Amer­i­cans still em­brace the spirit of ’76

The Covington News - - OPINION - SCOTT RAS­MUSSEN To find out more about Scott Ras­mussen, and read fea­tures by other Cre­ators writ­ers and car­toon­ists, visit cre­

Our na­tion’s 237th birth­day is be­ing cel­e­brated in many ways that have be­come fa­mil­iar over the years.

Fif­teen per­cent of Amer­i­cans will watch a pa­rade; 29 per­cent will sing pa­tri­otic songs; 63 per­cent will en­joy a cook­out with fam­ily and friends; 78 per­cent are likely to see fire­works.

Sixty-one per­cent con­sider In­de­pen­dence Day one of our na­tion’s most im­por­tant hol­i­days.

We cel­e­brate July 4 with the en­thu­si­asm of a loved one’s birth­day be­cause we love our coun­try.

Seventy-seven per­cent would live here even if they had the chance to live any­where else on the planet.

But de­spite our love for Amer­ica, we rec­og­nize that it’s not per­fect. Only 47 per­cent be­lieve ours is truly a land with lib­erty and jus­tice for all. Fewer than half be­lieve our eco­nomic sys­tem is fair to the mid­dle class or fair to those will­ing to work hard.

Only 34 per­cent be­lieve our sys­tem of jus­tice is fair to those who are poor.

That’s where the Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence comes in. That doc­u­ment, one of the most cher­ished and im­por­tant doc­u­ments in the his­tory of mankind, did more than found our na­tion. It de­fined our national ideals.

De­spite all the changes of the past two cen­turies, Amer­i­cans still em­brace those found­ing ideals.

Seventy-two per­cent con­tinue to be­lieve gov­ern­ments de­rive their only just au­thor­ity from the con­sent of the gov­erned.

Eighty-one per­cent be­lieve all of us were cre­ated equal.

Ninety-two per­cent be­lieve we have all been en­dowed by our Cre­ator with cer­tain in­alien­able rights, in­clud­ing life, lib­erty and the pur­suit of hap­pi­ness.

Put it all to­gether, and what the Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence pro­posed was then a rad­i­cal con­cept — self-gov­er­nance. Kings did not pos­sess a di­vine right to rule.

In­di­vid­u­als had di­vine rights, in­clud­ing the right to se­lect their rulers.

In fact, as our na­tion’s found­ing doc­u­ment de­scribed it, the whole pur­pose of a govern­ment was to pro­tect in­di­vid­ual rights.

What was rad­i­cal then is deeply em­bed­ded in the cul­tural DNA of our na­tion to­day.

We be­lieve that we have the right to make our own de­ci­sions about our own lives so long as they don’t in­fringe on the rights of oth­ers.

We use our freedom to solve prob­lems by work­ing to­gether in com­mu­ni­ties.

This at­ti­tude was de­scribed by Thomas Jef­fer­son and oth­ers as “the Spirit of ’76.”

It con­tin­ues to cre­ate prob­lems for po­lit­i­cal elites to­day be­cause 63 per­cent think there is more dan­ger with a govern­ment that is too pow­er­ful than with one that is not pow­er­ful enough.

This con­cern is am­pli­fied by the fact that most vot­ers view the govern­ment to­day as a threat to in­di­vid­ual rights rather than a pro­tec­tor of those rights.

Most Amer­i­cans also now be­lieve the fed­eral govern­ment has be­come a spe­cial in­ter­est group that looks out pri­mar­ily for its own in­ter­ests.

Only one in four vot­ers to­day thinks our govern­ment has the con­sent of the gov­erned. That’s a clear call for our govern­ment to change its ways and re-earn the trust of those it is sup­posed to serve.

Those are the kind of at­ti­tudes that make the Po­lit­i­cal Class ner­vous. The fact that we ex­pect more comes from the fact that we as a na­tion still em­brace the Spirit of ’76.

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