Since today is the Fourth of July, it’s time to dust off the DVD of “1776” and sit back and be regaled by the dancing and singing of the Continental Congress as it labors to create the Declaration of Independence.
We all have our little quirks and minor delusions that endear us to our families and friends. One of mine is that the Founding Fathers who drafted the Declaration that we celebrate today were actually a well-rehearsed troupe of performers a la the musical, in addition to being collectively among the most significant political philosophers ever to grace the Earth.
“Sit down, John! Sit down, John! For God’s sake, John, sit down! … Somebody open up a window. …”
Time-worn and battle-tested, the words of the Declaration of Independence contain, I believe, the most profound statement of human rights throughout all of history, not because of the long list of reasons for breaking from England, but because of this line that all Americans should be familiar with:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –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.”
Liberals as a group don’t understand and frequently hate those words, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it clearly states that human rights have only one source, and it is not the government. Over many years of watching politics, it’s become painfully clear that at the root of much of what constitutes modern liberalism is a rebellion against God, spurred by unjustified pride. Consequently, the notion that rights come from God is anathema to liberalism, while it is the firmest foundation of true intellectual conservatism.
Many schools don’t teach the contents of the Declaration of Independence any more. They teach that it was written and generally teach its role in inspiring the Americans fighting in the War of Independence. But the words themselves are practically terra incognita, an unknown land, and it’s precisely because God plays so prominent a place in the founding and subsequent thought process of this country.
I first realized this knowledge gap when my own son many years ago expressed surprise at hearing those words aloud, particularly the parts about government deriving its authority from the consent of the governed for the sole purpose of protecting individual rights. The clause about people having the right to abolish a destructive government was, as it was in 1776, revolutionary in its effect, and my son has since that time turned into a liberty evangelist of sorts among his friends, who were equally surprised by this piece of history.
Liberals conveniently ignore the Declaration — it destroys too many of their delusions. The fact that the first right listed is “life” completely undercuts all the pro-abortion arguments ever made, and yet it is, to this day, self-evident that the right to life precedes all others. “Self-evident” means only a fool would not recognize it, and there are many fools on the Left as well as the Right. If liberals give the Declaration any regard at all, it usually extends only to the part about the “pursuit of happiness,” which liberals generally sublimate and process into a general sense of entitlement based on the myth that they have a right to be happy and government must make sure they remain so.
The most egregious liberal lie, however, is the fabrication that says the Declaration of Independence is not only not law, but it’s not even a legal document. I’m not certain who teaches this nonsense. I never had such a professor, and if I had, I would have laughed him out of the classroom or else beaten him with a stick for the sake of future students’ mental well-being. But I’ve now heard this lie from several allegedly educated people, so I’m going to assume that it enjoys some currency in the modern university.
The argument goes approximately that the Declaration, far from being a resolution passed, as it says, by a legally assembled Congress of duly elected representatives of the American people, was instead “merely” a list of grievances intended to annoy King George and has no legal bearing because we were not a country until the king graciously allowed us our independence by signing the Treaty of Paris, which ended the war.
The whole reconstructed history smacks of desperation by the Left to be rid of the entire Declaration, both to unburden themselves of any duty to that pesky Creator mentioned so prominently and to justify their other great lie that American rights are granted by the Constitution, which is a “living” (meaning changing at whim) document.
In response to the fact that the Declaration of Independence is an “organic law” listed in the United States Code, one liberal went so far as to insist that organic law is not law because it has a “qualifier” in front of the word “law.”
There are four Organic Laws, considered the pillars of U.S. law — the Declaration, the Articles of Confederacy, the Northwest Ordinance and the Constitution. The Supreme Court has held that when someone takes an oath to uphold the Constitution, he is also swearing to uphold all the founding charters, the Organic Laws, of the nation.
To argue that the Organic Laws are not law is to argue that the Constitution itself is not law, a position that at least is consistent with liberals’ behavior, as demonstrated by the current Oval Office occupant.
To remove the Declaration, and hence God, from the concept of human rights is to say that rights only exist as mere favors of governments, which are the ultimate sources of authority, essentially “divine” themselves by default.
Since governments — in following the “logic” of this view to its conclusion — exist in and of themselves and do not derive authority from anything other than their own power, it follows that anyone with enough power to maintain the claim against challenges can declare himself and his tribe a nation with its own rules and laws, not subject to any other authority. In summation, human rights only exist insofar as an individual can beat up anyone who wishes to exert authority over him.
Clearly, this is a recipe ultimately for tyranny and chaos, the very fruits we have seen in the past and are seeing now as consequences of liberalism.
In the Declaration’s formulation, every human being is an inheritor of divine authority that he can confer onto his government, which is a servant and a guard, not a lord, over his rights.
How often we have fallen short of the Declaration’s ideal could and does fill volumes. But despite the efforts of those who desire for themselves and others only perpetual servitude, the Declaration of Independence remains as the law of our country and as a hope for all of mankind that we may one day all enjoy the fruits of justice, liberty and peace.