Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Independence Day

While it is fashionable among many commentators to bemoan the fact that the United States is not the same nation it was 240 years ago, it's also silly and short-sighted.  No, America is not the same was it was in 1789. Neither was it the same in 1865, 1913, 1938, or 1964.

Because of changes in population (both quantity and quality), technology, religion, and even language, there is not a single nation in the world that is the same as it was two centuries ago. Most of them do not even have the same borders. Those pining for some sort of social and political stasis wish for what never has been.

Still, we are much less free than our fathers were, no?  When Obama throws Joe Wilson in jail for saying "You lie" publicly, we will have just as limited a government as did the Americans of 1798, when Vermont congressman Matthew Lyon was jailed for four months for criticizing President Adams under the Sedition Act. When the state legislature of California puts a bounty on the head of Phyllis Schlaffly for being anti-abortion in the same way the Georgia legislature did on William Lloyd Garrison for being anti-slavery, we will have just as much liberty of conscience as those of 1837. When citizens are forced by law to assist private "government" agents in rounding up anyone they point the finger at - even if it's obvious those people are being railroaded - we will be just as free as the men of 1850.  Yes, we pay for far more government than our fathers did, but the government they paid for was just as dismissive of the rights of life, liberty, and property as is the current one.  And even moreso in many specific instances.

Independence Day celebrates our independence from the British - we were Brexit long before Brexit was cool. And there's never a bad day to celebrate liberty. It, like the Rights of Englishmen, is an ideal to which we should always and everywhere aspire. But if a man wants to complain on Independence Day that he is not free to do completely as he wishes, then he is pining for something that never was and likely never will be.  The best he can probably do is to move to a place where no one will bother him all that much. There are probably 2 million square miles in America where this is possible*.

Still, a liberty-loving man lives free despite the rules that surround him, while others live as slaves even in Utopia.  Freedom cannot be granted a man. Either he takes it for himself, or he lives without it.  And not just on the Fourth of July.

* If you are within hailing distance of ten million people, you are not in one of those places.


  1. I really thought about writing this sort of thing at another number of sites, but I'm not sure they get it, or it goes against their narrative. As much as I like to, and do, complain... I'll accept your punchline. Eat drink and be... *cough* make merry. For tomorrow we may have to spend for the rights. Well, any day is a good day to die, for the right reasons... or better live for them if possible. Yeah, I'm Doom, but claim also the title War. War, if bloody, nasty, heartbreaking, and hard is born of hope. Death isn't the goal. Anyway...