confident it will be entertaining. Like a bad accident we will be unable to look away hoping that no one will be seriously injured. What I know for sure is this: As we celebrate another Independence Day, we need to not only celebrate what is and what has been but celebrate the future of a country that values liberty! We do not need to remember freedom as though we are standing at the graveside of a loved one, but motivated to preserve and protect that freedom for generations yet to enjoy it for themselves. We need to do for others what the founders did for us: reject the belief that politicians have the right to tell us what to think, how to worship and the path that we must follow in the pursuit of our own happiness. We need to celebrate not only what has been, but all that is possible if we will pursue the path of liberty.
On this Independence Day let us collectively give thanks for those who have gone before us and re-commit ourselves to the ideals that have made this the greatest nation on earth. Let us continue to give hope and direction to oppressed peoples everywhere as we hold high the torch of liberty. Let us celebrate the past and determine that we will preserve the ideals of freedom for the future.