Does democ­racy have an ex­pi­ra­tion date?

Record Observer - - Opinion -

“Con­flict is in­evitable; com­bat is op­tional,” said au­thor Max Lu­cado. It’s ap­par­ent in light of the many con­flicts across our na­tion re­cently, that our coun­try is per­haps more di­vided than ever. We fight for our own rights and be­liefs, but do not hes­i­tate to step on the toes of our brothers and sis­ters to get what we be­lieve is right­fully ours. “Our way, but not yours.” I’m not cer­tain where the line of equal­ity re­ally lies and I am no longer as con­fi­dent as I once was in our gov­ern­ment to dis­cern that truth. It makes me won­der, does democ­racy have an ex­pi­ra­tion date?

What I do know is this. Mon­day we will cel­e­brate our in­de­pen­dence. In­de­pen­dence of the colonies from a king that was mak­ing de­ci­sions for the peo­ple, but with­out con­sid­er­a­tion of the peo­ple. With­out con­sid­er­a­tion that those colonies had dif­fer­ent needs; with­out con­sid­er­a­tion that many had left to es­cape re­li­gious per­se­cu­tion, to es­tab­lish a fresh start. What worked for some did not nec­es­sar­ily work for the whole.

“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 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 shown, 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.”

While we were still colonies, 240 years ago, lead­ers were step­ping up to speak against a king who re­fused his As­sent to Laws, the most whole­some and nec­es­sary for the public good. The list of trans­gres­sions against the colonies con­tin­ued: He has for­bid­den his Gov­er­nors to pass Laws of im­me­di­ate and press­ing im­por­tance, un­less sus­pended in their op­er­a­tion till his As­sent should be ob­tained; and when so sus­pended, he has ut­terly ne­glected to at­tend to them.

He has re­fused to pass other Laws for the ac­com­mo­da­tion of large dis­tricts of peo­ple, un­less those peo­ple would re­lin­quish the right of Rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the Leg­is­la­ture, a right in­es­timable to them and for­mi­da­ble to tyrants only.

He has dis­solved Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Houses re­peat­edly, for op­pos­ing with manly firm­ness his in­va­sions on the rights of the peo­ple.

He has en­deav­ored to pre­vent the pop­u­la­tion of these States; for that pur­pose ob­struct­ing the Laws for Nat­u­ral­iza­tion of For­eign­ers; re­fus­ing to pass oth­ers to en­cour­age their mi­gra­tions hither, and rais­ing the con­di­tions of new Ap­pro­pri­a­tions of Lands.

He has ob­structed the Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Jus­tice, by re­fus­ing his As­sent to Laws for es­tab­lish­ing Ju­di­ciar y pow­ers.

He has made Judges de­pen­dent on his Will alone, for the ten­ure of their of­fices, and the amount and pay­ment of their salaries.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Stand­ing Armies with­out the Con­sent of our leg­is­la­tures.

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

He has com­bined with oth­ers to sub­ject us to a ju­ris­dic­tion for­eign to our con­sti­tu­tion, and un­ac­knowl­edged by our laws; giv­ing his As­sent to their Acts of pre­tended Leg­is­la­tion

For cut­ting off our Trade with all parts of the world

For im­pos­ing Taxes on us with­out our Con­sent

For tak­ing away our Char­ters, abol­ish­ing our most valu­able Laws, and al­ter­ing fun­da­men­tally the Forms of our Gov­ern­ments:

For sus­pend­ing our own Leg­is­la­tures, and declar­ing them­selves in­vested with power to leg­is­late for us in all cases what­so­ever.

This is an ex­cerpt from OUR Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence. I’ll ad­mit, it’s been awhile since I read it, in its en­tirety. It reads a lit­tle like a his­tory les­son, but you know what they say, his­tory does re­peat it­self.

This week­end is a fit­ting and apt time to re­flect on our na­tion and how we’ve ar­rived at this con­clu­sion. Be­lieve in what you will. Stand firm for your be­liefs. If you are will­ing to be­lieve in some­thing, you should be will­ing to back it up. But not at the ex­pense of for­get­ting that those around you have the same rights as you. “A house di­vided against it­self, can­not stand.” We have the abil­ity to act unit­edly and eq­ui­tably. Cel­e­brate. Re­flect. Re­spect. And go with grace.

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