Tuesday, July 04, 2006

For the People

I have now enjoyed happy hour(with crudite) in the hotel and declined dinner with my colleagues. I am now free to spend a little time talking about the Fourth of July and the current state of our confederation.

Our forefathers had a very clear view of what it takes to make a success of government. They had spent some 30 odd years petitioning the Parliament to recognize the colonies as legitimate citizens of the Empire and failed. It is only after the extended effort to “work within the system” that they recognized the futility and took the alternative course.

The Declaration of Independence is the result, and defines the democracy we have had until now. It defines government as an man-made system, established by the people and for the people, “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” and charged by the people to ensure the equal right of all to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” More pointedly the Declaration says, “whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.” The rabid right and the Christofascists of today have conveniently forgotten this attribute of freedom. The attacks this past week on the New York Times clearly point to this failure of the right, and by default the GOP, to embrace to this admonition.

We now have a government needlessly wasting the lives of its young men and women for nothing but money and power, all the while claiming a fictitious moral justification. They are telling us daily that we are safer by their efforts when all the evidence clearly tells us the opposite. They tell us daily how much better things are going in Iraq only for us to hear today the Iraq government asking for the UN to step in and protect them from the ravages of the U.S. occupation. The “Global War on Terror”, or GWOT, as defined by our current government is recognized as a failure and mistake by the majority of America and even more so by the rest of the civilized world. “Operation Iraqi Freedom” is violating the government’s promise to enable us “life, liberty and happiness”. How many mothers, fathers and wives are weeping tonight over their overwhelming loss in the debacle of Iraq?

We liberals and progressives are not alone in our disgust for our current government. The nations of the world are also holding us in contempt and derision. We, who while supporting the sacrifice of our military in Iraq and Afghanistan, are foaming at the mouth over the war itself, are in not in poor company.

The same has been experienced by many over the years. For instance Mark Twain was called a “traitor” for criticizing the U.S. invasion of the Philippines. In not a dissimilar situation he said: “The gospel of the monarchical patriotism is: ‘The King can do no wrong.’ We have adopted it with all its servility, with an unimportant change in the wording: ‘Our country, right or wrong!’ We have thrown away the most valuable asset we had — the individual’s right to oppose both flag and country when he believed them to be in the wrong. We have thrown it away; and with it, all that was really respectable about that grotesque and laughable word, Patriotism.”

It is very frustrating to be on our side of the fence and know so truly in our hearts what is the right answer for our country. We see the death and futility of our efforts in Iraq and cannot see any end to the carnage. We also know our responsibilities as Americans. The government is there for us and by us and has no legitimacy other than through the good graces of the governed. We, as Americans, are required to recognize and support this truth and though an awesome responsibility, it cannot not be shirked.

If the government is not meeting our needs with respect to “life, liberty and happiness” then it is our duty to try and change it. We are not traitors but patriots. This Fourth of July we need to remember that our democracy has benefits but equal and impelling responsibilities and we cannot ignore them for fear of being branded a traitor by some half-wit with no understanding of what it means to be an American patriot other than waving a flag and getting drunk on the Fourth of July.

Happy Fourth.

Mother Nature’s fireworks have just started here in Greensboro and she is doing yeomans’ work. I am on the sixth floor of the hotel and it is a great view of the thunderstorm.

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