Perspectives: Celebrating our independence from what?

OPINION – Most Americans will be celebrating independence tomorrow in some shape or form. We’ll see waving flags, banners, parades and fireworks. There will be solemn pronouncements about freedom with patriotic music proudly playing.

There’s a reason the Fourth of July is one of our most celebrated holidays. However, ask a random sampling of Americans to identify just what we’re celebrating independence from, and the answers will be revealing.

Many will recall that Independence Day marks our country’s separation from the British crown. Others will state that it has something to do with the establishment of freedom in America. Both are partially right.

Only those who have actually read the entire Declaration of Independence will begin to understand the scope of why the Continental Congress saw fit to secede from their abusive government.

It’s understandable that we tend to focus on the Declaration’s loftier language spelling out the “self-evident” truths, “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.”

The writers of the Declaration further explained that: “When any form of  government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or 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.”

This is what they did on July 4, 1776, and why we continue to celebrate to this day.

Too often, however, we tend to forget the comprehensive list of grievances the founders listed that spelled out the specific government abuses that prompted them to declare their independence.

A careful reading of their complaints reveals that many of the same excesses that existed in the days of the Colonies are around today – albeit under slightly different names.

The first three injustices cited in the Declaration condemn the concentration of political decision-making power in the hands of the Crown. This centralization of power allowed King George to arbitrarily impose laws and rules with no consent from colonists or their local or state governments.

Compare this with the way Washington D.C. regularly imposes its mandates upon  state and local governments. We feel this keenly in Southern Utah when it comes to land use issues, education, property rights, and energy development.

Our highly centralized national government regularly strong-arms state governments and overturns or blocks laws from going into effect. The current crusade to redefine marriage through the federal judiciary is a perfect example of how arbitrary solutions are imposed without the consent of the people.

The telltale characteristic is when every solution further consolidates federal control.

Other grievances included excessive taxation imposed without the consent of those being taxed and erecting, “a multitude of New Offices” and sending, “hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.” This action stemmed from the belief that it was the prerogative of the Crown to direct the economic affairs of society.

This same kind of abuse can be seen in our time when the federal government interferes in the free market by forcing Americans to purchase health insurance whether they want it or not. It also extends to forcing business owners to pay a certain wage, or provide benefits as if these were enforceable rights.

When the colonists engaged in civil disobedience and pushed back against the heavy-handed taxes and regulations, their government became increasingly violent.

The King’s agents destroyed private property on land and at sea and killed citizens to enforce the Crown’s dictates. The colonists cited this tyranny in the Declaration saying, “He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.”

Some may wonder what an increasingly violent government might look like in our time. The 200-man paramilitary federal task force that descended on Bunkerville, Nevada, earlier this year to terrorize locals at gunpoint over an alleged unpaid fee is just one chilling example.

Pointing out similarities between the colonists’ grievances and our own is not a call for armed revolt, even though modern-day Tories can be counted on to view it as such.

The founding generation clearly understood and, with firm reliance upon Divine Providence, courageously claimed their God-given rights instead of begging permission from an unresponsive and oppressive government.

That is what we are celebrating each July Fourth – independence from big government.

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Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and opinion writer in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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  • Lp July 3, 2014 at 11:07 am

    Brian, I am sure someone is going to complain about this article…..but im not. I wholeheartedly agree with you;)

  • Tyranny of Dan July 3, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Let’s celebrate our freedom from the tyranny of Dixie Dan and his good ole boys

  • Ron July 3, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Well, the 200-man paramilitary unit disbanded rather than provoke a violent confrontation. That certainly doesn’t strike me as the sort of behavior you would expect from an autocratic, dictatorial, over-bearing federal government. Yes, we probably need to be vigilant, but I’d say we’re a long ways from having to deal with a force that plunders our seas, burns our towns, and destroys the lives of our people.

  • Lp July 3, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    Sorry I spelled your name wrong;)

  • Karen July 3, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    The “parallels” envisioned by Mr. Hyde between the actions of the British Crown and the US federal government strain credulity. Plenty of people are more than happy to have the federal government (i.e. the people) control our state lands and keep them away from certain county commissioners who would sell them off to the highest bidder. I’ve talked to many people from back East that are envious of the public lands that we enjoy here in Utah.

    As for mandated health insurance, the Supreme Court affirmed it long ago. My adult son, who is self-employed, is more than happy to pay a little more so he doesn’t have the garbage health insurance that was the only one he could find before Obamacare. My friend, who is diabetic, now will no longer worry about being dropped by her health insurance.

    And, finally, the US agents were wise to let Mr. Bundy and his “posse” play cowboy all by themselves. From all the reporting I saw, it was the Bundy crowd trying to cause trouble. Bundy broke the law, and aren’t we a nation of laws?

    • Freedom July 6, 2014 at 8:32 am

      If Bundy can break government laws and have people like Brian supporting his criminal ways, then will people like Brian support me when I run my water sprinkler during the day, violating a rule of the city telling me not to?

  • Maggie July 3, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    I will be celebrating the country that was meant to be, not the country we have now.
    Perhaps we will never return to the values we once had but I am glad I was here for some of the good stuff , I hope technology fills in some of those gaps for my children for it looks very much like that is what is important to this generation……..and yet there is so much more to life . Happy 4th everybody!

  • joanna July 6, 2014 at 10:23 am

    “…terrorize locals at gunpoint over an alleged unpaid fee…”. Good lord, he acts like Bundy failed to drop a few quarters into a parking meter. Chalking it up as a mere unpaid fee is such an absurd trivialization.

  • Chris July 6, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    “alleged unpaid fee”?? Even the deadbeat Cliven Bundy admitted the fee was not paid. What he claimed, with no legal or factual basis whatsoever, was that the fee was not legally levied. All the relevant law and history contradicts the idiocy of Bundy and Hyde.

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