Today is the anniversary of our independence, and generally as Americans we make a big todo about it. We stand high on our soap box of “freedom” and congratulate ourselves loudly on our “rights” on a regular basis; when the Fourth of July comes around we take out our star spangled banners, we sing the Star Spangled Banner, and we shoot of exploding rockets into the sky. Generally speaking, when the 4th comes around, I take a break from my normal political writing and decide to renew and remind myself about the glory and beauty of this country, the power of its Constitution, and the strength of its people in self-determination.
I will not be doing that this year.
This is not because I doubt at all the truth of the above statements, but rather because I see them slip away at the hands of parties that are both selected, elected, and self-appointed. Our country stands at the precipice of defining the next hundred years-just as it did following the War of 1812, and World War I. The second decade of the century will send us on our course–the course of human events, as the Declaration of Independence puts it–and though our foreign policy as being World Police is essentially set in stone, our domestic policies and our economic perspectives are standing to ruin everything about this country that contributed to its might in previous centuries, even previous decades.
We now live in a United States of America where our Representatives no longer represent the people–they represent organizations that have awarded by a wild and counter-intellectual ruling personhood. We live in a country where these corporate “people” can unlimitedly fund the campaigns of our political candidates openly and purchase their own seats the in the elected branches of the government. To our detriment, this is an America where the voice of the real people, the working people, and the disenfranchised will never be heard. In fact, the voices of those people will be labeled invalid, radical, and anti-American because we now live in a country where money has legally been defined as legitimacy.
In the United States of America, all men were created equal, all rights were God given, and all voices carried weight, In the Incorporated States of America, your individual rights do not equal those of the so-called people with big money, your rights are defined by the Supreme Court and are mitigated by the heft of your bank accounts, and your voice only holds as much validity as your legal retainer can afford.
We live in a country where the Constitution, a document that was written with the intention to evolve, amend, and change to meet the times is being treated like the word of God. In fact, there are those who take the words of their God–not every one’s God or interpretation thereof–and attempt to impose a re-written history of this country in that image via Bible thumping, faux religious stands, and literalism of both the Constitution and the Bible. But the literalism for either of these sacred documents was and never has been the intention; the Constitution more obviously than anyone’s Holy books. While the Constitution was intended to apply to all Americans, individual Bibles and religions were never in this country intended to apply to anyone but their congregations in their personal lives and conduct using the Orwellian notions of “Literalism” or “Originalism” to distort the entire message of both documents.
Just as American Blacks can now count themselves s a full person rather that 1/14th of a person in the census and in their rights is the same as Christians are not bound to the laws of the Old Testament. These documents are meant to change to reflect the beliefs and morality of the time. “All men created equal” in this nation refers to all men, and the equal distribution of all rights in a consistent and equitable way. Miscegenation is no longer a crime in this country after decades–centuries–of struggle and while racial inequalities still exist that path was one fought on proper principles; even with appropriate religious tones. To say that we are all endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, and to define that creator as your god is perfectly appropriate–so long as you don’t expect me to suddenly revere your god over mine, or your right to belief over mine.
There are however those who would use Chapter and Verse of their religious documents to oppress women’s rights and create precedent to oppress the rights of any one to medical coverage; those people appear to be empowered by the Highest Court in the Land to say that the religious beliefs of their corporate person trump the medical needs (as defined by law). Certain corporate persons now have line item veto power on the rights of employees and the application of ratified legislation and legal mandate–for what reason? Those same types would use Chapter and Verse to prevent homosexuals from entering their place of business. And while the fight for Gay rights has been successful thus far (with every state seeing the issues of Marriage Equality in a court of law declaring that homosexuals may marry whomever they choose that is a legal and consenting adult), the pushback from those holding tight to their religious doctrine and still trying to extend their world view onto others is strong.
Legally, it seems, that corporate persons cannot keep gays from entering their place of business but they can decide which medical coverage can be provided to their employees. That is not “All created equal” and that is an illustration of rights being “inalienable”. In a liberal country such as ours (and yes, it is a liberal nation–take a look at the proper alignment of political ideologies and what those terms mean) the continually expansion of equality under the law is one of the highest pursuits we can have. Holding on to a status quo by those who essentially legislated that status quo out of existence 35 years ago with inequitable and preposterous tax structures is shaking this country to its core.
Our economic powerhouses have become so entwined into our political processes that our country is suffocating from the vice-like grip these interests have on every aspect of our society. From education, to labor, to taxes, to religion, to science denial, to the court systems, to the prison industrial complex, to immigration reform, to healthcare as a basic right, to freedom of speech, to our news media–to basic equality under the law–our ability to be the America we dream of, we sing of, and that we should be is severely compromised by the proportional distribution of rights to the lines of income inequality. In capitalism, there will always be haves and have-nots but in a democracy all citizens should have the same rights.
So today, on the Fourth of July, I am re-orienting myself. I am looking at the situation we are in and thinking of ways to restore the nation. How can we be a nation that is progressively inclusive, democratic, capitalist, and composed entirely of individual human beings as people. Our society is at risk–and that is not hyperbole. Our country is not unsalvageable, but we have to find a way as individuals to take it back from the pockets it has been placed it. And we have to do it because soon in the Course of human events, it will become necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them.
And those are words to live by and remember. Those are words men and women have fought and died over, and they should be be treated lightly. They are the spirit of the day. So while you watch your fireworks, and dress up your barbecued meats, take a moment and think about what the course of human events have been in this nation and if we truly treat all men (and women) equally. You may find the objective answer hard to swallow.