Wednesday, July 4, 2012

the 4th Day of July, in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the Two Hundred Thirty-Sixth

We are an interesting people.

236 years ago a group of people from a hardly united group of colonies took on the strongest military force on the planet simply by declaring themselves independent of King George III's government back in good-old England.

The fifty-plus representatives of the 13 American colonies didn't just wake up on July 4, 1776, and told the King to f-off. They didn't even sign the document until August. The lack of representation in the far away government across the Atlantic Ocean spurred the freedom spirit which would continue to grow through the decades and centuries that would follow. The people of the colonies didn't want taxation without representation, which the King allowed.

That kind of tyranny would not be allowed to continue by the colonists and after 8 years the new independent country defeated the big guy on campus...I mean on Earth. Now independent of a far away government, those former colonies turned United States had to govern themselves. The 13 colonies had already been doing that on their own before the Revolutionary War. During the war, by 1781 the Continental Congress created the first government which recognized the colonies as a country separate from Britain. But the Articles of Confederation wouldn't work for the new States. It lacked a strong central government.

By 1787, the Articles of Confederation needed to be replaced. Once again the American people were tossing aside a form of government, but just like last time they would need to replace it with something that could work. A far away government would not work without representation and a centralized government needed strength to work...without forgetting the States aka the People.

The Constitution would take effect in March of 1789 and continues to the present. This new government would unite the States with a strong centralized government, while sharing responsibility and power with the States which created it. This sharing of responsibility and power would be done in good faith and that is why the centralized government would become known as the Federal government. The word federal has it roots in the Latin word meaning to have faith and trust. The People have been content with their government since. A government created by representatives elected from the masses. A People's Government. Oh sure there have been arguments here and there, slavery, voting rights, war. But the People haven't given up on this government.

States succeeding from the Union had been threatened and acted upon over the years. Since 1865 those threats have been tampered down, sure a 21st Century governor or two have mentioned it. The Civil War from 1861-1865 was the People's second government's biggest challenge. Where as the Articles of Confederation, written in 1776 and ratified in 1781, did everything on the fly, the Constitution was 72 years old in 1861 and had confronted numerous things over the years from expansion in size to fighting wars small and large scale...still excluding a lot of non-white males, but still trying for that perfect union. The government of the people, by the people, for the people, did not perish from the Earth, but continued on trying to perfect itself.

As 1865 grew farther away, those formerly united States became more and more united. Just as nationalism was on the rise in Europe, those united States became the United States. The People created the government in 1776, its existence and power challenged in the first half of the 1860s, and then it failed to help blacks the recently freed slaves. The government moved forward turning away from civil rights but growing industrially and as a world power. By 1898 with a victory in the Spanish-American War, the United States would have territories not on the North American continent. Just as the nation grew industrially in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it would grow in military and political might.

But we the People did not complain. If we did complain the voices of the minority were quieted by the voice of the majority. Welcome to a democracy. But this democracy kicks butt when tyranny is imposed on people whether it's the Revolution or World War II. The foreign wars of the early 20th Century would bring to question rights domestically in a government created by the People. 1945 was far from 1776, but while the US fought for freedom abroad minorities, particularly Blacks, were treated as second class or rather segregated citizens. Their voice was not heard in their government, just as the colonist's voices were not heard in that far away government of King George III's in the 18th Century.

Since the US became the leader of the Free World (the Slave World being led by the Evil Soviet Union. mwhahahahahah!!! ah...the Cold War, while scary in reality a classic covering all genres in stories of heroes vs. villains) after saving the planet in twice from Germany. (And twice from Iraq). Freedom was going to be our thing and it was something we had been doing since declaring it way back in the 70s...of the 1700. It would take television to show the nation the division along racial lines, as well as using the government the People created to help its very own.

The second half of the 20th Century, the People would use this government to help advance their cause, thus creating sharp political divides pro-this and pro-that. The use of the Civil War Era written 14th Amendement's Equal Protection Clause, the People's government was going to hear your case. The government had become more powerful over the years and sure it took almost a hundred years after the Civil War, but the government started standing up for all its people. There would be some that hate the righteousness of the Federal government whether it was Civil War or Civil Rights.

While the times and issues have changed, the country created 236 years ago still moves forward. The People struggle with the idea of government which they created 225 years ago (ratified 223 years ago). As Ronald Reagan said, "The era of big government is over" no wait that was Bill Clinton. While Reagan's election was a revolt on the New Deal and Great Society liberalism, he increased the size of the government with the rise in military spending...but that helped us end the Cold War. Woohoo!!! USA! USA! USA! Now that's some nationalism. The Clinton/(Al)Gore administration shrank the size of government...the administration that succeeded Clinton/Gore increased the size of government. However when the size creeps into the personal lives some citizens get upset and blame it on liberalism. From the 1930s until Reagan's election in 1980, FDR and LBJ's signature legislation defined the nation and some believed a nanny government.

What seems to be forgotten is that big government liberalism ended with 70s...of the 1900s. Liberals and Democrats have moved on and know that big government doesn't work. While some seem to believe the battle rages for small government verse BIG government, but it seems more like no government verse common sense governing using the government that has grown over time. So those that want no government, think back to the Spirit of '76 (aka the Spirit of 1776) when they declared themselves free of a tyrannical far away government. Those rebellious colonists created a provisional government to rebel against the king and once they defeated that king they had to learn to live among themselves and after one set of rules failed another replaced them and have worked near-perfectly since making sure that We the People live somewhat happily ever after.