Has America Jumped the Shark? Thoughts on the Fourth of July

fourth237 years after a group of renegade, intellectual, business men hand-copied a scrap of a letter that would become known as one of the greatest anti-tyrannical documents in human history, tacked the copies all over Philadelphia, and sent it far and wide through thirteen British colonies on the continent of North America, we, their heirs in spirit if not fact, celebrate the event – still – as if we have nothing to lose.

That would be today, the Fourth of July.  The anniversary of the day the founders declared independence from the tyranny of a government trying to tax them into oblivion, or poverty (same difference).

Does this sound familiar?

Given all that has befallen this republic in the last year (let alone the last hundred), this particular year it’s not easy, as we now know we have everything to lose – and various parts of our government, the people we elect to serve our interests, have been systematically using current events and crises to strip us of rights enshrined in law since the days of those original renegades who really did risk everything to forge what would become the most powerful nation in the history of the world.

(Not the intent at the time.  They just didn’t want to pay exorbitent taxes without being represented…not much has changed in that regard.)

To read through modern public journals and the rough draft of history known as “journalism,” one would think America, as she was when she rose to power, is gone, kaput, ripe for an overthrow of the old system, ready to take on the softer tyranny of socialism and maybe even the iron fist of Sharia Law.  It’s as if the United States is being forcibly pushed into the backroom of history, and destructive forces are being pulled out of a closet to tear her apart.

Yes, through the actions of unscrupulous people in Congress, the White House, a few Supreme Court justices, governors, etc., America has been materially damaged, and in ways none of us would think would make much of a difference.  (Among more prominent topics, corporate research and development was thrown over decades ago in favor of short-term profit and university grants.  It’s sort of forgotten right now.  That was a source of ingenuity and the loss is going to hit hard sooner or later.)  It is not too late to reverse the trend or to make the necessary changes that will restore us over time, but the clock is ticking.

The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution is looking better and better, if we can just hold on without an outright revolt that would start REAL tyranny if the government were to be suspended.

To think that a critical mass of Americans do not know where we have been and what it took to get where we ended up is to not know us.  (Please, do not judge all Americans by those featured on Jay Walking.)  In the last three days, thousands of Civil War reenactors have been faithfully reliving the longest three days of American history in a small town we know as Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 150 years after the fact.  In November every year, we remember that the original settlers in some of the northern British colonies almost died during a harsh winter, with nothing but the wilderness around them.  Genealogy is a VERY popular hobby and a good many of us have gone through records both public and private to find out just where our immigrant ancestors came from (and how our last names were really spelled before Ellis Island officials tried to decipher them) and what it took to survive in this country.  Unlike almost any other nation, our history has been recorded, re-recorded, archived, stored, and put on display so that the past may live in the present.

Survival and making lemonade out of onions and a few scraps of sweet potato are admired by the little people, if not the self-appointed elites (whatever happened to that Constitutional Amendment on nobility?  I bet none of the current elites were in the equation when that amendment died).  Rugged individualism and living off the land still happens here.  The mountain men may be gone, but their spirit lives on.  (Ever consider what mountain men would have done with duct tape?)

This is part of what makes us unique – and much of which is targeted for destruction by forces who think they are beyond the reach of the people.

What the forces who want to tear us apart do not realize is that America will survive.  By nature, we are a survivalist culture.  She may not look the same or have the same forms of global power as she gained in the 20th century, but America will survive.  The version that gave us the phrase “‘jump the shark” might well be done, just like the sitcom that produced the episode when it had run its course, but the broader concept of the plot and situation remains, having continued success with renewal – just like the concepts of smaller government, lower taxes, and individual liberty with freedom from government tyranny breeds success through those who are willing to make it work.

Renewal of American concepts is needed – as is remembering the USA has renewed before.  After all, we are on our second government.  The first one was a complete disaster.  In the later part of the 19th century, a good portion of the south had to be rebuilt, both physically and socially.  In the 20th century, the people learned thrift the hard way.  It was all renewal.  We’re there again.  The TEA Party didn’t just come out of nowhere.  It’s just that we’ve come full circle and have to remember that freedom and liberty require citizens’ oversight to keep tyranny from stealing over government.  (That thought is sinking in.)

So long as the ideal of what America, the United States, as it is supposed to be, is held in the hearts of her people, she will never truly die.  Just like the faith of the men who founded her, a love remains that cannot be usurped by the powers tearing at her very soul and trying to put the giant back to sleep.

And so, to the Shining City on the Hill, the ideal that is pure representative republican government: Happy Birthday, and many happy returns.

Just so that we all know that we’ve got work to do, here is something for inspiration.  (Had to find a recording with orchestra or organ, because piano only just doesn’t cut it.)

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