Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

July 3, 2006

Optimism On The Fourth Of July

by Nick

Or maybe just bloody-mindedness, who knows. Wrote this last year. Don’t think I can better it. And now (admittedly not that many) people actually read what I write. Slightly dated, the mood being heavily set by the then-recent Kelo decision. Still, much of it is more or less timeless.

A lot of conservative bloggers seem to be wearing black and mourning the death of America today. Truth be told, I was too as I went to bed last night, prepared to make a sob-filled eulogy to the dying ideal of the Land of the Free. But depression doesn’t come naturally to me…it usually transmutes itself to burning anger within a few hours. And that’s how I feel today: angry. Not just angry at the misguided people that undermine the constitution everyday in all three branches of the government. Not just angry with the idiots who shepherd them into office, chasing a dream of the European ideal…a land where they never figured out how not to be subjects. A land where what looks like milk and honey turns out to be nothing but whitewash and food coloring. But I’ve been angry with myself for getting depressed in the first place.

On this day a Call to Fight came from the colonial caucus, magnificently penned by Thomas Jefferson. 229 years later, it is still a call to fight, albeit against a far more insidious enemy. July 4th in 1776 was a challenge, to the maddened King George, and to the wave upon wave of red coats and muskets that would soon come by the boatload. On that day, our forefathers stood their ground and declared that no more would they be ruled in such an arbitrary manner, heads bowed to an authority that was scarcely their better.

Today our enemy comes from within, but, like those British soldiers, they are simply taking orders. Their orders come from their false education and indoctrination, and from their lack of introspection. Today we are called to arms, not to raise our swords upon the field of battle, but to raise our pens and our voices, to win possession not of bloody battlefields but of hearts and minds.

Heinlein, that preternaturally brilliant political commentator, remarked that a people who forget their history will have no future. And that is the very essence of the problem. We simply aren’t taught our history well enough. We learn dates, we learn places, and we learn names. But that’s the least important part of history. Way back when, it didn’t matter what day of the week or the month that Patrick Henry spoke his famous words. It doesn’t matter what the Federalist Papers were called, or even who wrote them. That Ben Franklin invented bifocals, are you serious?

The importance of our founding fathers lay in what they said and what they did. Of the lessons they imparted to posterity. Of the struggles they fought for 7 long years. Of the failure of the Articles of Confederation, and how from its ashes the Phoenix of the Constitution which arose with such glory no better governing document has been written. This is the history that’s important, and it is precisely this history that isn’t taught.

This country’s laws and institutions aren’t something to be discussed, agreed upon, and decided by Democrats and Repubicans. That was already done for us with the birth of the Constitution. Our framers were polymaths, accomplished economists, historians, and philosphers; The constitution is thus approximately as outdated as this post, possibly less. They were also some of the most paranoid and far-thinking individuals the world has ever seen. They created a document that had no need of changing with the times. A simple, profound document which gave us the basic ideals on which society should be built, and just how limited government should remain.

The Constitution should no more change with the times than the Bible, Buddha’s words, or Shakespeare. Our framers’ very intent was to create an ahistoric document. One that it doesn’t matter when you gave it a glance, the words are timeless. On the 150th anniversary of July 4th, Calvin Coolidge said as much about the Declaration (hat tip powerline ):

About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.

Not progress, reactionary. These days no Republican is untainted by assault on certain principles of our founding document, but the entire ‘progressive’ movement is a reaction against the Constitution. They are not progressive, they are regressive. They are Statist. Individual liberty is not the goal, but individual comfort. By such stuff are subjects and sheep made. Their power lies in speaking to the fears and the emotions of their minions. That is not the life I want to live, to take counsel of my fears (to quote churchill) before deciding my course of action (except insects…i’m still afraid of insects) Our message is clear, it is invincible, the only thing that remains is to speak that message. To remind people of what it means to be American, to believe in freedom, and the sacrosanct individual. To remind them that the government is our plaything, not the other way around.

The Gadsden flag is flying today in my mind and in my heart. It neatly encapsulates everything our forebears stood for on the field of battle and in the composing of our great ideological foundation. Years ago it was flown by the most belligerent of Revolutionary War soldiers. Today, it’s resurrected, flown by one of the most belligerent classical liberals I know: me. They stood there ready to die for their cause.

No one will ask that of me, or of you; we have no excuse for walking out on this fight.

The events I’ve witnessed in recent years, the debates I’ve had with fellow students, the pure filth that comes out of so many politicians made me question whether America really was better than Europe. I dont know how the country got to that point, but no more. Melancholy has given way to the much more comfortable rage. Rage I can do, rage is familiar to me. I can do it all my life and not blink an eye. And you know what? I think I will. The statists fought a war of attrition for 200 long years, but their day ends now.

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  • http://kponly.blogspot.com Ryan

    Inspiring! I like it, especially the comment about the “progressive” movement being reactionary.

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  • VRB

    If the Constitution to remained unchanged, why the ability to admend it. Your view seems extremely static. If America were to survive for another five centuries, do you think the society or enviroment will stay static? For small hunter gatherer societies, individualism would have thwarted their survival. The Bible or Buddha’s word requires faith, goverment requires the rational.

  • http://unrepentantindividual.com/ Brad Warbiany

    The Constitution doesn’t need to “change with the times”. The Constitution only needs to change when it is wrong.

    As I pointed out in my post on the Founding Fathers, they weren’t perfect, and they understood they weren’t perfect. They knew that they were creating the best Constitution they could at the time (and I would point out that there were some, like Patrick Henry, who didn’t even think we should have this Constitution at all), but understood that there might need to be changes.

    As an example, the three-fifths compromise. I think they all knew that this was wrong when they wrote it. To declare one group of people only worth three-fifths of a human when apportioning for representation is clearly wrong. The fact that it’s wrong doesn’t “change with the times”, but the Constitution had to be amended to fix that wrong.

  • http://www.indaincowboy.net/blog IndianCowboy

    thanks Brad.

    Was trying to figure out how to say it.

  • VRB

    That three fifths was generous, because at that time there were people that did not think we were at all human. That is a matter of time, because until there was enough scientific evidence to prove otherwise; there were citizens that thought we were some type of ape. I have met those people.

  • Eric

    VRB, I understand, at least intellectually. But I still think it’s true that what was created was better than what existed. More importantly, what was created set the stage for the eventual undoing of the evil done to those held in slavery. Just as important, it seems likely that without the fateful compromise an American Republic would not have been created and all of the later good it did, including the Civil War, Emancipation and the Civil Rights movement would not have come about in the fashion that they did.

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