Happy Independence Day

The Fourth of July, Independence Day. It is the celebration of our beginning as an independent nation and as a wild experiment in creating a functioning republican democracy. Yes, despite what those who consider themselves to be of superior intelligence like to claim…we ARE a democracy. That is not eliminated by the form of our democracy. We elect representatives to act on our behalf. Every adult citizen enjoys the right to vote (minus certain very specific circumstances such as having committed a felony). Thus we are a democracy.

A number of people today are posting the Declaration of Independence on Facebook. I like that as it provides a reminder of what exactly serves as the basis for our governmental structure. Reading through the declaration reminds one that not only are the ideals of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness the overarching goals, but that the basis for the Bill of Rights can be found in the list of values that were subverted by George III. Ideas such as restricting speech, the press, and religious observances, quartering soldiers in private homes, confiscating guns from colonists, taxing goods in the colonies when there was no representation in Parliament. Remember, everybody living in the American colonies prior to the Revolution was a British citizen. As such, they had rights that the king was obligated to recognize. He did not. Had he behaved in the same manner toward those British citizens living in the United Kingdom, the result would have likely been the same. Maybe not a shooting war, but he would have probably been obliged to abdicate.

We will be celebrating quietly at home (all firework displays in Philadelphia are cancelled). But our flag is out, and we will be remembering why today is a holiday.

Happy Independence Day!

Image by Circ OD from Pixabay

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2 Replies to “Happy Independence Day”

  1. “we ARE a democracy”

    I would respectfully disagree. Not because I think I know better. (Some days I think it’s a wonder I know my own name.) But because of two things. One being the alleged response of Benjamin Franklin to a woman at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787. When asked what kind of government we had he reportedly said “A republic . . . if you can keep it.” Two being the verbiage of the pledge of allegiance – ” and to the Republic for which it stands”

    Why would Franklin, and the pledge, mention “Republic” if we had a democracy? I do not believe that the two are interchangeable.

    1. I take your point. And, I believe it boils down to a quibble over definitions. “Democracy” often brings up visions of Athens. Rule by the people directly.

      We have a republican form of democracy. “Republican” can also be used for “representative”. No, it’s not a popular democracy in the sense that the people vote on every issue (e.g. federal budget, etc.)

      Some states have created something close to a popular democracy. California for example has a system where every decision of the state assembly can and often is put to a referendum vote as well as passage in the assembly. Other states have issues such as taxes that go before the public vs. the assembly. At the federal level, no, not fully a democracy as we only vote for our representatives. We’re a weird mix especially given the leeway the constitution gives to the states.

      We are more democratic in our choice of national leader (pres) than most parliamentary democracies. That choice is a very indirect level of representation. There is no voting for the *person* you think is the best for your district, but rather the party whose stated goals you agree with. And PMs are voted on as party leaders with the assumption that they become PM with a majority. That’s how you get leaders like Corbyn in Labour in the UK.

      Long, professorial way of saying we are a democratic republic. 😀

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