Fred Malo Jr.: Conflicted on the Fourth of July
What I celebrate on the Fourth of July is the greatest nation in the history of the world the Founding Fathers invented 241 years ago, not what we have today. I really believe the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution would hang their heads in dismay if they saw the mess we have made of things.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident …”
Not much equivocation there. Thomas Jefferson didn’t give his fellow signers much wiggle room, did he? He wrote that what follows is the unvarnished truth and not subject to debate.
What the Founding Fathers didn’t do may have been as important as what they did. They did not establish capitalism as the official state economic system, or imperialism as our official state foreign policy, or Christianity as the official state religion, or English as the official state language.
Another action the Founders didn’t take turned out to be the biggest mistake they made. They didn’t abolish slavery. That turned out to bite us on the butt big time four score and seven years later.
The reason the founders did not abolish slavery was to appease the southern colonies who were on the fence about joining the union. Two other smaller mistakes were made for the same reason. The Electoral College came about because the southern states were afraid the more populous northern states would dominate national elections and the Second Amendment arose because the South wanted armed state militias to protect them from slave revolts. The Second Amendment never was intended to grant each and every citizen the right to bear arms.
Through it all, the Founding Fathers gave us a framework from which we should have succeeded. We didn’t. The United States is the richest nation in the world and the mightiest militarily, but what good is that when we’ve failed so miserably on social issues?
The United States was one of the last nation on Earth to abolish slavery. We are one of the few nations that does not have at least limited gun control. The United States is 1 of 4 countries that have not abolished the death penalty. The others are China, Iran and Iraq. Nice company we keep, eh? We join Syria and Nicaragua as the only nations to not accept the reality of climate change and agree to the Paris accords. The United States is just about the only government that does not provide its citizens with some form of socialized medicine. We look down our nose at so-called Third World countries, but we lag so far behind even them, we must be a Fourth World country.
Our elected officials are unprincipled, party line, flim-flam men, whose vote is for sale to the highest bidder and couldn’t care less about the will of their constituents. The true seat of power has not been in Washington for some time, but in the boardrooms on Wall Street and in Texas. At least now we have them all in one place.
We the people have just elected a narcissistic, pathological lying, intellectually limited, unknowably fascist, racist, xenophobic, misogynic, philandering, sexually abusive, money grubbing, and crooked real estate mogul and reality show star to hold the highest office in the land. Angela Merkel is the leader of the free world by default.
The country has not been so divided since the Civil War. Misunderstanding is rampant, which begets fear, which begets hate, which begets violence.
Last year at this time, I attended a church service, unusual for an atheist, and the preacher asked the congregation what they were most grateful for about living in America on the Fourth of July. One parishioner said, “I’m grateful I live in a country where I can hate liberals.” She said the word hate, right there in a church of the God of Love, and the preacher did not admonish her.
Another said, “I’m grateful I live in a country where I can pack my irons.” I wondered what kind of irons Jesus packed. A sword? A dagger? He probably carried a small carpenter’s knife since that was his trade.
Karl Marx wrote the state should periodically renew its revolution to restore the principles on which it was founded. That’s what we need. The Spirit of ’76 needs to be reborn.
Fred Malo Jr. lives in Carbondale.
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