It is a mystery why Americans make such a gargantuan deal out of the Fourth of July when very few of them understand why the Founders declared their independence from England. It wasn’t to blow off fireworks, wave flags or drink to excess. No, it was to escape a tyrannical monarchy, an overbearing religion, and taxation without representation; exactly what Americans find themselves facing today, 241 years after the Declaration of Independence.
Thomas Jefferson’s immortal document for the young nation was likely the impetus for Abraham Lincoln’s “borrowed statement” that America is “a government of the people, by the people, and for the people; something he said would never perish.
Abraham Lincoln, like Thomas Jefferson, probably never imagined Americans would cede their government, their democracy, and their independence to a tyrannical dictator and his equally tyrannical political party. But that is precisely what occurred last November when the tyrant who lost the people’s vote by a wide margin was installed in the White House by a hostile foreign government, vote suppressing Republicans, and emoprogs still crying for their pie-in-the-sky commie-loving con man (not Trump). Now all Americans are watching their democracy, and their independence “vanish in the haze” of fascism by Republican rule – not governance.
“Every action of government is the people’s business. Every penny spent by government is the people’s money. From the courthouse to the statehouse to the White House, government belongs to the governed and not the governing.”
Those statements, courtesy of Jim Zachary, are an introduction to an opinion piece explaining why a free press is crucial to democracy. Anyone with a functioning brain comprehends that democracy is part and parcel of independence from tyranny, and it has never been more prescient a concept to grasp than today.
One of the reasons the Founding Fathers and Constitution’s Framers included freedom of the press in the First Amendment was their knowledge that “independent checks and balances are critical to our independence.” And those “independent checks and balances” are the purview of the Fourth Estate (the press, media etc), not any part of the government.
By now it should be glaringly apparent that the white trash in the White House, and Republicans as a movement, despise democracy as much as they hate Americans’ independence. If that were not the case congressional Republicans would not be pushing widely unpopular policies, religious dictates by government fiat, and terrible Trump would not be attacking the press as surrogates for Americans’ democracy and independence.
As Professor Robert Reich noted yesterday, when Trump put out a video of him knocking out CNN as surrogate for all independent media, he was attacking democracy, and Americans’ independence he intends on destroying. It’s what every tyrannical dictator does as a matter of course and dirty Don is, if nothing else, aspiring to be a tyrannical dictator.
Every student of American history should be aware that Founding Father and Constitution Framer Thomas Jefferson was not always a fan of a free press; no politician is for obvious reasons. However, Jefferson knew it was absolutely crucial to democracy and the people’s independence. In fact, in a 1787 letter to Edward Carrington, the young nation’s third President wrote about the importance of a free press.
“And were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”
Obviously, Donald Trump believes otherwise on more than one account. Trump does not want every American to be able to read, or think critically, or he would not have appointed an education secretary more devoted to using public schools to “advance god’s kingdom” than actually educating the next generation. And instead of at least accepting the Constitution’s guarantee of a free press, Trump has declared it, as a surrogate for democracy and independence “the enemy of the people.” Robert Reich could not have called it more accurately when he said that a fake video of white trash Trump “knocking out CNN” represented him “knocking out democracy,” and Americans’ independence.
Some may ask: how have Trump and Republicans acted to restrict Americans’ constitutionally-guaranteed independence? Of course there are too many examples to cite, but just a few are Republican attacks on Americans’ right to privacy, their right to protest, their right to determine when and how they start a family, right to free and fair elections, their right to freedom from religion, their basic human right to clean water and air, and their right to direct “their” government in how it spends “their” money. Republicans and Trump vehemently oppose each and every one of those rights which is partially why Trump said he does not like the U.S. Constitution any more that he likes that other critical aspect of democracy; an independent judiciary.
As many pundits, sociologists, and historians have noted, America is in jeopardy of becoming a fascist dictatorship and the people without a voice or even a semblance of independence. Republicans in Congress and state legislatures are just as guilty of destroying democracy as Trump is, and likely more so. However, while Republicans are working behind Trump’s distractions, he is putting out “increasingly incendiary messages that constitute an overt assault on freedom of the press; the cornerstone of America’s democracy and the people’s independence.”
Hopefully today while Americans are waving flags, over-indulging in alcohol, overeating and enjoying firework displays, they will take a moment to relish their independence like the dying commodity it really is. Because it, like their democracy, has never been as endangered as it is with Republicans and Trump dismantling their democracy and eliminating their independence.
Happy Independence Day!