Every year I say I’m going to go, but I always missed it for whatever reason. Finally this year I made it over to Washington Crossing Historical Park in Pennsylvania. Today was actually a dress rehearsal for the “real” reenactment that takes place every Christmas Day. I appreciate the volunteer reenactors sharing their love of history with the public.
The original crossing took place on December 25th and 26th, 1776. It was an act of desperation by General Washington that may have saved the American Revolution. Defeating the Hessian mercenaries in Trenton, and the subsequent victory at Princeton gave the faltering Revolution a new lease on life. It was such an important event in our nation’s history that it is well worth leaning about.
To engage in civil, enlightened debate on what political direction is best for the United States, promote a better understanding of conservative/libertarian principals and effectively express them to others in a thoughtful and insightful way. Liberty Relearned’s goal is to help bring back liberty as the chief American value and to counter the misleading and destructive rhetoric of the liberal statist crowd in America.
A year ago, after a long time watching America drift ever further from her roots of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness I saw some very troubling things happening to my country and society. The Supreme Court had ruled that it was indeed lawful for a government to mandate its citizens engage in commerce through the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. The IRS had been used as a weapon against the Tea Party and other similar organizations. In Washington, D.C., the President closed off and denied access to the WWII Memorial to the very veterans it honored just to turn the public sentiment against his opponents in Congress who were attempting to restore fiscal sanity to government. I had wondered if the ideas of liberty and personal freedom hadn’t become passé, a quaint notion from a now bygone era.
Even more alarming was seeing the younger generation of Americans gravitate towards destructive ideas such as Socialism and Authoritarianism. This generation, never having known such things as Cold War, the Reagan Revolution, being even farther removed from such things as the ‘space race’, WWII and the Marshal plan than my generation, seemed to be unaware of the things that made and continued to make America great. Having never personally experienced any existential threat to its loss, many of them seemed to take things like freedom and liberty for granted. Having never seen some of our greatest moments, they forgot or never even learned about something called American Exceptionalism.
What then, could a single person of modest means do to help turn the tide away from collectivism, progressivism, and just plan ignorance? What could I do to help bring back the values that our Founding Fathers believed to be so important that they laid their lives and their fortunes on the line for? Some people are blessed with skills of oratory, some are natural leaders, and some others have charisma. I was blessed with a certain skill in writing and design. There was really one avenue that I felt offered me my best chance to communicate my love of things like capitalism, Americanism, and personal freedom—a year ago this week I started this blog.
It’s now 52 weeks and many posts later, and I’m still working, still believing, still teaching, still learning. A special thanks goes to you, the reader for joining me in this endeavor. Here then is to another 365 days of us, in our own ways and voices, pursuing a common goal of helping to bring back liberty as a primary American value.
It’s the end of another Independence Day weekend. Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” is still playing in my head, and I am indeed proud to be an American. This 4th, I did what’s possibly the ultimate way to celebrate the day, I went to Philadelphia, the nation’s birthplace. There is nothing like roaming the streets of Old City Philadelphia to reinforce one’s patriotism. It was a common site to see folks dressed in Revolutionary War era regalia. A crowed of us revelers listened to an actor dressed as Thomas Jefferson read the Declaration of Independence, not far from the place where the real Thomas Jefferson read our nation’s birth certificate. Everywhere were reminders of our struggles to become free. Everywhere people sought to learn about our nation’s founding. In other parts of the country, people celebrated with cookouts, parades, and of course fireworks.
As a self identified hybrid conservative/libertarian and a veteran, it was easy to feel a certain measure of pride and patriotism on our country’s birthday, which leads me to my question: What do (if anything) the Secular/Progressives celebrate on July 4th? Our Founding Fathers risked their lives and their fortunes in the cause of liberty. They sought to break from what they saw as a tyrannical government. They wanted to have more control over their lives than a king three thousand miles away. Do Progressives value liberty the way our founders did? Is government control over our lives to be shunned or sought? Have they expanded or contracted the freedoms that the Revolution was fought for?
At the other end of Independence Mall from me was held a gay-pride rally. They were celebrating a newfound freedom to marry. Whether you agree with that cause or not, or their methods in achieving that goal, you have to at least have some respect for any group of Americans who successfully increased their own personal liberty. When was the last time the Government offered any American greater freedom, rather than take it away? Unfortunately, their victory was the exception and not the rule. On the balance, the government overwhelmingly tends to limit the liberties of its citizens. It does it in the name of “fairness” (read income redistribution) or “the greater good”. It has limited our freedom to buy health insurance or not, it dictates what kind of light bulbs we can use. It seeks to control how farmers manage their lands by regulating rainwater. They control what our kids eat in school and what they learn. They seek to control how much sugar you put into your body, and smoking? Forget it.
