Independence Day

Jeff Alworth

Two hundred thirty years ago today, a plucky band of rebels declared that it was time "to dissolve the political bands which ... connected" them to Great Britain. 

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved.

Despite wars (civil, world, cold), human rights abuses and struggles, market crashes, assassinations, corruption, and social unrest, the republic has managed to stand for over two centuries.  It has generally emerged the stronger for its troubles, relying on the laws and values established in the struggle for independence. 

I'm not generally pleased with the current federal government, but like most Americans (and certainly most liberals), I am proud of how our country has always rallied to the side of equality, generosity, and liberty and renewed the spirit of the founders.  On this day, I celebrate how resilient our country has been in maintaining a healthy democracy--freedom for individuals, equality for minorities--in spite of the human tendency to tyranny.

No country is perfect, but it is a (unique?) American value to think we could be--should be--and on Independence Day, I am proud to share that lofty, unattainable goal.

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...

Happy 230th, America.

  • sasha (unverified)

    What I find odd is that modern day liberals reject the very principles espoused in the Declaration: rights come from the creator and the government's job is to secure the rights.

    Modern day liberals all too often use the coercive power of government to take freedoms and rights away. Property rights, for instance. Freedom of association rights, for instance.

    In fact, it seems to me that modern day liberals misunderstand the very meaning of the word "rights." As our founding fathers understood the term, rights are things that the government cannot restrict individuals from doing.

    As modern day liberals use the term, rights are often things the goverment must provide to individuals (health care, education, etc.) Of course a government, in order to provide something to someone, must take something from someone else. Thus, such societal benefits cannot be "rights."

    Our founding fathers understood that rights are vested in the individual. Modern day liberals often think of rights as vested in groups. Another contradiction.

    For these reasons I always chuckle when liberals pretend to honor the Declaration. They reject so many of its central principles.

  • (Show?)

    Sasha - you might do well to actually re-read the Declaration. Among the complaints therein:

    He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

    For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

    For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

    He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

  • (Show?)

    Sasha, the foundation of the US Constitution is one that ensures individual liberties while protecting minority rights. Conservatives forget this when they wish to exercise their liberty at the cost of someone else's. It's a democracy, not mob rule.

    On the other hand, I do agree that the US government in its current incarnation seeks to take citizens' rights--often illegally. I expect the same plucky defense by liberals and conservatives to this seizer--whether by King George or George Bush.

  • Stella (unverified)

    Which political party has, in the past month, tried twice to amend the Constitution to limit the rights protected therein?

    Someone remind me.

  • BlueNote (unverified)

    The words "Independence" and "Creator" are seldom seen on this web site, or any other.

    Happy Independence Day. And, for those of you so inclined, thanks to our Creator (or the random order of the physical universe) for giving me the many blessings of my life.

  • sasha (unverified)

    Kari: I'm wondering what your comment has to do with any aspect of my comment.

    Jeff: You write: "Conservatives forget this when they wish to exercise their liberty at the cost of someone else's."

    Can you give an example of what you mean here?

    Tell me, let's say I want to build a house on my rural property, but Oregon's land use laws say I can't. I maintain that this is an unconstitutional restriction of my property rights. Liberals tend to support such restrictions.

    What rights of others would be restricted by building a house on my property? The "right" to not have to look at the house?

    Can you give an example?

  • Publius (unverified)

    Sasha --

    How about the property value of your neighbor's property? Many liberals I talk to are actually supportive of a one-tract-one-house rule... but let's talk about what M 37 was really for -- developers.

    Joe and Jane Smith buy a plot of land to build a house on and invest in. It's worth $500K. They think it's a solid investment because they know that Oregon's land use system will protect their property from falling values to to overdevelopment in the neighborhood.

    Suddely, Measure 37 swings in and their neighbor sells his property to a devloper who builds condos on it. Now Joe and Jane's plot is worth $400K. Suddenly, the Smiths' property (value) has been diminished without due process of law.

    So... yes, that example works both ways.

    Where it works only one way, though, is when conservatives decide that Hippie McRainbow shouldn't be allowed to burn a flag in protest. It certainly takes a right away from our hippie friend, but what rights does it protect of the conservative Senators who voted for it?

    Or what rights are protected when we say that two homosexuals can't form a recognized family unit?

    Yes, liberals and conservatives are both guilty from time to time of infringing on rights to appease a random sense of what society ought to look at, and they both do it for what they see as a greater good. The difference is that when liberals do it, that greater good is measured in tangible benefits and assistance. When conservatives do it, it's measured by how close it matches up to memories of good-ole-days gone by.

    Suffice to say, the Framers would be shocked to see the state of liberty today -- no matter which party was in power. But, perhaps they'd be smart enough to realize that sensibilities evolve over time.

  • dan j (unverified)

    Let's keep working with the property rights thread.

