A Civil Assessment

It is called ‘The Declaration of Independence’ for a reason

By , Communities Digital News

IMAGE: TJ O'Hara
IMAGE: TJ O'Hara

RANCHO SANTA FE, Ca., July 4, 2014 – While small town parades, backyard barbecues and fireworks displays may be what many people associate with the 4th of July, Independence Day deserves far greater respect. Fifty-six men signed a single piece of parchment on this day in 1776 that contained 1338 words that changed the history of the world for the better. That hallowed document claimed independence not only for a Nation but for a People. Unfortunately, 238 years later, we are in danger of surrendering to the temptation of dependence.

Our Founding Fathers were quite different from us. Some people like to mock them for the hypocrisy of their ways (i.e., “They were just a bunch of rich, old, racist white guys who said ‘all men are created equal’ but owned slaves”). Try to ignore the irony that such criticism itself has ageist, racist overtones and displays a relatively benighted sense of historical context (given that the Founding Fathers were not all rich or old nor did they all own slaves or support such conduct).

These men had the courage to stand up to the greatest military power on the face of the Earth to establish even the possibility of the individual independence we now enjoy. The depth of their commitment can be seen in the final sentence of the Declaration of Independence: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

In their case, the “pledge” of their “Lives” and “Fortunes” was not rhetorical. They were, in fact, risking their “Lives” and their “Fortunes” against enormous odds. Other than those who have served our Nation in armed combat, who else among us can even come close to making that claim?

“The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen States of America,” in effect, brought a 27-count indictment against King George, III. It specifically stated how the King had:

  • Precluded the colonies from administering an effective form of self-governance;
  • Interfered with the establishment of a fair judicial system;
  • Acted independently to create or delay legislation that negatively impacted the colonies;
  • Failed to protect the borders in a manner that left the colonies subject to invasions that could result in the loss of life and property;
  • Obstructed justice;
  • Manipulated the judiciary;
  • Created a “Multitude of new Offices… to harrass (sic) our People;”
  • “Kept… Standing Armies, without the consent of our Legislatures;”
  • Quartered troops among the citizens and protected them from prosecution;
  • Interfered with world trade;
  • Imposed taxes without consent;
  • Denied the benefit of “Trial by Jury;”
  • Etc.

Note how many of these offenses were specifically addressed within the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. You may also draw your own contemporary conclusions as to how far our Nation has come since overthrowing the despotic leadership of King George, III. Just try not to be too cynical.

Beyond pronouncing that we were “Absolved of all Allegiance to the British Crown,” the Declaration of Independence also provided a framework within its Preamble for establishment of individual rights, the role of Government, and our responsibilities as citizens. To wit:


READ ALSO: The 4th of July and the Declaration of Independence


“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 (sic) 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. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States…”

Yet today, we still struggle with these concepts. While we may ostensibly “hold these Truths to be self-evident,” our actions often belie our words.

Are “all Men created equal”? Yes, but they are most certainly not treated that way.

We continue to categorize people based upon their discernible physical differences and overt beliefs. Rather than diffusing the practice, our political Parties exploit it. They foster fear, envy, anger and greed among groups based on sex, race, religion, economic status, sexual orientation, etc. in an effort to create more controllable demographics that can be targeted and counted upon to deliver money and votes. King George would be proud!

Correspondingly, many Americans have abandoned their political independence in favor of identifying themselves as a member of one of the major Parties. In turn, they conform to their Party’s position on the vast majority of issues and vote relatively straight Party tickets without giving either much thought.

If you have been following this practice, take a moment to reflect upon how well that has been working. What great strides has your Party made toward its core agenda in the years you’ve been surrendering your vote to it? Try to avoid blaming the opposition for your Party’s lack of success. It’s no more accurate than when they blame their Party’s failure on your Party.

Moving on: Among the “unalienable Rights” that are mentioned in the Declaration, only one is qualified: “Happiness.” We are not guaranteed “Happiness.” We are only guaranteed the right to pursue it.

