In 1776 America had a population of only 2.5 million. Most Europeans (up to 2/3rds) came here as indentured servants, prisoners, or kidnapped. To gain independence these poor ne’r-do-wells had the courage to fight a global super power to create a country from scratch, guided by the ideas of the Enlightenment and bonded by Protestant Christianity. In a moment of miraculous synchronicity a handful of men had the intelligence, conviction and leadership to revolutionize the human condition and the way it was governed; a grand experiment in liberty and democracy. It did so with little money , no ability to tax or standing army. After the revolution it took many years to form a government, tax (very minimally), and write a Constitution of limited government. It is one of the most remarkable stories history has ever written.
July 4th, Independence Day, use to be my favorite holiday. Growing up in the D.C. area, every year I would go downtown and attend the Marijuana Freedom Rally, listen to punk music, ingest too many illicit substances, be affected by the power of the memorials, and ultimately end up in the Reflecting Pool yelling at explosions in the sky. While it sounds like the actions and wild abandon of a dopey, irresponsible teenager, and it was, I felt a profound sense of freedom and gratitude every year on that day.
That all changed after 9/11, freedom was replaced by “security.” No longer a teenager, but still wanting to feel the nostalgia of freedom of an earlier time, it became impossible. In 2002 I attended the 4th of July in the Capitol, this time I had to enter the public space through security check points, bag searches, under the watch of ever present police surveillance. That day I ended up retreating across the bridge to the banks of Virginia to watch the fireworks and have not been back since.
Every year since that 4th of July has become a solemn day to reflect on the freedoms we have lost. Independence Day has become hallow and meaningful in name only, we only believe ourselves to be free, but our freedoms are being replaced by an enforced semi-voluntary conformity to Machiavellian manipulations of corporate, banking and special interests. The courageous American rebel is no longer; we are soft, decadent and dependent.
In 2017 those who are still productive and work spend 20 years (or half of every year) working to pay fees and taxes so that the massive inefficient centralized bureaucracies can pay off debt to creditors, for military and surveillance, waste, corruption and a Ponzi style entitlement system that most will never benefit from. The middle class is being gutted in favor of a two tier system for wealthy elite and everyone else, separate and extremely unequal. The pampered elders who feasted on the prosperity of an earlier time remain silent in the hope that their banquet will continue without sacrifice. The distracted youth have been mis-educated and are too entertained by gizmos and gadgets to realize what is going on. Even those who consider themselves modern day rebels are disobedient and fight for no cause or ideology, but to further submission and control. There is no fight left, no thinking person to enlighten others through the noise, immorality is moral, war is peace, and freedom is slavery. The grand experiment is finished, and we the people have failed.
Happy 4th of July!