It is a uniquely American holiday, this upcoming Independence Day; it is the day we commemorate the abolishment of our government.
This nation did not materialize from the vapor one day in 1776. There was nearly 200 years of colonial life, and there was government for all of that time. We did not create a new government on that Fourth of July; we just dissolved the old one.
The national holiday which commemorates our disposal of unwanted government is properly called Independence Day. It does not commemorate independence from our parents, from want, from ignorance, from addiction, or from a relationship gone sour; it is a celebration of our independence from government.
How appropriate that our Independence Day celebrations include illegal fireworks, noise violations, public overindulgence, teeth-rattling Harleys with helmetless riders, music blasting at annoying decibels, wake-roiling boat parades, broken curfews, and all manner of hoopla that is likely illegal and certainly bad for you.
That’s what liberty looks like - every conceivable form of happiness being publically pursued under one proudly waved flag. Is it so unbearable? We Libertarians would let ‘er rip the other 364 days of the year if we had our druthers. Pray, play, or work all day – whatever floats your boat.
The government that was tossed aside in 1776 did not originate the idea of self-rule; it did not confer sovereignty upon its citizens, and it did not find the truth of natural rights to be self-evident, an endowment from the Creator. That government claimed the Creator himself gave it the power to rule; it deemed itself the arbiter of goodness and the provider of the general welfare. It rejected the notion of "consent of the governed", and it considered the wealth of the people to be its own.
That government was not reformed, it was not streamlined, it was not constrained, it was not tilted to the right or left of its center - it was abolished. And it would be 13 years before the Constitution would empower another in 1789.
Who can imagine dissolving our government this July 4th and not constituting a replacement until 2023? This truly was the home of the brave….once.
They abolished the entire government, while we are afraid to abolish the Department of Education. They fought and died for their freedom, while we won’t bother to vote for ours. They sacked the entire bureaucracy, while we are afraid to limit their raises. They gave government 13 years off and we freak out over a furlough day.
What happened to us? When did we give up on ourselves? Why do we believe that we are incapable of individual sovereignty, unfit for self-rule? Who is teaching us that we are less worthy of liberty than our foreparents? Why do we listen to these people? Why do we elect them to speak for us?
The colonials were no different from us; we are separated only by time, technology and fashion. Their civic challenges – trade, security, employment, energy, education, health, charity, foreign relations, poverty, homelessness, crime, pollution, nutrition, elder care – were far more daunting than anything we face today, while their means of coping were primitive by our standards.
And after thirteen freezing winters, thirteen blazing summers, thirteen deadly influenza seasons, and thirteen years of unregulated business cycles, did they run back to government for protection? Did you run back to Mommy and Daddy’s once you moved out? Neither did they.
They created a federal government that was strictly limited, that preserved liberty to the maximum extent practical in an ordered society of peaceful citizens. Not on a whim, not on a theory, but after thirteen years of living free and facing the consequences with eyes wide open. They found the benefits of liberty so far outweighed the costs they forbid government from encroaching on it legally.
Our task is far less demanding, and we do not need to take up arms to abolish our government; our founders provided the opportunity for a revolution every two years via the ballot box - another mulligan every even-numbered year.
We have strayed far from the path of liberty. We moved back in with Mommy and Daddy and now we resent living in the basement under their rules. It is not their fault that we see them, it is ours; we need to move out and make it on our own. And we will all get along much better with Mommy and Daddy when we just stop by to visit from time to time.
It is our turn to declare our independence from government, just as our predecessors did in 1776. The clear lesson of history is that freedom and prosperity are inexorably linked, while tyranny and poverty are equally certain companions. We are known by the company we keep.
On July 4, 1776, our founders chose the former and rejected the latter. We don’t even have to find the words, we just need to repeat them: "We find these truths to be self evident….."
Each of us will be remembered for what we did, not for what we hoped to do; this November we will be remembered for either restoring our liberty and securing the prosperity of generations to come, or for failing to do so when we knew it was our last chance.
As we celebrate this Independence Day with our family and friends, let us commit ourselves to reclaiming our liberty. And with each illegal firework, let us remember what it is we are celebrating – our independence from government.
Happy Independence Day!
"Moment Of Clarity" is a weekly commentary by Libertarian writer and speaker Tim Nerenz, Ph.D. Visit Tim’s website www.timnerenz.com to find your moment.