A Republic, if you can keep it

Embed from Getty Images
Things you won’t see this Independence Day: Fireworks at Mount Rushmore.

Ostensibly, because of a fire hazard caused by the Mountain Pine Beetle.

But mostly it’s about envirostatism and identity politics.

Now, I don’t know how serious the beetle problem actually is, but I do know the Feds have been working on it since 2010, there were fireworks last year without incident, and Governor Kristi Noem believes they are safe. But Progressives don’t like Noem, and won’t waste a chance to reinforce the Native American land rights they use to block oil pipelines.

Many domestic concerns – the threat of inflation, teaching Critical Race Theory in government schools, burgeoning corporatist censorship, soaring crime, the transgender attack on women, and abandonment of oil independence push fireworks in South Dakota well down the list.

Then again, just last year, inflation, CRT, state directed private censorship, crime rates, high school track events where men compete with women, and oil independence were not so high up the list.

The fireworks ban is a small player in the “fundamental transformation” of the United States. It’s not about trees killed by pine beetles raising fire risk. It’s a psy-op vandalizing our regard for Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Old Glory, free markets, and individualism. It is just one more identitarian attack.

There are many bonuses for the Progressives. It reverses a Trump decision last year to allow the fireworks, and sticks it to South Dakota tourism – a state which had the temerity to elect a Republican Governor. So it checks the orange-man-bad box. It checks the race box since the pine beetles are on Indian land. Which means it checks the colonialist box. It draws support from envirostatists, who are well organized in SD to oppose oil pipelines. So it checks the climate change box. It checks the corporatist censorship box repeatedly: Where have you seen a guy who looks like the guy at the beginning of this video? SD ACLU files First Amendment lawsuit against KXL protest bill

Last time he was on national television we saw him beating a drum in Nick Sandmann’s face. Then lying about it; lies which sent the MSM into paroxysms of screaming “racist!” at Sandmann and calling him “punchable.”

It was made clear on video that Phillips was lying about the facts. A Year Ago, the Media Mangled the Covington Catholic Story. What Happened Next Was Even Worse.

And since he’s a face of “the movement,” it’s worth looking at his past behavior to evaluate his immediate allies as well as credulous fellow travelers like MSNBC, CNN, and the WaPo engaging in outrage-mongering, propagandist clickbait. Which was Phillips’ purpose. Still is.

If you want to gather to watch a National fireworks show, you are left with the White House. Where the beetles are of the Scarabaeinae subfamily and where you can’t criticize China or the click-bait artists will deem you racist.

So, celebrate the Founding of The United States of America, in the fashion you choose, as free citizens of the Republic. We can keep it.

Rebellion

President Trump’s use of social media is boorish, intemperate and frequently vulgar. He claims this is the style of a “MODERN PRESIDENT.” By which he would seem to be claiming all the probity of reality television.

Trump would be right about the television, but as to the rhetoric – not so much.

Alexander Hamilton on Thomas Jefferson:
“He is not scrupulous about the means of success, nor very mindful of truth, and… he is a contemptible hypocrite.”

John Adams on Alexander Hamilton:
“The bastard brat of a Scotch pedlar.”

Thomas Paine on George Washington:
“… and to you, sir, treacherous in private friendship … and a hypocrite in public life, the world will be puzzled to decide whether you are an apostate or an impostor, whether you have abandoned good principles or whether you ever had any.”

The campaign of 1800 was over the top even for Trump:
Thomas Jefferson’s camp accused President Adams of having a “hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.”

John Adams’ men called Vice President Jefferson “a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.”

Of course, most of those insults came from surrogates, not from the candidates or incumbents themselves. The other major difference from the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania is that the Founders were literate.

If, like me, you think Trump’s tweets degrade his office and obfuscate his successes, delete your Twitter account and don’t watch Morning Schmo. Or, try to look at his puerile lack of impulse control as rebellion against the arrogant rule of distant urban elites. Or, get hysterical, smash some windows and shoot a few GOP Congressmen. That seems to be Democrat strategy

For balance, here’s a literate and thoughtful look at today’s significance: President Coolidge’s remarks on the sesquicentennial celebration of Independence day.

Happy Birthday to the United States

President Calvin Coolidge shared his birthday with that of the United States. This coincidence did not lead him to conclude he had been divinely called to fundamentally change the country. He was modest. He was perhaps the last Chief Executive to pay any heed to the 9th and 10th Amendments. He was not known for flights of empty oratory. He considered small government as the intent of the Constitution. His administration was free of scandal, and he dealt with those scandals he inherited from his predecessor quickly and appropriately. Coolidge provided a model of stability and respectability for the American people.

In short, it would be difficult to find a higher degree of contrast with our present administration.