    Publius says,

    "It's worth 500K. They think its a solid investment...."

    Let's stop there, shall we. Do any of you liberals understand the term "investment"? No, it isn't the risk free retirement lump-sum that you collect from the PERS system.

    No, its not the trust fund you inherited to finance your Pearl condo.

    An investment implies that there is actual risk and return, not just return. Thus when, ...their neighbor sells his property to a developer who builds condos on it. Now Joe & Janes plot is worth 400K"

    If you can accept the upside of an "investment" you have to be able to take the downside. If you can't, make sure to find a nice Gov't job and just rent.

    If you want to protect yourself from unwanted development, buy into an established neighborhood that has been developed already with enforceable restrictive covenants set forth by the neighborhood assoc.

    Once again, Liberals are only for freedom if it agrees with their narrow agenda.

    No freedom of speech at a commencment if you use the word God of Jesus Christ (even though the passage Jeff quotes above refers to the "Supreme Judge" and in the next passage we see the reference to the "Creator"), no freedom for the Boy Scouts, as they are persecuted by the ACLU at every turn. No real freedom of speech, as flag buring is OK yet being openly critical of homosexual behavior is considered "hate speech" possibly prosecuted as a hate crime.

    The end result to all of this pointless debate is the final score.

    The public understands that liberals (represented by labor unions and Democrats)are repressive. This is why liberals constantly lose on ballot measures. When liberals lose, they then thwart democracy and find and activist judge to overturn the will of the people. Please, save me the speech about how judge shopping is necessary because the general voting public is just so un-informed. Losers make excuses.

  • (Show?)

    Sasha, as you well know, land use laws are sufficiently complex so that they don't fall into the one-sentence prescription you quote. But, as Publius observes, what you want to do on your land may very well have an effect on your neighbor's.

    History is full of examples of Americans exercising their rights at the sacrifice of other Americans, and sadly, this appears to be the current trend. Lawmakers, strongly influenced by the morality of their Christian conservative base, for example, wish to remove the rights of citizens (to offer just a few examples): 1) to make their own end-of-life decisions; 2) to use certain drugs paliatively; 3) to be free of religious coercion in the military, in schools, and in public spaces; 4) to freely express themselves in a even politically-charged environments.

    Finally, your first comment that "our founding fathers understood that rights are vested in the individual" is also in error. They had a rather robust debate about the individual liberty of individuals and their self-evident equality--competing imperatives reflected in the balance of the Constitution's provisions.

  • BOHICA (unverified)

    " THEIR Creator...", not THE creator or MY creator or A creator. My reading is that whatever you believe the creator to be, created these rights.

  • Dan J (unverified)


    your reading is incorrect.

    Creator is used in the singular. Thus, one Creator.

    "Supreme Judge" is also a singular term as stated "the Supreme Judge".

    Otherwise, it would have been "their creators" (plural and no capitalization) and the "supreme decision makers".

  • Publius (unverified)

    Dan J --

    So by your logic, since investment implies risk and buyers should seek out land with "enforcable restrictive covenants"

    You're against Measure 37, presumably? because all those whining landowners need to be told that investment entails risk, right?

    By and by, I grew up dirt poor. The only investments I have come from a business that I built up with my own two hands. I don't think that government ought to provide me with a guaranteed return, but when someone alters the law after I've made a purchase and my return suffers because of it, it does tend to irk me just a little bit.

  • (Show?)

    This is an amusing sentence, and I think underscores the bizarro world of government-by-propaganda:

    No, its not the trust fund you inherited to finance your Pearl condo.

    Quit drinking the Kool Aid, Dan--the wealthy are on your team. They're the ones seeking to gut the estate tax. Seriously, do you guys ever actually listen to what the hell you're saying?

    On the Creator point, it is actually an interesting one. The word Creator hints not at the secret fundamentalist Protestant beliefs of the founders that certain members of the Christian Coalition claim; rather, they were mostly deists (most famously, Jefferson and Franklin). Add the possessive "their," and I think it's hard to square this with any revision the Christian right could reasonably argue. Had the founders been wishing to fold religion into the fabric of the document, they would have used "our Creator" or "the Creator"--the assumption and assertion of the sole, true God. Rather, the emphasis there is on the innate being of the person, not the transactional authority of the Creator to select arbitrarily.

    Of course, it wouldn't matter a whit to me what the religion of the founders is: we are a country of laws, and the Constitution is pretty clear about religion's role.

  • Dan J (unverified)


    That isn't my logic. I said if investors don't want the risk of the investment, they should seek out land with........

    All investments come with risk. It may not be the risk the investor originally thought of when they made the investment, but the risk is still out there.

    I respect the fact you've built your own business and that you aren't looking for handouts. I share you concern over having the rules change after you've started to play the game.

