EDITOR’S NOTE: Our regular Saturday morning feature, Masta Talka’s “Trumplandia” column, is expected to return next week.
Today, July 4, 2020, we celebrate the 244th anniversary of the historic Continental Congress vote to approve the text of the Declaration of Independence and announce to a fledgling nation and watching world the creation of a republic, a democracy based largely on the principle that “all men are created equal.”
Important historical note: The document wasn’t signed by representatives from all 13 colonies until Aug. 2, 1776. That, however, was just a formality. The die had been cast when Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, announced the creation of the document that cut all ties with the mother country, England.
America today — nearly two and a half centuries after that bold and courageous commitment to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” by the Founding Fathers — is at a tipping point where the country’s government has been taken over by a man, Donald J. Trump, who wants to be king.
Trump’s affection for authoritarian governments, his refusal to govern by the rule of law detailed in the U.S. Constitution (as amended over the years), his invitation to foreign officials to participate in national elections on his behalf, his on-going crusade to ignore a deadly pandemic that has killed more than 130,000 citizens in the past four months, and his providing comfort and support to racist groups attacking one of the country’s fundamental founding principles — equality for all people — doesn’t represent the type of government an overwhelming majority of Americans support.
What does the Declaration of Independence tell Americans to consider doing when confronted with a government of “absolute Despotism?”
Here’s how Thomas Jefferson, considered the main author of the founding document, phrased it back in 1776:
“. . . That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
Trump’s chaotic, self-serving, anti-American approach to governing the country has created a division among the electorate that can only be bridged with “new guards” for the future security of the United States as a republic, a democracy where freedoms for all its citizenry is the hallmark, the standard for countries around the world.
On Nov. 3, Americans will have the opportunity to “throw off” Trump’s criminal and unpatriotic form of government. Based on the words Jefferson provided to the country 244 years ago, there’s a good chance the chant of “U-S-A” will once again ring loudly and with great pride across the country once the electorate casts ballots.
In addition to Jefferson’s historic text, what follows are messages from modern day presidents who put the country before self. Happy July 4, 2020, America! And don’t forget to vote on Nov. 3, 2020!
Jimmy Carter, 2017:
“The experience of democracy is like the experience of life itself — always changing, infinite in its variety, sometimes turbulent and all the more valuable for having been tested by adversity.”
Ronald Reagan, 1986:
“All through our history, our presidents and leaders have spoken of national unity and warned us that the real obstacle to moving forward the boundaries of freedom, the only permanent danger to the hope that is America, comes from within. My fellow Americans, it falls to us to keep faith with them and all the great Americans of our past.”
George H.W. Bush, 1989:
“After 213 years, Americans can say that the experiment is a resounding success. The Fourth of July is a time to rejoice in this success, which has inspired all who seek to break the shackles of totalitarian rule and breathe in the life-giving air of liberty.”
Bill Clinton, 1993:
“And together, we can make the years ahead the best years our nation has ever had if we can rise above cynicism and doubt. . . . Our people have always known that government could not solve all the problems and that all citizens had to be responsible to build this nation together.”
George W. Bush, 2001:
“Our Founders would also be pleased to walk these streets again and to find, amid the problems of modern life, a familiar American spirit of faith and good works. They would see the signs of poverty and want, but also acts of great kindness and charity. They would see addiction and the wreckage it brings, but they would also see in the works of the religious groups and charities throughout this city the power that can rescue abandoned hopes and repair a broken life. In a world very different from theirs, they would see different kinds of hardships, fears, and suffering; yet they would also recognize the brotherly love that gave this city its name.”
Barack Obama, 2014:
“Those early patriots may have come from different backgrounds and different walks of life, but they were united by a belief in a simple truth: that we are all created equal, that we are all endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. . . .
“But our success is only possible because we have never treated those self-evident truths as self-executing. Generations of Americans have marched, organized, petitioned, fought, and even died to extend those rights to others, to widen the circle of opportunity for others, and to perfect this Union we love so much.”