You may find Silent Cal’s speech on the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of interest.

I urge you to read the whole thing in order to appreciate the intellectual rigor an American president could reasonably expect the American people to possess in 1926.

Here are a few excerpts:

…We are obliged to conclude that the Declaration of Independence represented the movement of a people. It was not, of course, a movement from the top. Revolutions do not come from that direction. It was not without the support of many of the most respectable people in the Colonies, who were entitled to all the consideration that is given to breeding, education, and possessions. It had the support of another element of great significance and importance to which I shall later refer. But the preponderance of all those who occupied a position which took on the aspect of aristocracy did not approve of the Revolution and held toward it an attitude either of neutrality or open hostility. It was in no sense a rising of the oppressed and downtrodden. It brought no scum to the surface, for the reason that colonial society had developed no scum. The great body of the people were accustomed to privations, but they were free from depravity. If they had poverty, it was not of the hopeless kind that afflicts great cities, but the inspiring kind that marks the spirit of the pioneer. The American Revolution represented the informed and mature convictions of a great mass of independent, liberty-loving, God-fearing people who knew their rights, and possessed the courage to dare to maintain them.

…Governments do not make ideals, but ideals make governments. This is both historically and logically true. Of course the government can help to sustain ideals and can create institutions through which they can be the better observed, but their source by their very nature is in the people. The people have to bear their own responsibilities. There is no method by which that burden can be shifted to the government. It is not the enactment, but the observance of laws, that creates the character of a nation.

About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.

In the development of its institutions America can fairly claim that it has remained true to the principles which were declared 150 years ago. In all the essentials we have achieved an equality which was never possessed by any other people. Even in the less important matter of material possessions we have secured a wider and wider distribution of wealth. The rights of the individual are held sacred and protected by constitutional guaranties, which even the Government itself is bound not to violate. If there is any one thing among us that is established beyond question, it is self-government–the right of the people to rule. If there is any failure in respect to any of these principles, it is because there is a failure on the part of individuals to observe them. We hold that the duly authorized expression of the will of the people has a divine sanction. But even in that we come back to the theory of John Wise that “Democracy is Christ’s government.” The ultimate sanction of law rests on the righteous authority of the Almighty.

On an occasion like this a great temptation exists to present evidence of the practical success of our form of democratic republic at home and the ever-broadening acceptance it is securing abroad. Although these things are well known, their frequent consideration is an encouragement and an inspiration. But it is not results and effects so much as sources and causes that I believe it is even more necessary constantly to contemplate. Ours is a government of the people. It represents their will. Its officers may sometimes go astray, but that is not a reason for criticizing the principles of our institutions.


Today, some may regard Coolidge as naive. That he could claim 1926 America “has remained true to the principles which were declared 150 years ago”, will strike modern readers as untenable, for example, on racial grounds.

Coolidge certainly knew many living veterans of the Civil War, that does not mean he could envision the 1964 civil rights act – but he would have appreciated that its passage had been obtained by the blood of 600,000 American dead.

Coolidge comments directly:

Readers may be interested in the excerpts from his letter “Equality of Rights,” dated 9 August 1924, and published in Coolidge, Foundations of the Republic: Speeches and Addresses (1926):

“My dear Sir: Your letter is received, accompanied by a newspaper clipping which discusses the possibility that a colored man may be the Republican nominee for Congress from one of the New York districts…you say:

‘It is of some concern whether a Negro is allowed to run for Congress anywhere, at any time, in any party, in this, a white man’s country.’

“….I was amazed to receive such a letter. During the war 500,000 colored men and boys were called up under the draft, not one of whom sought to evade it.” [As president, I am] “one who feels a responsibility for living up to the traditions and maintaining the principles of the Republican Party. Our Constitution guarantees equal rights to all our citizens, without discrimination on account of race or color. I have taken my oath to support that Constitution….”

Yours very truly, etc.

Calvin Coolidge

1926 America was not utopia. It was not hell. It was the best humankind had been able to achieve at that point.

That that still appears to be the case, despite withering statist efforts to fundamentally transform it, is a testament to the ideas and the ideals of the men who pledged their “lives, liberty and sacred honor” to realize a United States of America.

President Coolidge had something to say about that, too:

In its main features the Declaration of Independence is a great spiritual document. It is a declaration not of material but of spiritual concepts. Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man — these are not elements which we can see and touch. These are ideals. They have their source and their roots in religious convictions. They belong to the unseen world. Unless the faith of the American people in these religious convictions [endures], the principles of our Declaration will perish. We can not continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause.

Life. Liberty. Pursuit of happiness.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

Is the United States better off than it was 48 years ago?

Re-Declaration of Independence Day
– Tuesday, November 6, 2012 –