The Occasion Formerly Known as Independence Day

I should have known better. In a momentary lapse of judgment during which I allowed myself to become sentimental regarding this Independence Day, I searched out a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence and came across the above video featuring several celebrity performers, many of whom may be recognized for their rabid attacks on the principles enshrined within that document. The irony of listening to Whoopi Goldberg recite the long list of usurpations committed by King George, in light of her sycophantic support of a sitting president who stands guilty of many of the same offenses, proves too much to bear.

It got me thinking. On the Fourth of July, what are we even celebrating anymore? I quickly recalled that this cycle of thought has in recent years become a sad new tradition. Rather than a cause for reflection and celebration, the occasion formerly known as Independence Day now takes on a grief similar to that surrounding the anniversary of a death in the family.

In sharing my despair, I risk raining on the holiday parade. But I have to believe I’m not the only one who feels this way. Sure, we’ll go on with our barbeques and fireworks and time away from work spent among family and friends. Yet all the while, in the back of our minds, how can we dismiss the sense of loss when we consider independence as a value?

After all, if barbeques and fireworks were the point of it all, we could conjure up any arbitrary reason for a day off. Instead of the Fourth of July, why not the Twenty-First of March. That was the day in 2010 when the 111th Congress of the United States defied both the expressed will of the people and every sentiment expressed in the Declaration of Independence by passing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, a law so damaging to the American pursuit of happiness that its implementation was postponed past the point when President Obama would stand for re-election and has recently been postponed past the point when Congress will face the people in 2014.

While at it, we can also sanctify the Twenty-Eighth of June. That was the day last year when Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts creatively rewrote the law through judicial fiat, turning the individual mandate from a penalty into a tax. He and the majority thus established a precedent whereby the federal government may punish both behavior and lack of behavior at a whim. The Bill of Rights be damned.