Freedom, self determination, and the end of allegiance to an unaccountable government: 228 years ago this week a handful of radical American colonists set forth their demands in the Declaration of Independence. They sought independence not only from English rule, but also from the feudal notion of obedience to King and Crown. Their views were not shared even by a majority of their fellow colonists, nor could they hope to match England's naval and military power - but their courage was undeniable.
A bloody conflict ensued, and the new Americans emerged victorious. But still we celebrate Independence Day as the birth of our nation, rather than the day the Constitution was ratified. We celebrate the day our forefathers boldly proclaimed to the world that liberty was their goal, that the pursuit of individual freedom was paramount. Those who signed the Declaration of Independence envisioned a nation based on the rule of law and the right of individuals to live their lives free from oppression. To a degree perhaps unimaginable to that band of radical idealists, their vision has come to pass over these two centuries.
That vision has been challenged throughout our history, however. The 19th century held slavery. The 20th century held the rise of socialism and its sister, fascism. But rather than focus on where we have failed, we should stay focused on the ideal of freedom. The freedom we enjoy today is the direct result of the commitment of men and women who refused to compromise their ideals. Certainly they failed at times, but they understood that the goal was liberty. Today our government and society seem to have lost sight of this goal.
For more than six months of every year the average American toils not for his family, for his needs, or for his future. No, for the first six months of the year the average American works to pay the cost of federal, state and local taxes and regulations. From New Year's Day until about the 4th of July, you work to pay for government. This is unconscionable. Our founding fathers, no doubt, would be embarrassed at our squandering of their vision. After all, they revolted at a comparable tax rate in the single digits or less. And yet we willingly suffer an effective tax rate of 50 percent, and much more in many cases. The tyranny of the Crown has been replaced by the tyranny of the federal government in Washington.
We are not slaves, but many feel they are indentured servants to government And by and large it has happened with our willing consent. We have knowingly compromised our sacred liberty for temporary promises of security or false prosperity. But it does not have to be so. We can reclaim our independence not with guns, but with our voices. We can reject creeping statism and encourage the blessings of liberty for our land. It will require work, it will require commitment, and it will require a willingness to stand firm for our beliefs. But that is a small price to pay compared to the sacrifices made by those who founded America.
Liberty, freedom, and self-determination. Those goals are as worthy of our attention today as they were 228 years ago in a hot convention hall in Philadelphia. Just as devotion to those goals brought forth this great nation then, a renewed adherence to liberty can save our nation today. Our founding fathers felt freedom was worth their "lives, fortunes, and sacred honor."