The Declaration of Independence is one of the most freedom-rich documents in American History. The language and meaning contained therein describe the value of freedom and provide a never-ending path for the people to demand it. The Declaration pairs well with the Preamble to the Constitution, and together they form a solid a foundation for a government that is of, for and by the people. But have we given up on this life-long endeavor for freedom and equality in the United States? Have we lulled ourselves to sleep at the wheel of democracy?

The Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

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The words explode from the parchment like fireworks on the 4th of July, and taste like warm honey on a patriot’s tongue. As far as history goes, this document is unmatched for it’s bold stand in defiance of tyranny and demand for freedom. Remarkably well suited for each other, the Preamble to the Constitution adds language that elevates the Declaration to a higher purpose for the people.

The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

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The Preamble and the Declaration clearly set the tone for an ‘America of the people’, and make a strong case for preventing unfavorable elements of oppression. Strike that–there is no case that legitimizes oppression, and the spirit of the Declaration and the Constitution set in stone freedom as the ultimate right of the people over all other interests.

In the late 1700s and early 1800s, words meant something, but it seems the ‘will of the people’ has been replaced by inattention, ‘complacency by design’ and incremental oppression has moved in to control the economy and the people. Corporate interests have usurped the spirit of the founding documents by taking advantage of loopholes and coercing our leaders and lawmakers to permit them full access to trample upon our promised way of life in the United States. In effect private interests have mangled the economic system and made it the overseeing system that controls the country.

Every year I am reminded that a great reckoning is forthcoming that could be a disaster for those that have been investing in the status quo and the ‘establishment’ that’s has benefited by the oppressive economy and policies throughout the last 40 years of corporatocracy. Or perhaps not.

Waiting for the establishment to implement far-reaching policy that benefits the people as the Preamble and the Declaration ordained is highly unlikely due to the power that corporations have in today’s Branches of the US Government. It is nevertheless important to recognize that the Declaration and Preamble still speak to the people despite the transgressions of the private economic interests that influence our leaders.

Simply put, the Declaration stands true that the people have the unalienable Right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Are we allowed to pursue happiness and liberty? There’s no evidence that this right has been upheld in American policy and practice for the last 40 years. Moreover, it is clear that ‘whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government’.

Our form of government has been usurped in favor of an economic system that bribes our ‘elected’ representatives who in turn sell out to these corporate interests without shame. Yet we have yet to alter, abolish or institute a new government because we hold out hope that we can change for the better as a whole peacefully. What catastrophe or calamity shall herald such an awakening that will spark our collective will to force change in the face of stagnancy and evermore incrementalism?

We do not have a more perfect union, nor can one argue that we have established justice in America. There is no consistent domestic tranquility, and our common defense is needlessly costing us our freedom. The promotion of our general welfare is seriously lacking with ever-diminishing returns. And to top it all off, the blessings of liberty are conditional to one’s financial status rather than one’s effort and strident citizenship. Making matters worse, the outlook is grim. Greed defines our economy and our domestic and foreign policy. Is this what our founding documents intended?

We are not really celebrating our independence from England. We celebrate the concept of collective independence. What we celebrate on the 4th of July isn’t our failure of democracy over the last half-century, but our strength of purpose. We know we can do better and we strive for it. That’s what makes America Great! It’s the people of America that makes the country great, not the government.

We celebrate the 4th of July because we know in our hearts that we may be forced to rise up again, shoulder to shoulder with our sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, to take a stand for freedom and democracy and against oppression and tyranny. We celebrate what it means to be American despite our imperfect system of government and the failures of democracy that we endure. We celebrate our resilient demand for freedom and the pursuit of Life, Liberty and Happiness for all.

Defintions

self-ev·i·dent
adjective
not needing to be demonstrated or explained; obvious.
“self-evident truths”
synonyms: obvious, clear, plain, evident, apparent, manifest, patent, axiomatic

en·dow
inˈdou,enˈdou/
verb
past tense: endowed; past participle: endowed
give or bequeath an income or property to (a person or institution).
“he endowed the church with lands”
synonyms: provide, supply, furnish, equip, invest, favor, bless, grace, gift.

un·al·ien·a·ble
ˌənˈālēənəbəl/
adjective
unable to be taken away from or given away by the possessor.
“freedom of religion, the most inalienable of all human rights”
synonyms: inviolable, absolute, sacrosanct.

pru·dence
ˈpro͞odns/Submit
noun
the quality of being prudent; cautiousness.
“we need to exercise prudence in such important matters”
synonyms: wisdom, judgment, good judgment, common sense, sense, sagacity, shrewdness, advisability.

usurpation
yoo-ser-pey-shuh n, -zer-/
noun
an act of usurping; wrongful or illegal encroachment, infringement, or seizure.

des·pot·ism
ˈdespəˌtizəm/Submit
noun
the exercise of absolute power, especially in a cruel and oppressive way.
“the King’s arbitrary despotism” a country or political system where the ruler holds absolute power.

cor·po·ra·toc·ra·cy
ˌkôrpərəˈtäkrəsē/
noun
a society or system that is governed or controlled by corporations.
“in this age of corporatocracies, the money goes not to the inventor, but to the company”

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