Today’s federal government is in many ways, much more powerful, much more controlling of the everyday lives of its citizens than the one the American Patriots fought to free themselves from. Our President through executive orders and regulations enjoys at least as much control over our lives as did King George III have over his subjects. The statist, progressive element in this country as exemplified by President Obama, Secretary Clinton and their followers share very little philosophical ground with our Founders who subscribed to the Enlightenment philosophy of Natural Rights and their supremacy over those bestowed by any government. The Constitution which enshrined those rights on paper has lost almost all meaning to the Statist Left. They cite it when it suits them and ignore it when it doesn’t. In many cases, what would seem to be the plain meaning and intent of the Constitution has been warped beyond all recognition in cases where Progressives see it as a hindrance to their cause.
The Secular/Progressives even seek to rewrite or obliterate American History when it does not fit into their narrative. Our Founding Fathers in their retelling, were not great, enlightened men seeking freedom, they are now greedy racists, who sought only profit. They forget, and wish the rest of us to forget, that it was their Democratic Party that gave us Jackson and his Indian Removal Act that blazed the Trail of Tears. They forget, conveniently that all of the leadership of the Confederacy including its President, Jefferson Davis were all Democrats. Democrats lead the segregation that lasted up until the 1960’s. In short, all of the sins they seek to attribute to the Founding Fathers were committed to a much greater degree by Democrats later in our county’s history. Perhaps the true motivation behind their newfound fervor to remove the Confederate flag from all public places is merely a desire to sweep away the last remaining reminders of a failed, Democrat lead separatist movement.
The values of the Secular/Progressive/Statists are not those espoused by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and the rest of the Founders. Those men all believed in the Constitution and the Rule of Law. To the Progressive, those things are just quaint anachronisms of a bygone era, to be followed if at all, only when it suits their purposes. Even the Enlightenment and Revolutionary era that followed it has been subject to their attempts to rewrite history and nullify their influence on American culture today. They seek also to erase the historical evidence of their own racism, and that of their chosen Party while attempting to project it on those the great men who gave us the freedom and liberty we celebrate every year on July 4th. If they celebrate that day in 1776 at all, it must be from a position of denial and refusal to acknowledge how different their cause is than that of those who founded this great nation.
Sunday I made my (surprisingly) first trip to the National Constitution Center, in Philadelphia, PA. Though it’s not the home of the U.S. Constitution, which resides in the National Archives, Washington, D.C. – it is the home of a lot of exhibits that celebrate the Constitution and Bill of Rights. It is not a typical museum in the sense that it is not just a collection of artifacts to be admired; the displays all contribute to the story of the U.S. Constitution. Its purpose is primarily educational, and secondarily cultural. It is also a living institution hosting various public discussions, debates, and forums.
The history of our Constitution is inexorably linked to the history of our country itself. Just about every important moment in U.S. history therefore receives some coverage at the Center, from the American Revolution, to the Civil War, to Watergate. Civil rights of course is a major topic with many displays touching on subjects such as slavery, woman’s suffrage, and workers’ rights.
It is full of interactive touch-screen exhibits. A series of such displays lets you find out if you would have been able to vote in various eras throughout American history. Another one is a mock voting booth that lets you decide issue by issue between two randomly selected candidates. In my case the choice was between Ronald Reagan and Barak Obama. (No surprise, Reagan would have gotten my vote.)
Another permanent exhibition and possibly the most identified with the Center is Signers’ Hall a collection of 42 life-sized bronze sculptures of those Founding Fathers who attended the constitutional convention in Philadelphia. Are you as tall as George Washington? Find out! Want a photo-op with Ben Franklin? You can do that.
That brings me to one of my few complaints about the Center, photography is not allowed in many of the exhibit halls, the Signers’ Hall being the major exception.
Like most museums, it has special, temporary exhibitions. Those at the Center of course, have to do with government. The one there at the moment has to do with the Kennedy Presidency aka: Camelot.
The National Constitution Center is in the heart of Philadelphia’s historic district, a short walk away from other historic sites such as Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the Philadelphia Mint, just to name a few. Ample public transportation is available, so no excuses not to visit if you’re in the area!