Those who would like the Government to guarantee at least some modicum of “Happiness” (or success) need to recognize that, in return for assuming that responsibility, the Government would have to be vested with the authority to define “Happiness.” Only then can Government guarantee it.

However, that would allow Government to exercise choices on our behalf like what we can own, what fuels we can use, what light bulbs we can buy, and even what type of health care insurance we must have.

If that were to happen, we’d be at risk of having a Government that might even extend our individual rights to entities that are little more than a legal fiction created to help organize society; entities like corporations and unions. Soon, those groups could be in a position to exploit their economic power to manipulate their members’ votes to unjustly influence the very foundation of our Nation. Thank goodness the Founding Fathers protected us by establishing our individual sovereignty.

Correspondingly, they succinctly described the role of Government in a way that had never been done before: “That to secure these (unalienable) Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.” Thus, our Government’s role is not to create, deny or limit Rights but rather to “secure” them.

More importantly, our Government’s “just Powers” exist only with our consent. We have the power. There is no King; there is no ruling elite. Otherwise, we might expect our President to act unilaterally when the mood strikes him, our Legislative Branch to exempt itself from the rules that apply to us, and our Judiciary to legislate from the bench based upon personal beliefs and biases rather than a strict construction of the law. Again, thank goodness the Founding Fathers protected us by establishing our individual sovereignty.

The Preamble even explains what our responsibility is if those in office ever try to usurp our individual sovereignty: “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 (sic) their Safety and Happiness.”

This responsibility need not be exercised impulsively nor achieved through force. In fact, the Founding Fathers went to great length to explain that “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.” The first and best step is to independently become well advised on the issues and candidates and affect change by casting an informed vote devoid of any Party influence.

The Founding Fathers instructed us that major reform is only required “…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.”

While it may be fashionable to advance ideas such as socialism and the redistribution of wealth or to throw around terms like treason and impeachment, in most instances it is only done for the political purposes of inflaming the emotions of a constituency (particularly during an election year). The Founding Fathers advised us to take a more tempered approach.

The Government’s role is clearly limited by that other document, the Constitution. Under Article I, Section 8, its responsibility is to “provide for the common Defence (sic) and general welfare of the United States” beyond its fundamental responsibility to secure our Rights (as suggested by the Declaration). We will not fall prey to the temptation of becoming dependent upon the Government to solve our problems. Otherwise, we might expect to see an expansion of both Government and spending; actions taken to attract the favor of special interest groups as opposed to serve the best interests of the general population of the United States.


READ ALSO: This Fourth of July, be afraid for the American Dream


The symptoms of such a systemic failure would be obvious: A push for higher taxes to cover increased cost and rising debt; a growing gap between the rich and the poor with an ever-shrinking middle class; increased levels of poverty, illiteracy and the need for public assistance; and even a radical increase in the cost of running for public office as the money involved would create a political environment more akin to an auction than an election.

Luckily, the Founding Fathers graced us with independence, and we would be beyond foolish to relinquish it.

  • We have the independence to ignore the self-serving rants of others and instead respect and celebrate each other’s similarities and differences.
  • We have the independence to pursue our own definition of “Happiness” and embrace the concept of a meritocracy over mediocrity. If this approach ever fails, we will no longer be faced with a problem of immigration because our standard of living and the potential that surrounds it will no longer distinguish us from the rest of the world.
  • We have the independence to exercise our best judgment when it comes to our representation as opposed to being forced to capitulate to choosing between “the lesser of two evils.”
  • And we have the independence to reform Government (or those within it) if “repeated Injuries and Usurpations” create “the Necessity… to alter their… Systems of Government.”

In the meantime, enjoy the parade, eat a hot dog, and cheer for the fireworks. A bunch of rich, old, white guys did the heavy lifting in the past and never even expected a “Thank you.” Have a Happy Independence Day this Fourth of July.

