Tuesday, July 03, 2007

What Would the Signers Think?

Today we celebrate the Signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Suppose America's Founding Fathers came back to the present day. Do you think the Founding Fathers would generally be pleased about the way America has turned out, or would they be disappointed?

That's a poll question from CBS News, posted by The Club For Growth.

Certainly the Founders would be impressed with our technology ("invention" might be the word they would use). No chopping wood to heat the house, unimaginably good health care, the ability to travel to the capitol in minutes rather than days in our own car, and global trade that puts 10,000 hygienically-packaged items on the shelves of our store, which the working class can purchase with real wages which have grown staggeringly high since the Declaration of Independence was signed 231 years ago.

But consider two obvious facts: (1) our taxes are 10-20 times higher than theirs were; (2) George III wouldn't have dreamed of spending tax revenues on the projects George W has orchestrated.

Some polls have suggested that many Americans don't know why we celebrate the 4th of July. Many believe we commemorate the freeing of the slaves. Most just don't care: fire up the Bar-B-Que, strike up the band, light the fireworks! Who cares why we party, let's just party!

So the results of the CBS poll are actually encouraging. Americans think the Founders would be:

Pleased - 20%
Disappointed - 72%
Mixed - 3%
Unsure - 5%

I'd like to think that the 20% are thinking about our technology, not our government. I'd like to think that the 72% are thinking about our government, not our technology. I myself am confident the Founders would be appalled, outraged, or inconsolably despondent. They risked "our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor" for -- democracy? the "Administrative State?" The "Unitary Executive?" "Freedom from religion?"

I believe they risked their lives to defend "Liberty Under God." Instead we have what they would recognize (and perhaps we don't) as an atheistic tyranny.

They did risk a lot, too. Dr. Benjamin Rush wrote to John Adams, “Do you recollect the pensive and awful silence which pervaded the House when we were called up, one after another, to the table of the President of Congress to subscribe to what was believed by many at that time to be our death warrants?”

The more I read from the Founders' pens, I have to ask myself, "What am I risking?" Modern technology saves me several hours a day compared to the Founders; what do I do with my time? Watch American Idol?

The Founders' government is dead meat. Virtually no politician or bureaucrat pays any attention to the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. There's no doubt in my mind that the Founders would be disappointed in the government. Would they also be disappointed in me?

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