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Herbert London: Independence For What?

When the great American experiment began it was as a letter to King George III to explain why the Continental Congress voted to declare independence from Great Britain. It was on June 7, 1776 at a meeting of the Continental Congress in the Pennsylvania State House that Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced a motion calling for the colonies’ independence. On July 2 the Continental Congress voted unanimously in favor of Lee’s resolution, even though New York initially abstained. The White House held its first July 4th party in 1801, even though many thought of themselves as citizens of Great Britain. “Yankee Doodle,” one of the most popular songs sung on this holiday, had its provenance in a tune that marked the “Yankee” who British soldiers fought during the French and Indian War.

Scarcely one in ten Americans understand the antecedents of this journey. And that factoid explains, in large part, why the question of independence has reappeared. At this moment the sovereignty of the nation is being challenged with hundreds of thousands ready to cross our southern border illegally. For many in quest of a better life than any they had known, the United States is the American dream with a plenitude of benefits. It is not as if the bulk of this population wants to be Americanized or even speak a common language, their goal is to derive government sponsored welfare programs. And the Democrats are eager to provide them. Every trespasser comes to these shores with an idea of what governments can provide. Neither Mexico nor Guatemala rely on the individual initiative of its resident. Poor governments give poor services, but it is nonetheless a threadbare public activity that is given. Freedom in these societies is something to ignore. The burdens that emerge from freedom provide anxiety for those who cannot make personal decisions or are raised to avoid them.

On the other side of this equation is a Democratic party plotting to impeach President Trump and using the refugee issue as a wedge to boost party fortunes. For example, if the Democrats can seize control of Texas, it is unlikely the Republicans can garner enough electoral support to put one of their own in the White House again during this century. If the nation is coming apart it is happening on several fronts: economic pressure that can escalate spending to 35 percent of gdp; the loss of political will to defend national sovereignty resulting in undocumented aliens crossing the border in unprecedented numbers; Democratic party pressure for a national political consensus; government regulation of almost every public program and the creeping inevitability of Leftist ideology.

In the 1950’s the leader of Russia, Khrushev argued that in several decades the U.S. would resemble Russia. Was he prescient? The New York Times has one article after another contending the Left is on a march to Washington. Michelle Goldberg writes, for example, that Donald Trump fantasizes about the red wave coming in November. But the real red wave isn’t Republican.”  Alas, she has a point: Forty-four percent of millennials consider themselves socialists, an increase of thirty percent in the last few years.

I know or knew what independence in the Land of the Free means, but I am baffled by a generation that doesn’t understand what it has. Are the trend lines indicative of a new emerging America or will this extremism dissipate? One should not underestimate the resilience of the American people, but are these the same American people? Have Americans been so propagandized, so debased by popular culture, media bias and the internet, that it can no longer use common sense for analysis? Has rational judgment been a casualty of ubiquitous emotion? Independence for what? I am not so sure.

Herbert London is President of the London Center for Policy Research, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of the book The Transformational Decade (University Press of America). You can read all of Herb London’s commentaries at www.londoncenter.org

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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