Some reflections on the Fourth of July

Today is the Fourth of July.

It has been marked as a special day in America since the very earliest days of the nation. It marks the declaration that we, the people of this nation, were a free people. When it was announced, the Declaration of Independence was a death sentence to all of those who signed it. America, an upstart colony of the greatest power of the time, was walking away, and that was something no one had ever done to the British Empire. For their part, the English came into the subsequent war with every intention of not only forcing the colonies to return to the fold, but of crushing and eliminating all of those who had put forward such radical ideals as freedom and equality. Several of the people who signed the Declaration were caught by the English and hanged for taking the position they had. Others served in the fighting, where they died in the service of the cause they had pledged their lives and fortunes to. Some were to pay the price not with their own lives, but with those of their sons or the loss of family members caught up in the tit-for-tat fighting between the rebels and the loyalists. Many saw the fortunes they had labored to build vanish, either confiscated by the English or destroyed in the fighting. It was a fight with few of them were sure they could win, yet they went into it and paid the price to give us the freedom we enjoy today.

As I think about all of the above, I am brought to consider how wide the gulf is between those brave men and the people who purport to carry their legacy forward today. Many of the loudest voices of the modern conservative have never risked their lives in the service of their nation, and none of those same people have asked such service of their children. None of them goes anywhere without an entourage of not only followers and flunkies, but security guards to protect them from every sort of modern inconvenience, not just threats real or imagined. And as for fortunes, one of the single things that seems to unite the modern conservative movement is not to risk their fund in efforts to change things, but the need to keep those fortunes safe-and-sound, growing as fast as ever they can manage to make them grow.

In my contemplation of the modern conservative movement, when I hear one or more of them bray about how they are somehow upholding the spirit of the Founding Fathers, I am seriously tempted to laugh out loud. That a group of timid (if not openly cowardly) money-worshiping loud-mouths who’s idea of ‘risk’ is to occasionally hear someone who disagrees with them, could even think to compare themselves with those who risked everything to see this great nation born would be laughable, if it were not so openly sad. That is the state of our modern world, though, and I fear we as Americans are the worse for it.

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