In this era of ‘dependence’ and ‘nanny state’ proclivities some people really need to understand the concept and context of The Declaration of Independence. It is a loud vocal affirmation of each human’s undeniable individuality and freedom.
People need to fully understand that anything the government can ‘give’ to you: #1 came from you, or more likely somebody else it genuinely belonged to … #2 once accepted from the government the government then controls you under the threat of ‘taking away’ what they ‘gave’ you, and worse fining or even jailing you … #3 It’s all about centralized control, just as it was in colonial days. We went from forced “loyal subjects” of a king to “We The People” in charge of our representative governing … and now to willfully and lazily surrendering to an out of control centralized career-based government so far detached from us that it believes “We” are its ignorant and helpless subjects and political pawns who “choose wrong” and are to be forced into ‘loyalty’ and subjugation.
Leadership in this republic has fallen so very far away from that of the Founders. They designed and designated an approachable governing with the consent of the governed. The system they set in place after our victory in the Revolutionary War, and the establishment of a new and completely inclusive government the likes of which human history had never seen, was painstakingly crafted to look into every angle and word to be precise in their intentions and their message to future generations who would look to their writing of our Founding documents. They had an inkling that there would be those ahead who would attempt to twist and manipulate the meaning and intent. But they had no idea just how the mutilation of their foundation would be.
Kevin D. Williamson @ NRO: General Washington’s Standard
‘Does not, then, the Almighty clearly impress an awe of the persons and authority of Kings upon the minds of their subjects, hereby proving Government of Divine origin?” So asked the Reverend J. R. Walsh in a pamphlet printed in 1829. “For, otherwise, by what principle could any one mortal command subjection from so many millions of fellow creatures”?
That was a question very much upon the mind of King George IV, whose coronation provided the inspiration for the Reverend Walsh’s essay: That king’s father, George III, had been treated with a notable lack of awe by his American subjects, who gave him the shoe and set up their own republic, without any king at all. This experiment in awelessness, all the smart people of the late 18th century assured one another, was doomed to failure: Awelessness was next to lawlessness, they believed, and a people without a king to tell them how to behave or a king’s church to tell them why to behave were doomed to anarchy.
Here’s to 240 years of glorious anarchy.
The American Founders did not contemplate a world without awe of government, but they did intuit that a free, self-governing, democratic republic could get by with a good deal less of it. George Washington famously rejected an offer to make him king and thought that calling the president “Your Excellency” might be a bit much, too. We hear a great deal now about the “dignity of the office” and the need to have “respect for the presidency,” if not for the president himself, but nobody ever really says why. Why should we be awed at the chief bureaucrat of the federal administrative apparatus? Why should we hold in awe our employee? “Only I can fix” is Donald Trump’s illiterate shorthand for the idea that presidents are, like kings, products of divine election. George Washington never said anything like that; he didn’t need to convince anybody that he was the man for the job, and he knew that the job was governing, not ruling.
There is something in us, something ugly and atavistic, that loves a king. Some unhappy people — and they are legion — long for a strong man before whom they can abase themselves, and thereby be relieved of the stress and terror of being responsible for their own lives. Unhappy with the state of your personal finances? Let the Great Father take care of it for you. Burke would have recognized what was going on right now in American politics. He argued that the American colonists had legitimate grievances but that those were married to a “dangerous spirit of disquisition, not in the coolness of philosophic inquiry, but inflamed with all the passions of a haughty, resentful people, who thought themselves deeply injured, and that they were contending for everything that was valuable in the world.”
It is pleasing and strange that on this Independence Day weekend we Americans are thinking in a special way about our British cousins, who, all these years after their damned stupid tea taxes and quartering troops in our houses, have gotten around to declaring their own independence, not from the Crown (which is now only a kind of Easter bonnet) but from the European Union, which began as a trading bloc and metastasized into another version of the cracked dream of a unitary European state, this one headquartered in Brussels rather than in Paris or Berlin. The European Union has all the usual trappings of awe: a banner, an anthem (from Beethoven’s Ninth), titles, etc. The great political genius of Nigel Farage and his hectoring, insulting EU speeches was his simple refusal to be awed by the European authorities…
We’ve done pretty well without an overabundance of awe: saved the world from awe-addled Germans — twice — and then went to the moon just to show that we could. Some Rotarians a few years back got together for lunch and decided that what they should do with their spare time is wipe out polio: They’re pretty close. We still have too much awe of the state for my taste, but nobody’s perfect.
When he was named president of the Constitutional Convention, George Washington didn’t set his sights on inspiring awe or on any exercise in political and philosophical grandiosity intended to “command subjection,” in the Reverend Walsh’s words, but instead suggested a much more modest target: “Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair.”
Rich Lowry @ NRO: 1776 Was Amexit
Patriot Post: Independence Day 2016