I read a statistic in the Sacramento Bee that said that 71% of Americans feel the signers of the Declaration of Independence would be disappointed with where we are today. So I thought maybe we ought to read the Declaration of Independence and see how we are stacking up. Now the first part (When in the Course of human events … ) of the Declaration is basically setting up why they are writing this thing. The part that basically lays out what we stand for then follows:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that 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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. …
The rest of the document is justifying the separation from the British government and a listing of the individual grievences that justify our breaking away.
So we have two things to consider in the passage above. First, has government become destructive of these ends? No we still have our liberty although the nutcases, even though they still have their vote and the government, all three branches, are working as the Founders designed, think they have been denied their liberty because they just don’t like the outcomes. So I would have to say, no, we don’t have proper justification to dissolve the political bands due to a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism. No, we voted those nincompoops in and they are following the rules.
For the second part, are we living up to making sure that all men are treated equal and that their inalienable Rights, Life, Liberty, and the pursit of Happiness is being sustained? Well on this one we have a mixed bag. We finally got the black thing right after the Civil War, but even today blacks are still fighting discrimination almost everywhere. But it is fair to say most of us are working on it. The women got the vote in 1920, but sad to say they are still fighting a battle for equal pay for equal work and to control their own bodies.
On the plus side, gays are now equal under the law sort of. They can marry except in state’s where they foolishly think their religious freedom trumps the law, but that is an insurrection, not the failure of government (on the federal level). The other problem is that in many states they can be fired for being gay which again seems totally out of line with the Declaration. The Feds could fix that, but Republicans will claim state’s rights (to discriminate) like they did during the segregation years. But we are progressing, so for most of the country a thumbs up.
For the life thing, a mix bag also. Thirtyfour states have abandoned the death penalty, but the Supremes decided that an unknown drug who may have unknown affects on the body, and having a case where an inmate work up while they were using the drug, is not cruel and unusual. They also decided that with out a cost/benefit analysis we can dump toxic gases into the atmosphere to kill people more slowly. So I would say we have a way to go on this one. Also there are still people in America who do not have access to healthcare and until we have a single payer system that says everyone deserves healthcare, we get a D-.
Now where we really fall down is in the Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness (L&P). thing How much L&P can you have when you can’t afford an advanced education, or if you get one, you are in debt up to your eyeballs? How much L&P can you have when the economy is rigged so when it works, a very few people make all the money? How much L&P can you have when our infrastruction is falling apart around us?
How much L&P can you have when executives make over 300 times what the average employee does? How much L&P can you have when you ignore science and data that tells us the planet is heating and there will be dire impacts to our economic and national security, and we deny it? How much L&P can you have when all the stuff listed in the above paragraphs is mostly due to Republican obstructionism?
So I would have to say as a system, it still works. Some of the outcomes are troubling, but that is not because the structure and framework the Founders created is flawed, but because we elect bimbos who are controlled by dollars and we do nothing. Many in the electorate live in la la land. I read in the paper today where one person claim that we are the greatest country in the world because in American you can still work hard and get ahead. Actually that is not true in that most European countries are working better than we are in social mobility and real wages are stagnating along with social mobility.
But in that comment is what is what is wrong with us today and it has nothing to do with what the Founders gave us to work with. It is what nature gave us to work with, brainpower, which most are not using and we vote for the idiots who are tying up our government and making it dysfunctional. They are called Republicans. Happy Fourth.