It’s an American tradition to gather with family and friends on the 4th of July. A barbecue, trip to a beach or just a modest family get-together are all appropriate ways to celebrate Independence Day.
Our Founding Fathers would approve. While most of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, committing their “lives,” their “fortunes” and their “sacred honor” to the cause, they also knew how to enjoy themselves. They would be pleased to know that Americans still acknowledge their courage and sacrifice and, as part of their legacy, most Americans next Friday will take pleasure in a day of celebration and leisure.
But I hope we all take a moment to reflect on all we enjoy because of what these brave souls accomplished. Our nation was founded on the radical notion that all political power resides in the citizenry, not the ruling class. And it is this radical notion, founded in Natural Law, that has provided Americans with unprecedented freedom, freedom that has resulted in unparalleled prosperity.
But those who declared independence from tyranny in 1776 and those who framed and adopted the Constitution in 1787-1788, knew no system created by man is foolproof. The individual rights guaranteed by our well-crafted Constitution can be undone by lethargy and disinterest on the part of the people and corruption and vanity on the part of elected leaders. If the Founders could join us at our celebrations, they would remind us that they put it all on the line for us and, if we truly value the gift of freedom they have provided, we, in turn, have an enduring obligation to defend and protect our precious liberty.
Perhaps more than at any time in American history, our rights and freedoms are in danger on both the national and local levels. Many of those who now hold the levers of power are trying to dictate behavior and obligations to American citizens that the Founders would equate with the demands of the King of England. In both Washington and Sacramento, officials are seeking to seize the property of citizens in the form of exorbitant taxes. And they are pushing to limit your freedoms, everything from denying your right to choose your health insurance plan and doctor to limiting how much you drive and controlling your diet. They are using agencies of government, like the IRS and NSA, to intimidate opposition and to gather information on law-abiding citizens.
Many of the policies backed by our current crop of leaders are designed to perpetuate their own power and assure the comfort of those who work in government. Americans now find themselves confronted by government acting as a militant special interest and by officials behaving like public “bosses” rather than public servants.
But the Founders provided a solution if we choose to use it. Most of those who have betrayed the public trust will have to stand for election this November and we, the American people, have the opportunity to clean house.
Here are small simple steps that can achieve big results:
1. If you are not registered to vote, register now. There is no time to waste.
2. Make sure your family members are registered.
3. Make sure your friends, neighbors, colleagues and club members know what is at stake and be sure they are registered to vote. Go to them personally with a registration form in hand.
4. Network with like-minded individuals to help make sure the vote gets out. Neighborhood associations and political clubs are an excellent place to start. And don’t forget the internet. A quick search will provide contact information for scores of groups dedicated to protecting our freedoms. Sign up to receive information so that you can coordinate your efforts with others who believe as you do.
But if you can only take step number one, and follow-up and vote, it is still worth the effort. The founders would be proud and your fellow citizens will be grateful. And on July 4th, raise a glass to liberty!
Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.