*****

A Civil Assessment has been designed to serve as an Op-Ed forum for you. You are invited to offer your opinion and to discuss your position in the Comment Section. Please be sure that your “assessments” remain “civil” so that they may earn the respect of others.

*****

TJ O’Hara provides nonpartisan political commentary every Tuesday on The Daily Ledger, one of One America News Network’s featured shows (check local cable listings for the channel in your area or watch online at 8:00 PM and Midnight PM Eastern / 5:00 and 9:00 PM Pacific. His segment appears about 35 minutes into the program.



This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities Digital News, LLC. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

TJ OHara

T.J. O'Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States. Along the way, he earned the first Presidential endorsement of the Whig Party since the 1850s, his website was archived by the Library of Congress for its historic significance, and he won the first on-line “virtual” Presidential election (conducted by We Want You) by a commanding 72.1% and 72.7% over Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, respectively. His column explores our Nation’s most pressing issues, challenges conventional thinking, and provides an open forum for civil discussion. Learn more about TJ at his website and connect with him on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter (@tjohara2012). To order his books, go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords or Sony Reader.

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  • Tony Binca

    Too bad it was all for nothing as we celebrate 4th of July with NSA spying on everyone, “free speech zones,” “sobriety checkpoints,” a government who forces us to buy health insurance, tells us vitamins are bad for us and GMO’S are good, has offshored all of our manufacturing and is mired in preemptive and aggressive wars of conquest of the countries that have the natural resources the US government covets and which bombs countries who do not have private central banks (like the Federal Reserve) that create money at interest to loan to government and citizens to keep them mired in debt forever when the government could be issuing money debt-free as the Constitution demands. Those are just a few things that would cause the Founders to turn over in their graves if they knew what we’ve become. Enjoy your barbecue and get ready to spend next week and the rest of your lives as debt slaves in the emerging police state. Unless of course you’ve had enough and want to dump this failed government and start over. The Founders provided the way to do this in that little document we seem to have forgotten called the Declaration of Independence.

    • Al Leotti

      I share your feelings with much sadness. I struggle every day to do my best to make others aware of failing state. Most of the people that I reach or have a small idea of what is happening seem to have given in and given up any hope. My only hope is our government will go too far too fast and push the American people and we all stand at once to put things back in order! This election is one of the most important in our history. We need a complete reset in all 3 branches and the press needs to get back to work and start reporting the truth!

    • masteredq

      You gentlemen have covered the subject well, there are many of us and only a few of them. Although they have the leadership, we have the Constitution. Time will tell, God Bless America.

  • TheThingsThatShouldNotBe

    We have a few generations of indoctrinated sheep minded people out there. Our minds have been conditioned to believe we’re free, to believe that THIS is freedom and, the really sad part, we seem to believe it. Most of us just stand around like a deer in the head lights and watch as our nation and constitution are eviscerated right before our very eyes. Those generations of people that I refer to are not only white and black America. It’s also Asian America, East Indian America, Arab America and so many of them did not grow up in America. Nothing against any of those races at all, but, they didn’t grow up with American history, American ideals, or the Constitution of the Republic of the United States of America. They don’t have our values in most cases, but, they still want to be free like any of the rest of us. So you got generations of Americans that grew up elsewhere, saw bad people with guns do bad things and come here with those views. Those people VOTE!!! Remember America, it was the gun that was used to give this nation it’s freedom. Try telling that to the Asian American, Arab American or East Indian American family down the street….they just won’t/don’t get it. That is just 1 example of how we’re evolving (or should I say metastasizing) into the current police state where the Constitution just doesn’t matter to the supposed ‘authorities’ any more.

