1196 July Fourth
Okay, we’re over it now. Independence Day, July 4th has come and gone and we’re all feeling patriotic and in need of Tums and anti-bite salve after a day of picnicking and barbecuing. We oohed and aahed about the fireworks displays we fought traffic and crowds to see and we all flew the flag.
Um, about that patriotic thing... what does that mean these days, anyway?
Patriots. Members of the professional football team based in Foxboro, Massachusetts? Members of the hate groups that wrap themselves in the flag and defend themselves against the attack of government black helicopters that are waiting in hidden valleys just waiting to take away their freedoms at gunpoint?
Are they the scholars who believe that the founders of this country were all knowing, all seeing and capable of dealing with centuries worth of new situations hundreds of years after their deaths?
There’s no doubt that was some group, those founders. But they were neither omnipotent nor omniscient and they likely knew that.
Of all the things the founders didn’t foresee, two stand out.
First they could not or did not imagine the immense geographical and technological growth the US has managed since their day. And even more damaging, they did not see that we are not as grand as they were and don’t act as they did.
They wrote a grand constitution but realized before the ink was dry (ink really DID need to dry in days.) amended it to fill holes they didn’t see in the original.
So are true American patriots the people who are constitutional fundamentalists? Or is there patriotism in dissent as well as in rote following of every word?
They appear to have believed in the latter, else there wouldn’t be a mechanism to change things, a mechanism they designed and left for us. They appear to have believed in the latter or they wouldn’t have given the three branches the powers to change things.
But what would they have made of what’s going on in Washington today? What would James Madison say to John Boehner? What would George Washington say to Barack Obama or any of our other recent Presidents?
What would Thomas Jefferson say to Harry Reid? Or to the Klan-like “Patriot” groups that sponsor domestic terrorism?
We have no clue. But you can bet it would not be “get in there and tear down the evolving United States by wholesale killing of legislation aborning.”
In that way, they were -- even in their disagreements -- correct.
So, if we want to honor the founders, sure... celebrate. There’s still plenty of reason to do that. Give them credit for the astonishing thing they put together, us. Give them credit for great foresight. Great, but not unlimited.
Meantime, certain elements of our “democratically elected” government are trying to run the country as if it were a small town and they’re using small town tactics, naturally, to do it.
When there’s a money shortage in Right Shoe, Missouri, the local government cuts the most visible and most basic things first: Firefighters, cops, teachers and road repair. Somehow they manage to keep their government-issued cars. Their spokesman and his office run as normal. Their salaries remain untouched. The courts continue to pour revenue into the treasury and the trout stream still gets stocked.
This July 4th, the Pentagon eliminated fireworks shows at most if not all of the big military installations. The sequester. No money.
Now THAT’s patriotism, 21st Century style.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2013