In a few days, the United States will again celebrate its birth and independence from Britain. The first shot of the Revolutionary War, fired at the Battle of Lexington on April 19, 1775, was indeed heard around the world, igniting the desire of other lands as well to resist the political tyranny of Europe’s royal ruling families. In colonial America, ragtag farmers and other common laborers dared to believe they could be soldiers and defeat the prestigious British Redcoats. They could and did.
Being ruled by a small nation across a 3000-mile ocean didn’t set well with rough-hewn Americans. Taxation without representation had become more than a slogan. Recalcitrant English kings and their military presence in America were more than the rugged colonists could take. Enough time had passed for them to see the difference between the Old World and the New, between tyranny and liberty. Although some colonists opposed independence, war appeared inevitable.
Except for the Revolutionary War itself, we tend to ignore the making of America that occurred between 1607, the year of the first English colony, and 1789, the year the Constitution was ratified. That 182-year span of colonial life was marked by hard manual labor and much loss of life brought on by the elements and disease, but also by an intensified spirit of independence and national pride. From 1789 to 2019 is a 230-year span, the actual age of our nation.
As history and nations go, we are still a babe in arms; yet, consider the vast geographic expansion and the rapid economic growth that have taken place in those two and one-third centuries. During these 230 years we have been governed by a national constitution plus the respective constitutions of the 50 states. After an intra-state war, two world wars, a great depression, and deep division brought on by the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement, the nation is still standing.
The misnomer, “civil war,” means two sides are vying for control of the government. The South, in the words of Jefferson Davis, “wanted no part of the national government, but only to be left alone to rightfully un-join what we had joined.” Whatever the conflict is dubbed, the nation survived it. Since 1945, America has been the world’s leading military and economic power.
Americans are snarly as we face our 230th birthday. Cities and states are defying national laws and elected leaders are counseling non-acceptance of election results. Shakespeare wrote that the past is prologue, but let’s hope that certain parts of our past are not. Surely the better angels of our nature have not guided us the past two and a half years during which contentiousness has been nonstop. Our better selves were exhibited during the world wars, after 9-11, and during natural disasters when Americans of different political persuasions have given food, supplies, money and time to assist their fellow citizens whose politics they knew not of and cared not about.
The keystone of American life has always been liberty. Liberals used to favor and support broad definitions of liberty, but the “progressives” who have succeeded them and now compose the ideological center of the Democratic Party are trampling on what classical liberals once stood for, particularly religious freedom and free speech. “Progressive” colleges are now telling their students what they can and cannot say. The Freedom From Religion Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union are still attempting a religious lobotomy on America, despite the fact that the writings of our Founders indicate they intended no such thing.
The dark cloud of socialism hangs over us in a way we could never have imagined. An avowed socialist is currently the second preferred presidential candidate for the Democratic Party. Although human nature drives us to compete and achieve, socialism still offers fake equality. It enslaves. It kills off capitalism, which has always incentivized hard work and achievement, not dependency on the state. Capitalism’s modus operandi is individual freedom and creative innovation; socialism’s is theft by taking. Capitalism feeds us; socialism starves us. Check out its history.
What, then, does our next half-century hold? This question will be answered in large measure in November of 2020. If voters choose socialism, the next half-century will be easy to visualize: central planning will prevail while localism, federalism and the American spirit breathe their last breath.
America’s progresssives still long for European ways. Their preference for collectivism is now out in the open. I’m still betting that lovers of liberty will prevail.
Happy birthday to all Americans!