In honor of Independence Day, National Review Online asked friends and family why and what they are expressing gratitude for this 4th of July:
The first thought that springs to mind this July 4th is whether any celebration must be grudging. We live in strange times that daily grow stranger still. The relentless campaign to supplant the principles of a free republic with the promises of omnipresent government shows little sign of abating. The circus parade of human life, complete with bearded ladies and bloodied gladiators, intensifies. The brutal Circus Maximus is still in business, with regular performances in Sudan, Nigeria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Civilization seems not on the march, but on the run.
What, then, to celebrate? If nothing else, the knowledge that we live, as always, in consequential times. Moreover, we live at a time of close contests of profound consequence. In the last year alone, our highest court has delivered a sharp rebuff to natural marriage and a narrow victory for religious liberty. Both votes were 5–4. Polls continue to show Americans almost evenly divided, and not necessarily along partisan lines, on numerous value questions, including essentially moral questions in economics and foreign policy. The answer to the eternal question — what difference can one person make? — is clear. Every one of us — every patriot voice, every prayerful deed — is indispensable. And that is cause for celebration on this fourth.
— Chuck Donovan is president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute.
Matthew J. Franck
What’s worth celebrating on Independence Day? Of course it is the bequest of a free country, handed down by our mothers and fathers. But what do we mean by a free country? Among other things, the freedom to ignore politics altogether, and to live one’s life without paying the slightest heed to what’s happening in the nation’s capital, perhaps informing oneself just enough every two years or four years to cast an intelligent vote in an election. This may seem an odd thing for someone to say who has spent his adult life in the study of politics, and who writes about practically nothing else. But any country in which one is compelled by necessity to take an intense interest in politics is a country where freedom is in trouble — lost or under threat of being lost. This is one reason to oppose our contemporary progressives, who will not be content until everything personal is political and the state has absorbed civil society.
In 1780, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail from Paris, where he was posted as a diplomat during the Revolution. He addressed her fondly as “Portia,” showing where his own interests lay, could he but act on them. But these were revolutionary times, and so he noted:
I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine.
Adams understood that political freedom must be understood to include a freedom from politics, if that is how one wishes to live. So on Independence Day, feel free to celebrate America by ignoring Washington.
— Matthew J. Franck is Director of the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey
That the failed Obama revolution should be culminating in naked insanity on the left seems bad and is certainly sad. But Obamacrats have revealed a precious truth about themselves: They despise the Constitution and don’t begin to understand it. They meet quiet doubts about man-made climate change with mouth-foaming pit-bull fury — I have seen it. Mrs. Clinton shows her special contempt for women by mentioning the question of who pays for abortion-inducing pills in the U.S. in the same breath that she condemns the rape, enslavement, and murder of girls elsewhere. One suffering peasant woman is pretty much just like another.
Yet Obamacrats are not insane! They have merely found religion at last. Conservatives are far more likely than progressives to be practicing Jews or Christians. Yet everyone needs religion; and the crazy asymmetry of today’s politics (where is the Howard Baker, the John McCain among today’s Democrats?) shows that progressivism has risen off the launchpad of lunacy into the sphere of religion. Its settled dogmas and fanatic believers show it to be a new paganism.
Is that good? Yes: As these facts leak out, the supposedly unbeatable Obamacrat coalition dies. Hispanics will choose Christianity over paganism when it comes to that. Many blacks will, too. And many white Catholics and some union members. The more the frustrated Obamacrats talk, the plainer they make their new-old dogma of nature-worship, health-and-body worship, power-worship — and their casual hatred of biblical religion. But this is still America the Biblical Republic, where paganism is still (thank God) a hard sell. Happy Fourth!
— David Gelernter is a professor at Yale, author of Americanism and forthcoming Mind from Inside.