In a couple of weeks we will be observing the quintessential American holiday — our Independence Day. From coast to coast, people will celebrate with their usual vigor the greatness that are these United States. Sadly, much of that patriotism will not be based on true Americanism. Instead, for a majority of our citizens, the vision of what America has been, is, and will be is but a mutation of what our nation is supposed to represent.
In its simplest terms July 4 celebrates the independence that our Founding Fathers achieved from the British in 1776. But it’s much deeper than that. When they cut ties with the motherland, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and the other signers of the Declaration of Independence were also cutting ties with — then and for the future — onerous forms of government. They were founding a nation, perchance a heaven on Earth, based on the basic yet so magnificent premise 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."
The Founding Fathers believed that we as individuals were just as independent from control and oversight as our embryonic nation was from the grip of Great Britain. Our singular destinies were based in self-determination and we — not the government — were to decide how we lived our lives. That new form of self-rule that they devised at the time (which was so eloquently defined by the Constitution 11 years later) ensured that the federal government was an object of and by the people (not the other way around) and was there only to provide for an environment that guaranteed the protection of our natural rights and ensured that no one, not even the government itself, could infringe upon those rights and prevent anyone from pursuing his life’s dreams.
The times have changed, however. Many of the same Americans who will celebrate our formative document and its philosophies have willingly decided to abandon those tenets. They clamor for a form of government that our nation won its freedom from. Slowly but surely, even subconsciously, they have declared their dependence.
They want a ruling body that will do more than create and execute the rule of law. They want and need a ruling body that will provide for their everyday comforts — from income to food to housing to health care to retirement. They want a federal government that, in defiance of the Declaration of Independence, will not allow the pursuit of Happiness but will instead outright issue Happiness, or at least a sickeningly limited version of it, while snuffing out the Happiness of those souls from whom it pilfers its resources.
Looking at what our citizens have come to expect over the years -- and what they are now demanding amidst the throes of the economy’s struggle to regain its footing -- it’s obvious that the majority don’t value independence anymore. On July 4 they should lock their doors and stay away from any and all of the festivities. Celebrating as they would otherwise would be but a display of total hypocrisy.
If they truly believed in what the day stands for, they should demand that the government get out of the business of providing a cradle-to-grave existence and, instead, put an end to the taxes and freedoms it extracts from productive sectors of the economy and the free nature of good people in an effort to make functional its corrupt – and, yes, totally un-American -- system of social and corporate entitlements, alleged security and the resultant bastardization of freedom. Ending the federal government’s destructive actions and getting back to our roots would allow every one of us to pursue our own version of Happiness….the very thing that America and independence are all about.
Bob Confer is a Gasport resident and vice president of Confer Plastics Inc. in North Tonawanda. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column originally ran in the 18 June 2012 Greater Niagara Newspapers