I recently read the book 1776, and it drove home for me some things that I knew, but some times lose perspective about. I’m am proud to say that there really are some people today who understand some of these salient points, and will frequently point them out to those who have forgotten, who never knew, or who try hard to ignore it. It was no cakewalk. Despite appointing a general to command the army, despite days spent in a hot meeting hall in the sweltering Philadelphia summer, despite truly noble prose which cites failed attempts at obtaining redress from a distant and unconcerned monarch and parliament, and the tortured compromise which prevented the finished document from soaring to the highest ideal its very existence invoked in the minds of the people it spoke for, the outcome of this unprecedented endeavor was very much in doubt. As we come in to this holiday, in which we celebrate the outward trappings of our American character, I can’t help but to reflect on what lies below, and what it means for our future and the nation my children will inherit.
Not many people can stick their fingers in other people’s eyes while making valid points as my friend and co-blogger Rosetta the man-lesbian can. His parting thought on this morning’s post is a shining example of why I admire and hate him, and why so many hawt conservative babes spend their time throwing their panties at him (electronically speaking). Signing off on that “peculiar Friday institution” (with respect to our euphemistically inclined founders) he said:
I hope everyone has a fantastic fourth of July weekend. I know with the government doing its very best to bankrupt this country, addict everyone to handouts and shove its giant rubber fist up our freedom hole, it’s easy to be depressed or worried or scared. But fight the urge. Our founding fathers weren’t pussies in the face of uncertainly and danger nor should we be.
This country is the greatest ever conceived in the mind of man or God and no man, even one who thinks he is God, can bring it down. There are too many of us who cherish our freedoms and liberty and not enough of them who would trade both for a wheel of government cheese.
Our founding fathers did not back away from danger. Every man who signed the Declaration of Independence knew that signing it made them wanted men. In fact, some had to go into hiding to avoid having their neck’s stretched by the British. Washington himself had often enough unwisely exposed himself to enemy fire when rallying American troops in battle. 1776 was a year of ups and downs for the Continental Army. I can certainly see that if an undisciplined and tattered rabble such as the troops at Boston, weakened by poor hygiene, poor living conditions, and disease made up of today’s Americans were to accomplish a victory like they had over the British at Dorchester Heights, they might just assume that it was over when the British abandoned the city and sailed north. The revolution would have died an early death. Or if such a force made up of Americans today were with Washington when he was routed at Brooklyn Heights, the surrender and defeat in exchange for a meal, and whatever the occupying British didn’t take for themselves. Washington himself was not a successful commander by today’s standards, but he had the virtue of never letting adversity defeat him or make him less inspiring to his troops. This was a man upon whom a terrible burden was laid. He alone would bear the blame of an eventual defeat that would cement the colonies into the crown of the British Empire, to suffer the predations of distant leadership interested only the continued building of an Empire, or he would be the man to lead an upstart group of former colonists to the defeat of the preeminent military power of the time. To accomplish this, he had to remain a fixed point of inspiration for men who were both professional soldiers and part-time militias. He had to keep them together despite petty jealousies between colonies, and different attitudes and demeanors. He had to witness their sufferings, celebrate their triumphs, and when enlistments were up, he had to appeal to patriotic beliefs that the men themselves did not know resided within them. He endured criticism from men with greater ability, and much less charisma. He suffered betrayals from members of his staff and junior officers. He would constantly strive for a better result when his execution was wanting.
All of these men knew that their stand could get them killed. Pledging their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor wasn’t a simple recitation of a freedom incantation. They were gambling with the only thing that mattered: their lives and the lives of their families. They did not enter into this lightly. Every single one understood, and acted with the courage of their convictions. They didn’t take a poll. They didn’t hold back, so as to be able to change their tune if fortune turned and the outcome became grave. They did not throw others under the carriage when things got difficult. They did this without American Idol to distract them from what was being done in their names. They did it without cell phones and ipods. They did it without the latest hot car. They did it without school lunch programs, midnight basketball, and community organizers to take government money and illegally influence elections. They did it without Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They did it without bailout money buying its way into banks. They did it without government run healthcare, or unseen statutory “penumbras” reveling themselves to judges and litigants looking for ways to legally murder unborn children. They did it without taxes to pay for carbon credits to help solve fictitious man made influence on global warming. They did it without Keith Olberman to call someone “The worst person in the world”, and they did it with less education than your average 20 something.
Consider that this 4th of July, whether you are still able to enjoy the fruits of your labors because Lil’ Timmy and his pals haven’t gotten around to giving your money to someone else yet, or if you are a victim of the Obama economy that he can no longer blame on Bush. You are an American. You are here because you or your ancestors were not content, and wouldn’t “settle”. You are here because of the pursuit of freedom. Because you believe that your choices should be determined by you, and not the government. If you remember this, then the rest becomes easy. If you settle for what the government is willing to let you have, then you will always be limited to the barest levels; your very existence will always be defined by the lack of ambition that dimly glows in the least of us. American Exceptionalism is not some thing to be reviled. It was not an accident, and no matter what the current administration would have you believe, the government’s only meaningful contributions to American prosperity occurred when they got the Hell out the the people’s way, and let them be free, as the Constitution requires.