We are bracing ourselves, this Independence Day, for the next assault on our lives and freedoms by a craven Republican Party and a Supreme Court dominated by intolerant ideologues. I didn’t find solace when reading the Declaration of Independence aloud in this episode, as my late father Quentin did year after year on the 4th. Instead I found haunting predictions of attempted tyranny in our age by Trump and his obsequious followers, now being methodically revealed by the January 6th Committee.
While following the bipartisan Committee’s efforts and dogged reporting by journalists, the words of our Founders rebuking George III resonate loudly: “a long train of abuses and usurpations…evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism…He has forbidden his Governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance….He has refused to pass laws for the accommodation of large districts of people….He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual…obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither….He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices…He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power….For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world….He has excited domestic insurrections among us….”
Flames of despotism and jingoism have proliferated since 2016: "America First". The tariffs. The Muslim ban. The Texas State Legislature’s “special sessions”. The Wall. Voter suppression. The packing of the Supreme Court with religious zealots invoking long-discarded features of 18th century life as the basis for 21st century rights of women, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community. Stripping the rights of women to make choices about their bodies. Outlawing the real history of slavery and race relations in public schools. Threats to subject gay and transgender people to criminal penalties, and to outlaw birth control. Gun laws which have unleashed a river of unimaginably destructive weapons easily obtained by individual citizens harboring irrational fears--no longer single-load muskets intended for the common defense. Trump's consideration of martial law and his willingness to authorize the military to shoot BLM protestors.
And the “Green Bay Sweep”. The Declaration’s final paragraph indicting King George cites the “excitement of domestic insurrections among us”.
Celebration is not on the minds of many of us these days, but instead the last sentence of the Declaration is what we have this July 4th: “And for the support of this Declaration…we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
Vote. For every office, in every election. To do otherwise is to dishonor the sacrifice of countless lives, and to risk extinguishing the American experiment.