This commentary is by Paul Dame, chair of the Vermont GOP.
There are many phrases from the Declaration of Independence that become permanently fixed in the mind of every American, especially that very first sentence. But I would venture to say that most Americans wouldn’t recognize 90% of the words or phrases found in the Declaration if they encountered them somewhere else. That is why I want to commend to you taking just a few minutes to read the Declaration of Independence, found here from the National Archives. The text itself is far more important than any commentary I have to offer. But I’ll quote the first few sentences here:
“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, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to 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.”
One of the things that struck me as I read it again this time was not only what the founders were declaring independence from, but also what they were declaring their independence to. Part of the reason the Founders felt the need to alter their form of government was because the government they had been living under was not only unable to secure, but was in fact undermining the “safety and happiness” of all Americans.
We read from the rest of the justification statements in the Declaration that King George would either refuse to assent to the laws passed by the local colonies, or if they were assented to, he would basically ignore them. These are the first two things that the Founders list as the reasons for their need for a new government. The King’s Government was failing in the very basic and fundamental function of keeping the people safe and protecting the public good.
Failing to faithfully execute laws passed by the people’s representatives and keeping the public safe seem to be one thing that State’s Attorney Sarah George and King George had in common. Selective enforcement based on preferences is bad government and undermines the public trust.
The colonies didn’t want anarchy. They wanted responsible self-government that was responsive to the needs of the people who had to live under the laws day by day. They recognized there is a role for government to play in providing a fundamental structure and environment which protects “Safety and Happiness,” but that the power structure of their time had outgrown either its desire or ability to fulfill that role, instead seeking its own agenda.
Thankfully, over a decade later our founders also provided us with the U.S. Constitution that created the opportunity for us to alter our government from time to time when it “becomes destructive of these ends” but to do so in a way that avoids violence and protects our Safety & Happiness by more peaceful means. Every two years the entire Congress and a third of the Senate are thrown out of office, and must come to the people asking to get their old job back. And we, the people, get to judge and determine whether or not they have protected the safety and happiness of our lives as Americans, or whether it is time to alter the makeup of that government through the election process.
Republicans have an incredible opportunity to oust Democrats who have been derelict with the power they have been given in the U.S. House, U.S. Senate and the White House. Government by the Democrats and for the Democrats just isn’t working for anyone outside the Twitter bubble. Crime is on the rise, inflation is on the rise, opioid deaths are on the rise, depression is on the rise. There is almost no measure that anyone can look at over the last two years of unified Democrat government to see improvements in either safety, happiness or any other positive measure.
As Progressive Democrats have moved farther to the extreme left and abandoned the basic principles of good government, it gives an opportunity to Republicans, independents, and even the old JFK Democrats to declare their independence from the government currently in power and put us on a new path forward to a brighter future — a future that protects the safety of every person’s life and liberty and givens them a great opportunity to pursue happiness.