(When in the course of human events the government becomes destructive of the ends for which it was established, it is the Right of the People to alter it and demand restoration of those Constitutional Principles that have so long assured their Liberty, Safety, and Happiness. Therefore, on the anniversary of our Independence, we offer this new declaration for our times.
View video for full declaration and/or read text, compliments of Firedoglake here.)
When I was a kid, back in the Precambrian era, the Fourth of July was a very big deal. America was a very big deal. We had emerged from two horrendous wars into an era of peace and prosperity. Ike showed us that it’s possible to morph from military to civilian mindset. We had not yet succumbed to pervasive fear about the Great Red Menace.
My childhood was arguably an intensely civil time in our country’s history. We were sick unto death of violence and bloodshed and shortages. Even I got that, and I wasn’t especially tuned in as a kid. (Also, I grew up in a Republican household, but that’s a story unto itself.)
The Fourth of July was one of several times each year when Americans showed our colors, sang our songs, and unapologetically went flat-out patriotic. It wasn’t all for show. It wasn’t about dueling extravaganzas (extravaganzae?). We meant it. We felt it.
For a few hours each July Fourth, my taciturn grandfather lay down his protective mantle and became a kid again. He loved this holiday. The parade in his small North Dakota town included . . . well, everyone. Much as Garrison Keillor noted in last week’s monologue about the Fourth in Lake Wobegon, the first parade had everybody in it, and then they did it again so some of them could watch. Please read on.
Later, the family gathered in a field on Grampa’s farm for our own fireworks. Primitive stuff by today’s standards. Mostly sparklers and a few boomlet rockets. Grampa loved it. We all loved it. And we were so, so proud of America.
Fast forward to current time. I am still proud of America. Certain Americans, not so much. By and large, we’ve rounded up the villains and keep them in or near the White House. Oh, there are some who fly around in their wives’ private jets, who occupy State Houses, who shoot off their wingnut mouths on teevee and radio. But by and large, we know who they are and where they are. Let’s keep ‘em rounded up and require the following:
They will be Constitution-boarded, every single one of them.
They will be forced to start every day of their lives listening to, and then reciting, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution of the United States of America until they get it.
They will be forced to listen to the personal stories of those who are victims of the past six months of job losses in the land of the free and the home of the brave. They must listen to the stories of every single family that has lost someone in Iraq or Afghanistan, whose loved one is grievously wounded, or who whose loved one wanders around in that hell-hole, hoping to come out whole sooner than later.
They must daily view Michael Moore’s “Sicko,” which provides a good broad-brush view of our fractured health care system.
Those who bray the loudest about the inerrancy of scripture must daily read and recite the Beatitudes (aka, Sermon on the Mount).
They will be required to live on a poverty-level income until they have a genuine Ebenezer Scrooge epiphany.
They will be stripped of their little lapel flag pins until they earn the right to wear them.
They will not be allowed to sing the songs, speak the promises or pledge allegiance, nor see a single firework until they become real Americans, genuine patriots.
I believe these are ideas whose time has come.
(Juan Cole posted some quotes about patriotism today. Nice.)