Two Hundred Thirty Seven years ago, the Founding Fathers declared the independence of the American colonies from Great Britain, citing the tyranny of the King and the injustice of rule without representation, and making the declaration to the world that they valued their liberty more than their lives. They left us with a legacy of freedom, and they did everything in their power to ensure that our government would not turn into a tyrannical replica of the kind from which they had so recently been severed. Throughout the years, countless men and women have dedicated their lives, and laid them down when necessary, to safeguard our liberty and to ensure that our ideals continue in the future.
When I think of the sacrifices that our forebearers have made on our behalf, I can’t help but wonder if they would be pleased at the way we are treating their legacy. How would Thomas Jefferson feel about the government’s surveillance and record collecting citizen’s communications without probable cause? Would George Washington have approved of an Internal Revenue Service that used its near-limitless power to discriminate against the political enemies of the current administration? Would the Continental Congress have been willing to declare independence if they could have foreseen a future where the government they would create would someday seize journalists records and threaten to try them for espionage, or kill citizens without due process using unmanned drones?
I sometimes imagine, if the founding fathers were before me today, how I would explain the current state of affairs to them, and I feel a deep and abiding shame that we, as a people, have allowed the development of a government so similar to the one from which they fought to gain their independence. During this Independence Day season, pause from the fireworks and BBQs to remember the cost of liberty, and that it will not endure forever if not maintained.