The Fourth is one of my favorite holidays as an opportunity for all of us to celebrate our common article of faith in the independence of a nation committed to freedom and individual rights. While the New York Times ran a piece this weekend on the divisiveness of the American flag and the Washington Post ran a story on how the Statue of Liberty is now a sign of hypocrisy, there are many who still view this country as the greatest hope for freedom in the world. Those are the symbols of the people we strive to be — and the millions who came before us. The American Republic was always meant to be a work in progress. I have criticized our erosion of freedoms and individual rights (particularly free speech) but those are our transgressions — our failure to live up to what this country stands for or the symbols of our long struggle. For example, the assault on free speech across this country is being carried out despite our founding principles, not because of them.
On this day, it is important to remember and to celebrate what was have accomplished in the protection of liberty. We have the ability to change our society but our constitutional system remains the greatest vehicle of justice and equality in the world. This holiday unfortunately shows how our differences threaten to overwhelm our common article of faith in this representative democracy. However, there is more than unites us than divides us and this holiday is a reminder of that transcendent fact. Many of us will join today to celebrate these United States and its history and values. My family will celebrate with a cookout and, of course, lots and lots of fireworks.
We will have a traditional cookout of burgers and dogs with other delights. I use the holiday to have copious amounts of my favorite cherry pie though we also have the traditional apple pie.
I truly love this holiday because it ideally celebrates what we have in common as opposed to what divides us. For all of our faults and failures, we have triumphed over great evils from without and within. The Framers gave us a system that has withstood it all through the test of time and turmoil. It will withstand these days and we will find a course forward as a nation.
Once again, as a Madisonian scholar, you will have to forgive my quoting James Madison from Essays for the National Gazette, 1792:
“In Europe, charters of liberty have been granted by power. America has set the example … of charters of power granted by liberty. This revolution in the practice of the world, may, with an honest praise, be pronounced the most triumphant epoch of its history, and the most consoling presage of its happiness.”
Happy Fourth, everyone.