Jul 04 2016
Wicker: Celebrating the Foresight of Our Founders
Today, planning for the Fourth of July often involves divvying up who is bringing what to the family cookout. Or figuring out the best spot in town to see a patriotic fireworks display.
Nearly two-and-half centuries ago, planning for the Fourth of July involved the drafting of a declaration to present to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia. This revolutionary document was published on July 4, 1776, and our new nation was born.
As we gather with friends and family to celebrate the Fourth of July, we should remember that the struggle for freedom was neither swift nor easy. General George Washington had to defy formidable odds and the strength of the world’s mightiest empire before finally achieving victory at Yorktown in 1781. His unwavering commitment to the cause of liberty illustrated the perseverance of America’s early visionaries, who risked their lives to launch an unprecedented experiment in representative government.
A System of Limited Power
Today, perseverance is still needed against the abuse of power – a threat our forefathers sought to quell by devising a government with three separate branches. This system of checks and balances has recently been used to stop some of the Obama Administration’s most flagrant attempts to misappropriate executive power.
For example, the Supreme Court recently upheld a lower court ruling against the Administration’s unilateral efforts to grant legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants. The high court has also suspended the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) implementation of costly rules to limit carbon dioxide emissions. In Congress, the legislative branch has used its control over federal funding to check executive overreach, such as cutting spending for agencies like the Internal Revenue Service and EPA.
Protection of Individual Rights
One of the most famous lines Thomas Jefferson wrote in our Declaration of Independence is the God-given right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Unfortunately, since Roe v. Wade more than four decades ago, tens of millions of unborn children have been denied the right to life because of abortion. I have been a champion for the rights of the unborn throughout my career and will continue to fight for the protection of life and women’s health.
The same vigilance is needed to uphold and protect the freedoms set forth in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Although adopted more than a decade after the Declaration of Independence, these basic principles, such as the “free exercise” of religion and the “right of the people to keep and bear arms,” evoke the call for liberty that spurred U.S. independence.
These defining rights are as important today as they were for Americans in the early years of our republic. No matter the politics of the day, we are heirs of an extraordinary legacy and have a responsibility to see that it continues to grow and thrive. As John Adams wrote after the resolution for independence was approved, “It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” Happy Independence Day!
Posted July 5, 2016 - 9:15 am