Friday, July 03, 2009

The Declaration of Independence

I face several classrooms full of community college students every year and confess to being appalled at the lack of any knowledge about their government or the significant history of our grand experiment in democracy. I try to teach my course in American Government as something more than a trivia contest. I try to talk about process and function and problem-solving and ideology. But, I usually find myself having to return to essentials, like what is a legislature and an executive.

When it comes to our essential documents, none have read our brief Constitution and usually after ten or twelve weeks in a semester I get tired of telling them it is an assignment from day one of the class. They simply don't know what is there, nor do they care to know. They want "hope" and "change" and government to fix things for them so they can Tweet and surf and FaceBook and listen to their iPods.

Confusion inevitably reigns between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. They don't know what that document did, nor do they note that twelve years elapsed between the two papers, filled with a revolution and a faltering attempt at a confederation.

The Declaration was a statement of principles. It expressed fundamental beliefs and the violation of those principles was established as cause for revolt. It isn't, however, a document of law in our system.

On this week-end commemorating the signing of the Declaration, it is interesting to note this piece:

American Thinker Tells Us What the Declaration Isn't

The perspective is an important one as we watch the news unfold each day about the dismantling of our freedoms by the government which was charged to "protect and defend" them.

Maybe you should take a few minutes and scan through the words of Thomas Jefferson again:

The Declaration of Independence

I wonder what it would take to re-establish the self-evidence of that in Washington?

1 comment:

juvat said...

I realize the question is rhetorical, but...
It's going to take more than 63% voter turn out.

It's going to take more Parents and Teachers educating their students on History and, as you say, not as a trivia contest.

It's going to take Outrage at the blatant corruption of politicians the likes of Murtha and Dodd.

It's going to take the collapse of many of the Main Stream Media whose reporting of events would put Joseph Goebbels to shame.

It's going to take more participation in demonstrations showing American disgust at the fiduciary and financial actions of our representatives.

It's going to take realization on the part of the President and Congress that they were elected to represent ALL the American Populace, not just those who voted for them. And, as a corollary, they were elected to REPRESENT, not rule the populace.

Since it is highly unlikely all or even any of these events will happen, I'm very afraid it's going to take a revolution.