July 4, 2009

How do you view Independence Day? Do you see it as a day to celebrate the independence of 18th century American colonists from the King of England? Or do you see it as a day to celebrate the independence of the individual from a controlling and unjust government? Is July 4 primarily about American history–or about individual rights?

To me, it’s definitely the latter. Yet if I’m right, there’s little to celebrate. Yes, we still enjoy freedom of speech, thought and very important political freedoms in this country. I won’t make light of these. I won’t pretend there’s no difference between living in the United States and, say, China–or Iran, or North Korea. But as I watch our government slowly strip the individual of nearly all of his economic rights–to keep what’s his, and not to punish his success–I cannot help but wonder: How long until political rights take a hit? If the vast majority of voting Americans believe that the government may do whatever it pleases in the name of “economic security and stability”–even when its policies plainly lead to just the opposite–then what other rationalizations will a majority of my fellow Americans soon permit of our phony, deceitful politicians?

You can’t have totalitarian rule in one arena and total freedom in another. The government that feels entitled to your wealth and your body–as in the nationalization of health care, and the nationalization of energy production (“cap and trade”)–will sooner, rather than later, feel just as entitled to choose how many children you have, what books or web sites you read, or with whom you choose to associate. I will celebrate Independence Day today–but only warily. If and when a majority of Americans come to understand that our current government is operating on the very same premises as the King of England all those years ago, we’ll have something much more important to celebrate.