Friday, July 03, 2009


On this Independence Day 2009, let's stop and reflect on the events of 233 years ago. We all know that the Declaration of Independence was ratified on July 4th, 1776, but that was actually a result of the Resolution of Independence approved by the Second Continental Congress on July 2nd. This resolution had been introduced by Richard Henry Lee (VA) several weeks before; the vote was delayed while delegates worked up support for independence from the Britain. It is believed that the signing of the Declaration was not completed until August 2nd.
Regardless of the details, we all know the major result: Great Britain was defeated by the 13 Colonies; the Colonies, as the United States of America, would go on to become not only a major world power militarily, but an example of freedom, democracy and prosperity that would rise to any challenge. A shining city on a hill.
Which makes one wonder... If today's politicians were running the Revolution, would we all be driving on the left today? Or, worse, would European powers like Spain or Bonaparte's France opportunistically step in and carve up the fledgeling USA? We all know that the political leaders back then, like today, had to drum up support for their views. In spite of that, it is said that only about one third of Americans actually supported the Independence movement, with another third opposing it and the rest ambivalent.
Knowing the way our Congress operates today, would a Nancy Pelosi in 1776 make a trip to London to meet with George III? Would a Harry Reid whine that the Revolutionary War was "lost"? Would the Declaration be weighed down by innumerable social program amendments and pork projects? A post-road to nowhere? Would it even be called a Declaration of Independence, or the "Omnibus" something or other? Or would the Continental Congress degenerate into a dysfunctional body loaded with egos, as the New York State Senate has?
These are all speculative "what ifs". Obviously, the Founding Fathers were all human, and flawed like the rest of us. They all made mistakes. Some passionately hated each other.
But, in spite of that, they got it done.
They were the right people at the right time. A few years later, the French Revolution overthrew an absolute monarchy. After the idealism wore off things went horribly wrong, and a few years later France was under the thumb of the dictator Napoleon Bonaparte. We should thank our lucky stars that something like that didn't happen here.
Today, like 1776, we need the right people for our time, in Washington, Trenton and Freehold.
Have a Happy 4th!

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