Bring back the spirit of ‘76
July 2, 2012
by Ivan Raconteur

King George III, who had his regal behind perched firmly on the throne of Great Britain back in 1776, was a powerful fellow, but some of his subjects believed he used that power to further his own agenda, while ignoring the needs and desires of the people in the 13 colonies.

There are times when it seems like things haven’t changed all that much since Tom Jefferson, John Adams, Ben Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston were appointed to a committee to draft that famous declaration they used to give old George the raspberry.

The faces are different, and the landscape has changed, but there are times when it seems that there is as much of a gap between the government and the citizens today as there was between George and his colonists.

When July 4 rolls around each year, I like to go back and read the Declaration of Independence, partly because it is a snazzy sort of a document, but also because it reminds me of one of the important steps in the development of this country.

I especially like the part where the authors ticked off their list of grievances against the old king. Even today, nearly 240 years later, when we read those words, it is clear that these were some annoyed, exasperated, and flat-out vexed colonists. They moderated their language some, probably because early on, support for severing ties with England was far from unanimous. Still if we read closely, we can feel the scorching heat behind the words, and the abundant bitterness they represent.

One of the colonists’ grievances with the king, as outlined in the declaration, states “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”

I can’t imagine what Jefferson and the rest of the boys would think of the situation today. If they thought there were too many offices in their day, what would they think of the modern federal government?

We have so many agencies, it’s not clear if the people who work in them even know why they are needed or what they are supposed to do. Government has become so good at creating new agencies (and so bad at eliminating them when their usefulness is past), they are tripping over one another, and government is fraught with inefficiency, duplication of services, and overlapping jurisdiction.

And, when it comes to “swarms of officers” harassing citizens and “eating out their substance,” the colonists didn’t know how good they had it.

I’m not sure what the growth in the number of government employees has been since the country was established, but it must be astronomical.

Another thing that provoked the colonists was the king’s nasty habit of imposing taxes on them without their consent.

Now, I realize that our elected senators and representatives approve the taxes we pay today, but I sure don’t feel that those birds represent me very well. They collect taxes (and fees) for a lot of things that are outside the scope of what government is supposed to do, and they don’t care what the taxpayers think about it.

We forget sometimes that the founding fathers were radicals. Many of the ideas they introduced were considered extreme – and even dangerous – at the time.

They took tremendous risks as they led the way toward shaking off British rule and starting a new country.

Perhaps one of the most important qualities in these people was their ability to think for themselves.

We could use more of that kind of thinking today.

Far too often, politicians are speaking not for their constituents, or even themselves, but for their party.

There are a few rogue senators and representatives who appear to think for themselves, but if we listen, many of our legislators are merely reciting the party’s talking points.

I have observed legislators say they want input from their constituents, and ask citizens for questions and concerns. Yet, instead of listening to these concerns, they use them as opportunities to promote their party’s agenda. If we listen closely, every response cloaks the subject in the blanket of partisanship.

What I’d like to see this Independence Day is an uprising of independent thought. I don’t mean people who claim to be affiliated with the Independence Party, or any other party. I mean people who are willing and able to consider each issue on its merits and act accordingly.

What’s more, I’d like to see this spirit carried through the general election in November.

I realize that this is radical thinking, just as our forefathers’ decision to break away from Great Britain was radical thinking in their day, but it would be a refreshing change.

Too many decisions have been made based on what certain political parties want. Corporations, industries, and special interest groups have become too powerful. Elected officials have become little more than puppets, and the system has been corrupted to smother outsiders.

The irrepressible Coco Chanel once said “The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”

That has never been more true than it is today.

In addition to fireworks, I’d like to hear some independent thinkers speaking loud and clear this Independence Day.

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