    However, in the real world, this is exactly what happens all the time. Any investment must take into account the possibility that the return will be negative. If not, the person is entering into a dream, not an investment.

    With respect to Measure 37, it isn't black and white for me. I have a tought time deciding if I like it or not. Both sides have very strong arguements. Although my wife and I are quite conservative (not a big suprise there huh?), we voted differently on the measure.

    I detest urban sprawl, but equally dislike the Gov't deciding where all of the boundries are.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)

    Creator is used in the singular. Thus, one Creator.

    I swear conservatives were created by a committee. Its the only explanation I can find...

    As far as I can tell conservatives place restrictions on other people's freedoms quite easily, it is their own that they are highly protective of. As has been pointed out, most property "rights" arguments are over whether on persons right trumps protecting their neighbors right. Conservatives are quite happy to pass laws preventing their neighbors from playing loud music, opening a porn store, etc. But they want to be free to do what they like with their own land regardless of the impact on their neighbors.

    Finally, I think the notion that liberals do not believe in a creator and conservatives do offensive. I know many christian liberals. I know very few conservatives who believe they are here for any higher purpsoe than to make money.

    The Republican churches certainly spend a lot of time talking about other things. But when you look at what they do, it is pretty clear that whoever their creator was has long since taken a back seat to whatever new toys they want to buy. And the role of their church is to create a community of people who affirm that god wants them to have that new toy or they wouldn't be able to afford it.

  • Publius (unverified)

    Dan -- I suspect we share very similar views on this issue. The way I see it, though, it's precisely because of the concept of risk that the arguments in favor of M37 fell on my two deaf ears. I'd rather see something of a lot-of-record system in place: simple and targeted.

    At any rate, hope you had a happy 4th.

  • BOHICA (unverified)

    Dan J

    My point was on the word THEIR, not CREATOR. Their is possesive. The idea of what a creator is, is up to me.

  • Dan J (unverified)


    You are correct. We conservatives were designed by a committee. Your brilliance is once again recognized for all to see.

    The sheer force of your thoughts is utterly intimidating.

    By the way, your entire post is quite humorous. You must be a stay-at-home dad that debates his 5 year old child. Your skills are as sharp as a balloon. Nowhere do I state (or any other conservative/moderate on this comment area) or even hint that far left liberals don't believe in Jesus Christ. Can you point out where I stated or implied this?

    No, I didn't think so. Emotion is all you have to offer.

    Thanks for casting judgement on the "Republican Church", whoever and whichever ones those are. Once, again, it appears you have been ordained to decide which churches are Republican. Congratulations on your new title as religious judge.

    If you can back up anything you said with facts, please do. Otherwise, you are just a BLOWHARD.

    Please be specific. Remember, many of these "Republican" churches have a large portion of moderates and independents.

    Your comment about all the "toys" is laughable. I live on a street full of Liberals and they all drive BMWs & Audis with their boats parked in front of their house. Blowing $$ on toys is an equal opportunity endeaver Ross.

  • (Show?)

    it's really too bad they didn't call it Interdependence Day, way back when. Our independence seems to be helping to paint a bull's eye on our country. But I think our nature and the reality of life is that our country is very interdependent as are we all.

  • Danny Haszard (unverified)

    Jehovah's Witnesses and the NO flag salute.

    Kids suffer because of arbitrary rules by Jehovah's Witnesses leaders,senile old men squatting in their insulated ivory tower.

    I was born into the Jehovah's Witnesses in 1957.I was the good little JW boy who got beaten up in the school yard for not saluting the flag and remaining seated for the Star Spangled Banner as demanded by my Jehovah's Witnesses leaders.

    This was the 'better dead than red' era of the 1960's, I suffered much,only to learn that the Watchtower corporation is just another made up man-made club.

    I now proudly fly the Flag at my home. God Bless America! Danny Haszard

  • Ross Williams (unverified)

    "Nowhere do I state (or any other conservative/moderate on this comment area) or even hint that far left liberals don't believe in Jesus Christ. Can you point out where I stated or implied this?

    No, I didn't think so. Emotion is all you have to offer. "

    I did not state or imply you had and your last sentence seems to be projecting your own.

    Once, again, it appears you have been ordained to decide which churches are Republican.

    Yes, I do get to draw my own conclusions from the evidence available.

    Blowing $$ on toys is an equal opportunity endeaver Ross.

    Perhaps, but it isn't a Christian one when there are others in need.

  • Dan J (unverified)


    Perhaps, but it isn't a Christian one when there are others in need.


    This is one point that we are in complete agreement on.

    Now let's make some real progress.

    Let's worship & honor the Creator, rather than the created. This involves loving other people, not fish, spotted owls & its food chain, insects, snowy plover, etc.

    <h2>Paganism is not a Christian value.</h2>

connect with blueoregon