We the People

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Politics and civil commentary with community columnist John Eyster.

Do we celebrate the anniversary of OUR Declaration of Independence today?

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John Eyster
Thursday, July 4, 2013

Do we celebrate the anniversary of OUR Declaration of Independence today?

Does OUR Declaration really matter TODAY? With the various special events and celebrations and the noise of fireworks, do AMERICANS today really think about the document of the summer of 1776? What do YOU think?

I have noted that many, if not most, newspapers reprint the full text of the Declaration of Independence as their editorial for the 4th of July. I read the Declaration which was published as the Janesville Gazette’s editorial yesterday and also the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s editorial yesterday. I am not allowed to give link to the Gazette, but I can give you the link to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel IF you wish to read the full text of OUR Declaration of Independence, here it is: “The Declaration of Independence.”

Through the years of teaching both US History and AP US Government & Politics at Parker High School, OUR Declaration of Independence was a major study assignment.

In US History there was the worksheet to outline the parts of OUR Declaration with special attention to the HISTORICAL GROUNDS for the declaration specifically listed.

In AP US Government & Politics there was the focus on political philosophy – ideology emphasizing Jefferson’s asserting self-evident truths and the conviction that the just powers of government are derived from the “consent of the governed.”

This conviction was the rationale for revolution. Do YOU remember that Jefferson asserted that there is a “right” and a “duty” to revolution? Do YOU agree that Jefferson’s political philosophy and convictions are relevant in our 21st century?

Frequently my students in “American Government & Politics” cite quotations from OUR Declaration of Independence as being from OUR US Constitution. It is true that OUR US Constitution written in 1787 and ratified as of 1789 reflects the political philosophy and convictions of THOMAS JEFFERSON as articulated in OUR Declaration of Independence, but OUR US Constitution does NOT specifically list the “unalienable rights” of “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.”

I believe that OUR Declaration provides the environment/context in which we need to interpret OUR US Constitution. Do YOU agree?

Reading the headlines of news day-by-day this week, I wonder whether WE THE PEOPLE of the US really do still believe in the “self-evident truths” which Thomas Jefferson asserted in OUR Declaration?

What about the “unalienable rights” among which are: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for ALL HUMANKIND! This was NOT a document written only for the colonists in North America. OUR Declaration of Independence has in it a political philosophy which Thomas Jefferson asserted was for ALL HUMANKIND! Do YOU agree with Thomas Jefferson?

What about the assertion that the legitimate power of government is derived from the “consent of the governed”? What about the “right” and “duty” of the people to “alert” or “abolish” any government when they – THE PEOPLE – do NOT perceive that the government is serving their “safety and happiness”?

How does this apply in EGYPT today? How does this apply in SUDAN today? One could ask about many nations around the world today. What is YOUR perspective?

The issue is very significant for WE THE PEOPLE of the US in our own nation on this 237th anniversary of OUR Declaration of Independence. The issue of “consent of the governed” is in the spotlight as we deal with numerous public policy issues. There are those who want to LIMIT the “consent of the governed” to particular groups. There are those who do NOT accept Thomas Jefferson’s assertion that the “self-evident truths” are for ALL HUMANKIND and the “unalienable rights” belong to ALL HUMANKIND! Do YOU?

I appreciated Michael Rosen’s OpEd column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Honor July 4 by passing immigration reform.”

I urge you to read through Rosen’s review of the way OUR Declaration of Independence has been the foundation for immigration to the US. I agree with Rosen’s assertion, “There would be no more fitting way to celebrate July 4 this year than for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship for our nation's latest wave of immigrants.” Do YOU agree with Rosen? Why or why not?

What is the meaning of OUR Declaration of Independence on this 237th anniversary? Is it OUR Declaration of Independence in the 21st century? What do YOU think?

Here we go…

Mr. E.

Last updated: 8:25 am Monday, July 29, 2013

John W. Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor assigned with the online/distance education faculty of Viterbo University, LaCrosse. He continues his personal mission supporting democracy/civics education in Wisconsin K-12 schools through Project Citizen, We the People, Discovering Democracy (Milton HS). John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff or management.

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