We are 240 years removed from the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It has become abstract to us. It’s ideals are abstract. The causes over which our Revolution was fought seem far removed from our everyday lives.
For perspective, we are as close to World War II now as the World War II generation was to the Civil War, and the generation that fought the Civil War was as close to the Revolutionary War as we are to World War II. We have grandfathers who stormed Normandy. The men who stormed Normandy had grandfathers who endured the pains of the Civil War. The men of the Civil War had grandfathers whose first memories were of the birth of this nation. The Founders of our nation were as close in their lives to the Glorious Revolution of 1688 as we are now to the early days of Germany’s re-emergence as a global threat.
Just as the struggle in World War II is real to us because we are so close in time to it, the struggle of the Glorious Revolution was not abstract to our Founders, who believed themselves heirs to it and the English Bill of Rights. Their grandfathers and great-grandfathers had fought for the rights of Englishmen and had been given rights such as a right to keep and bear arms and have trials by jury and have no soldier quartered in their homes. The reason we have our Bill of Rights is because the American revolutionaries were fighting for what they thought was their Bill of Rights. When it became clear that the king and Parliament had no intention of giving them those rights, they declared themselves free and independent.
Along the way they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, to an idea that is America. We are not a nation because of long held geographic proximity to each other and the evolution of a common tongue. Nor are we a nation because we had one strong man declared king to unite us. We are Americans, all of us, by choice. Perhaps it is not our choice, but the choice of our ancestors who chose to throw off their historic and binding ties to a former nation in order to begin again anew within the great experiment of the American experience.
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Fast forward 240 years.
The Democrats would hand us over to a woman who, while in office, mishandled classified information and lied about it publicly. The Republicans would hand us over to a man who has swindled old people and single mothers out of money, rigged a system to ensure he got rich while others lost their shirts in bankruptcy, bragged about his affairs, and dog-whistled to racists and white supremacists.
No one in either party is willing to stand up and lead. Our leaders are children. None are willing to declare this madness on the part of both parties and demand a change.
Both parties have allegiances now to themselves and not to country. No right thinking person can look at Hillary Clinton and think her handling of classified information and lies about it to the public qualifies her for the office of the president of the United States. No right thinking person can look at Donald Trump and think this is a man we should put in the White House.
But patriotism has given way to team sport. Both parties declare others patriots by supporting their party, not their country. The Founders would be horrified and we should all be ashamed.
Erick Erickson is a radio talk show host in Atlanta.