  • Boudreau May

    Staying focused ! There is nothing that will make you feel more American than being an informed voter. If you have been paying attention valerie jarrett and her minions have not only been covering up scandals but creating them. it’s what she does with her round the clock meetings with obama even n the family sleeping quarters to the teleprompter. She is the queen of Distraction,Diversion,Distortion,Demeaning and Destroying. This our Founders warned us against to watch for the “Enemy Within” and it’s in full bloom. Everything about America these people hate and the only thing that is holding them back to a degree is our “Constitution”and they are constantly testing the waters of ignoring it and our laws and other than complaints no one or body only seem to let it fester ! Our Military we took an “Oath” to defend Our Nation and “Domestic” was part of it…where are they ? This administration has been stripping our Military of all of our seasoned Top Brass and now have started dipping into our lower Brass and NCO’s opting to form a civilian Military type presents with apparel and vehicles. Your local Police have been getting a slow taste of working with the UN if the need be. Young officers they know are very impressionable easily influenced because of a lack of critical ability but are eager to look the part. All of this needs to be looked at and discussed and that’s is where Our Nation needs a “Constitutional Revolution”not just our schools but for everyone ! With the influx an arrival or entry of large numbers of people or things especially of those who want,wish or tries to change what Our Country was founded on we should have no Tolerance and remind such we will send them back where they came from ! Enforce Our Laws and start being Americans the Exceptional Nation she can return to taking care of ours first and let the rest of the world know if you play by the rules we are always at the ready to lend a hand to those who demonstrate they are willing to be a civilized people ! When we go to War losing is not an option ! Rules of engagement are to eliminate the enemy and those who harbor them period. Lets get to work and take back America that God has Blessed US with ! Wishing Everyone a Blessed Independence Day and God Bless America !

  • Jonathan Strackman

    Thank you TJ for this connection from our founding fathers to modern day. And thank you for helping to defend the honor of our founding fathers, as I do in my classes. It seems to be fashion nowadays to bash the founders as “out of touch”, “rich guys”, “slaveowners”, and so on. Typically those comments are pushed by those either with an agenda or an overall lack of historical knowledge.

    Take someone who didn’t sign the declaration, George Washington. He didn’t sign it because he was too busy leading the Continental Army. But believe me, he agreed with what was in it. Anyway, George was one of the richest men in the American colonies. He, of all people, could’ve remained loyal to the British and lived the rest of his life in luxury in Virginia. But he RISKED it all. Not for wealth or power (he risked all of that)…but for an idea. FREEDOM!

    Those who aren’t well versed in revolutionary era history ought to research Washington’s stopping of a rebellion at Newburgh, New York at the end of the war. His officers, angry about lack of pay and supplies, almost threw everything away. Washington stopped it by reminding them we fought this for a reason, and let’s not throw it all away. People forget, Washington was also offered the opportunity to become King of the United States. He rejected it. Doesn’t sound like he was just a rich, power hungry guy, does it?

  • Sally Morris

    I Love America and I pledge my life, my fortune and my Sacred Honor to her defense. God Bless the thousands and thousands of patriots who have sacrificed, many with their very lives to defend the liberties founded in our constitution. I will never give up. I will never stop fighting. God Bless America and please grant her citizens a new perspective and courage to defend her.

  • David Nelson

    Brilliant! A Masterpiece! I have reached similar conclusions, in every respect — but could not have expressed them as beautifully. Well done, sir!!!!

  • Eric N Keya Erickson

    Another excellent article, although it is very hard to keep from being too cynical, as you suggest. I have frequent debates with friends about the role of government and civic responsibility, and especially about the danger of surrendering not only their vote, but also their intellectual capacity to a party. A friend recently posted on Facebook that she believed a photo ID should be required to vote, but not to purchase a firearm, because owning a gun is protected by the Constitution. I quickly pointed out that both voting and gun ownership were protected by the Constitution, and that by her logic, a photo ID should be required by both. The “debate” quickly devolved into party talking points being deconstructed by logic, until she declared that logic was meaningless unless she believed in the premise the logic was based on. In other words, if her party doesn’t agree with logic, then she refuses to use logic. This happens with friends from both parties. As sad as this is, I would say that the vast majority of people I come in contact with could care less. They generally identify with a party, and vote for that party, but they have no clue what is going on. This ignorant complacency is far more dangerous, in my mind.

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