Happy April 15th! This is the day we dread from April 16th of the year before all the way through summer, fall, winter, and early spring. The time has come to pay the piper…. to fork over the dough…. to render unto Caesar what is “his” (really ours).
On this April 15th, a fittingly dreary and rain-soaked morning, I find myself thinking of the Declaration of Independence more than Form 1040EZ of even my bank account. I know I’m a couple of months ahead of the traditional Declaration day (July 4th) but this is where my thoughts run every year when the dreaded 4/15 rolls around. I often wonder what those brave men who stood around a table in a stifling Philadelphia State House and pledged to each other their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor would say were they able to see the nation their courage purchased. The older I get, the more confident I am that the response would be something along the lines of, “For this we risked everything? For this we plunged our nation and our countrymen into the depths of war? For this?”
Don’t get me wrong, I am as ardent a patriot as you are likely to find breathing. I come from a long line of military service members, and a love for country is as engrained in the fiber of my being as my love for God and for family. I find it at times difficult to look at the flag without being overcome with humility and gratitude for the millions (those in uniform, their families, unflinching patriots, etc.) who have sacrificed over the course of two hundred and thirty nine years to protect and preserve the nation it represents. I feel that debt and that obligation deep in my bones every time I see the Stars and Stripes, every time I hear the Star Spangled Banner, every time I pass a national cemetery.
But is the United States today the same nation that our Founders established? Do we hold to the same principles that drove those ordinary men to dare the extraordinary? Have we honored the price that was paid so long ago, and by so many since?
When I look at the nation today, I can’t answer those questions with anything but a resounding no. For more than a century, our nation has not only drifted away from the principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence, we have willfully and, at times eagerly, run from them. This is not a problem that is new, and it is not a problem that is endemic of a particular political party or administration. It is a trend and a movement that wraps itself in the mantle and mantra of “progress” when, in truth, it seeks a regression to a time when the ruling elite lorded their power, prestige, and self-appointed grandeur over the “unwashed masses” of the people. This is not progress. It is not progress to go from a people individually empowered and enlightened to a people beholden to the largesse and the good graces of a government, whether monarchical or federal in character. American today is not the America that was built on the backs of patriots the likes of Adams, Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Douglas, Carver, Coolidge, Eisenhower, Kennedy, etc.
The America of today is something different entirely.
Today we have a government that unabashedly uses the power and the weight of law (both legislation and regulation) to oppress and punish its citizens. We have a government that uses the invasive and pervasive power of the IRS, one of the most far reaching governmental agencies in human history, to single out and target political opponents and dissidents. We have a government that openly condones and employs methods to assassinate American citizens on foreign soil for their words when those words are deemed by a “high-level official” to pose an imminent threat to the United States. Today, we have a government that can force its citizens under the penalty of taxation to purchase a service (health insurance) whether they want to or not. We have a government that can search emails, physical mail, phone conversations, even library records without even a notice that an individual is under investigation and suspicion. We have a government that can deem a patient to be at risk and seize that patient’s physical person over and above the objections of the patient and the patient’s parents/guardians (Justina Pelletier) and hold that patient until the state sees fit, or until the patient dies, whichever comes first. We live in a nation today where non-specific posts to social media can be deemed sufficient cause for imprisonment, confinement, and even psychiatric commitment against a patient’s wishes and with no criminal charges filed (Brandon Raub). Our government today takes the taxes that we, the citizen, have labored over and disburses them to private corporations to cover losses that result from high-risk and morally compromised business practices (TARP, Solyndra, etc). We have a government today that has granted regulatory agencies the power to seize property, finances, and even imprison people with the full weight and effect of law under the guise of “regulation” without the benefit of accountability to the electorate (EPA, FDA, USDA, BLM, etc).
How many of the things we see in our federal government would have been tolerated by men like John Hancock, John Adams, Ben Franklin? How much of what our government chooses to do with our taxes would we support and condone if we were given the choice? How many of the grievances from the Declaration of Independence can we simply cut and paste into today’s frame of reference?
So this tax day I find my thoughts turning once more to the Declaration of Independence and to the sacrifices of those who have gone before me. I am increasingly convinced that the government under which we live and for which we toil and labor more than a third of the year to fund is so far removed from the principles of that Declaration and the Constitution that it led to as to be no more than a faint image of what it was intended to be…a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
DOJ Whitepaper justifying US citizen assassination: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/74/020413_DOJ_White_Paper.pdf
“We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States…. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”