"We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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."
There are times, when you sit down at the keyboard and just have to stare at the blank page for a while, because you don't know where to begin..
The past few weeks have been nothing short of remarkable in short two hundred and thirty-one years since our nation's founders set out ``to brave the storm in a skiff made of paper." As the Fourth of July approaches, I find it to be a good idea to read the text of that Declaration of Independence and do a quick check to see how we as a nation are living up to it. The reason being, that even in 2007 words really do matter.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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. --
We live in a time when the President of the United States defines "all " as only those people who conform to his particular limited , fearful and skewed view of the world. He is the President who history will remember for his legacy of "fifty percent plus one." A legacy where the key to victory is to divide people as much as you can, then prevent any who oppose you from having equal access to the political process. Be they people of color, people who don't speak English, or people who are not Conservative Evangelical Heterosexuals
For over two centuries, men and women have died to secure and defend those unalienable rights. Wars have been waged and won to advance those rights. People from all parts of the world came here, and continue to come here in hopes of sharing in those rights. Yet in the last few weeks we have seen the President and Vice President of the United States show their clear contempt for, and fear of those rights. The past weeks have seen attacks on our freedoms by our own Executive Branch that boggle the mind.
Be it their attempt to end habeas corpus, ridiculous claims of executive privilege, an irrational obsession for secrecy, and a complete disregard for the balance or powers and mistrust of the most basic principles of our democracy. The true legacy of George W. Bush and the Republican Party is their eight year campaign to do what King George of England couldn't do, defeat American independence.
When critics dare question, you call them traitors, you have your surrogates question their character, their motives and their very humanity. In his inaugural address, George Bush's Father lamented a time in our nation where "not each other's ideas are questioned, but each others motives." Sixteen years later, George W, Bush has embraced the politics of personal destruction, making his own legacy one of division, rancor and politically expedient hate.
"--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."
The legacy of George W. Bush is the sad combination of ignorance, arrogance and a deep mistrust of this nation's people and our founding principles. Fueled by years of a rubber stamp Republican Congress that now has the gall question why the new Democratic leadership has not been able to instantly clean up the mess they spent the last decade making. All against the backdrop of George Bush's personal war in Iraq. Make no mistake. This misguided, misbegotten war of choice, that has claimed the lives of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, is the heart of the Bush legacy.
President William McKinley once said; "Unlike any other nation, here the people rule, and their will is the supreme law. It is sometimes sneeringly said by those who do not like free government, that here we count heads. True, heads are counted, but brains also . . ."
The legacy of George W. Bush is the modern day embodiment of those who would sneer at the idea of free government. Where intellect is derided and blind loyalty regardless of consequence is rewarded. Where Science is discarded in favor of a flawed misinterpretation of Christian theology. Where the will of three quarters of the American People can be ignored if it doesn't fit George W. Bush's frighteningly narrow view of the world.
Last weekend Elizabeth Edwards came to my city and by saying "I don't know why somebody else's marriage has anything to do with me", dared to affirm the idea that even in 2007 everyone has the right to the pursuit of happiness. Days later the GOP's most popular surrogate Ann Coulter, responded by saying she hoped terrorists would attack our nation and kill John Edwards. This too, is George W. Bush's legacy. The idea that if you can't win a debate based on ideas, you need only spew hateful nonsense because the media loves a good show and will give you a pass on what it was you actually said.
With only five hundred plus days left in his Presidency, George W. Bush and his party are looking for a legacy. They seem to have found it. It is a legacy of failure. Failure to listen to our friends, failure to learn from mistakes, failure to plan, failure to lead and the failure to secure life, liberty and pursuit of happiness for all our citizens.
It is a legacy of failing to trust the words on that faded skiff made of paper. Yet in the final analysis it is words found near the end of that declaration that may best describe the legacy of George W. Bush:
"A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people"
Happy 4th of July, everybody.